Who is Abdiel?


Who Is Abdiel?

As a spirit of light, love, and joy, Abdiel champions freedom as an ever-changing process inspiring and encouraging others to find the spark within and connect to their own inherent divinity as a pathway to self liberation.

As an artist whose primary expressive medium is dance, Abdiel uses movement to access the wordless place of play where embodied practice acts as a vital, transformational force for healing and connection.

As a queer genderfluid person of color, Abdiel is committed to providing platforms for other underrepresented people to share their work and tell their stories.

As an advocate, Abdiel curates safe spaces that model social equity and demand the same from the broader world, while building lasting relationships between people of all walks of life.


The Past

Abdiel Jacobsen, born in Côte d’Ivoire, is a former Principal Dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company. They have performed many lead roles in Graham's iconic repertoire as well as new original works by various prolific contemporary choreographers including Nacho Duato, Robert Wilson, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Sonya Tayeh, Luca Veggetti, Andonis Foniadakis, Michelle Dorrance, Larry Keigwin, Doug Varone, Richard Move, and more. Abdiel has been a guest artist with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Buglisi Dance Theater, Cecilia Marta Dance Company and Movement Migration. They were also a featured guest artist for Diana Vishneva's "Dialogues" partnering prima ballerina, Diana Vishneva.

Beyond the concert dance theatre Abdiel has been featured in original musical theatre and opera productions including"Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise" directed by Chen Shi-Zheng with choreography by Akram Khan for The Shed NYC, "Hatuey: Memory of Fire"directed by Mary Birnbaum with choreography by Maija Garcia, "Christmas Ain't A Drag" by David George and "TheTempest Songbook" with the Gotham Chamber Opera directed and choreographed by Luca Veggetti.

Swapping Roles

In 2019, Abdiel and their dance partner, Kristine Bendul, became the World's First... professional "male/female" couple to compete as Gender Neutral in DanceSport ballroom competition swapping roles of lead and follow equally in all 5 dances of the Professional American Rhythm Division.

Garnering attention for their history-making moment and advocacy for gender equality and inclusivity, they are featured subjects in a documentary, “FollowLead Love” by Emmy nominated director, Brian Thomas. Abdiel has since taught their gender neutral approach at Juilliard, Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California Irvine, Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, to name a few. In addition, they have taught their methodology as invited guests at various international partner dance events including the Canada Salsa and Bachata Congress, London Hustle Fest, Marquee Madness, and LA Hustle Congress.

Abdiel currently is a Pre-Doctoral Lecturer at the University of Washington - Department of Dance sharing and expanding their research on gender neutral partner dancing. They received a B.F.A. in Dance from the University of the Arts, where they gained the foundation for their dance training, and  is also a certified professional ballroom dance instructor. Abdiel’s professional competitive dance awards includes Pro Hustle Champion, Pro Same-Sex Ballroom Champion, World Latin Dance Cup Salsa on1 Pro Regional Champion, and Pro Open American Smooth DanceSport Finalist.

Beyond Dancing

Beyond performance and competition, Abdiel thoroughly enjoys teaching. They were a guest lecturer in modern dance at the University of California Irvine in 2019 and currently a Fulbright Specialist with the US Department of State's Bureau ofEducational and Cultural Affairs and Global Learning with a 3-year tenure. Abdiel’s passion and desire for educational and cultural exchange has allowed them to teach and choreograph all over the USA and in countries around the world including Haiti, China, Canada, and England.

Abdiel is an avid Hustle dancer and is dedicated and committed to the cultural preservation of the roots of New York Hustle dance and the expansion of its creative expression. They are currently directing a feature documentary on the history of Hustle called 6 Step Story. Their greatest passion is igniting and uniting all people through social dance as a practice of collective healing, transformation, and celebration.

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