Franki Graham (she/her) is a Baltimore-based dancer, choreographer, educator, and director who believes in the transformative power of movement. Certified as a Functional Awareness Movement Educator in 2020, her teaching practice is focused on contemporary and modern dance disciplines informed by these best practices.

Currently the Preparatory Dance Department Chair at the Peabody Institute of the John’s Hopkins University, Graham serves students from ages 2 to adult, bringing excellent dance programing to the area across three different campuses and directing numerous performances. Under her leadership, the program is able to produce multiple high level performances each year including: collaborations with the Walters Art Museum to bring site-specific performances to their building; an annual Spring Showcase that features choreography by renowned guest artists in residence; a Student Choreography Showcase produced by dance composition students in the program; and an end-of-year story ballet that includes around 150 students enrolled in classes throughout the year. Graham has been teaching in the program since 2012 and served as the Contemporary Dance Coordinator since 2018.

As a Master Teacher for the Maryland Centers for Creative Classrooms (MC3) run by the Maryland State Department of Education, Graham has facilitated multiple professional development sessions for arts educators across the state, including a multi-day event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Holding a Maryland Teacher Standard Professional Certificate for K-12, she taught for four years in the Anne Arundel County Public School system as the dance lead in the Performing and Visual Arts Magnet Program (APEX), at Annapolis High School. Graham continues to mentor rising dance teachers through her appointment as Adjunct Instructor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County where she teaches a course called Teaching Methods for Dance, designed for teaching candidates during their internship year. She is a sought-after guest teacher for masterclasses and workshops in regional and state-wide dance festivals including the Maryland Public High School Dance Showcase, Howard Community Dance Festival, Baltimore County Public Schools Dance Festival, Anne Arundel County Public Schools Dance Festival, and the Maryland Dance Alliance, among others.

Graham attended the University of Maryland Baltimore County as part of the Linehan Artist Scholars Program, and received her bachelor’s degree in Dance, with Education and Honors certificates. She then attended the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, England, funded as a Leverhulme scholar. There she performed in a European tour with Transitions Dance Company while completing her master’s degree in Dance Performance, researching and completing her thesis titled The Imagination Runs Away with You: A phenomenological study of how contemporary dancers use the imagination in dance performance. She worked with acclaimed choreographers Stefanie Batten-Bland, Ikky Maas, and Dog Kennel Hill Project, under the direction of David Waring.

Her performance career in the United States continued as a long time performer with Baltimore Dance Project, performing new and repertory pieces by Carol Hess, in both traditional and site-specific spaces throughout Maryland. In 2016, Hess reconstructed Image in Red on Graham; this celebrated solo work was originally choreographed on Hess by Janet Soares in 1980. Also with BDP, Graham performed at the Kennedy Center as a part of Sofie Clemenson’s commissioned project, IN TO AND OUT OF, Part 3, at the newly constructed REACH at the Kennedy Center. While based in Baltimore, Graham also performed for many years with Erica Rebollar in Washington, DC, as a part of her company Rebollar Dance, performing new and repertory pieces.

As a choreographer, Graham’s creative practice was cultivated in the company she founded and co-directed with Jeanna Riscigno in 2017, LucidBeings Dance. Their work was described as “..straddling the line between sensible and visceral” by BMore Art in 2018 and explored themes of nature and what it means to be human. The duo’s work was selected for many prestigious performances including the Richmond Dance Festival, the Maryland Council for Dance Artist’s Concert, VelocityDC Dance Festival, and the Maryland Choreographer’s Showcase, among others. Their choreography has been commissioned for many student and professional companies.

Graham is the recipient of the 2018 Audience Choice Award of the 35th Annual Maryland Choreographer’s Showcase, and the 2020 Mark Ryder Original Choreography Award of the Howard County Arts Council. She is on the board of the Maryland Dance Education Association as the representative for Teaching Artists in the state.