Dance Faculty

Olivier Tarpaga

Olivier Tarpaga headshot

Photo by Margo Tamize


Olivier Tarpaga is a Lester Horton Award-winning choreographer and musician, a guest dance lecturer and the director of the African music ensemble for Princeton University’s Department of Music. He is the artistic director of Nomad Express International MultiArts Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, founder and artistic director of the internationally-acclaimed Dafra Drum and Dafra Kura Band, and co-founder of Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. He danced with David Rousseve/Reality from 2006 – 2010, when he was also a State Department Art Envoy in South Africa, Botswana, Burkina Faso, and Sri Lanka. In 2008, Tarpaga was commissioned by Zig Zag Ballet to choreograph Visage at the Rich Forum Stanford Center for the Arts in Connecticut. Other commissions include Wind of Nomads for Malaysia’s HANDS percussion; RESIST, RESURGE: Traces of Hope for MAYA dance theater of Singapore; and The way of sands for the Temple of Fine Arts in Perth, Australia. He is a recipient of numerous grants including the National Dance Project touring support,  Suitcase Fund of New York Live Arts, Chime Mentorship Fellowship with David Rousseve as his mentor, the Durfee Foundation ARC, the Ohio Arts Council and the Flourish Foundation.

Tarpaga's faculty appointments include the Department of Dance of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the Department of Dance and the School of Music of The Ohio State University, the Department of Drama and Dance at Kenyon College, OH, and the Department of Dance at Denison University, OH, the University of Iowa and the World Arts and Cultures department at UCLA. Tarpaga has also taught as a guest artist at Brown University, Alvin Ailey, Western Australia Performing Arts Center in Perth, Malaysia National Academy of the Arts (ASWARA), Tokyo Olympic Center, Hong Kong Institute of Education, The Goodman Arts Centre in Singapore, The Russian Cultural Center in Tanzania, The National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda, Maitising Festival in Botswana, Aboki Ngoma festival in Yaoudé, Cameroon, Action Danse Festival in Casablanca and the French Institut in Rabat, Dakar, Senegal and Madagascar. He has performed and taught dance in more than 50 countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia.

Tarpaga’s dance and music work — described as “unforgettable” by the Los Angeles Times, “extraordinary” by the New York Times and "Exceptionally smart work" by Broad Street Review Philadelphia — is hybrid contemporary dance theatre with an emphasis on live music.