dis body.

my father’s body
has found its way into my own
the forehead expands, the hair recedes
extends into my stomach…keeps extending
seeping into leg bones degeneratively.
mom’s here too
fully in thighs widened
a rounded high end
drifting up
towards heart’s inner sanctum inner strength
to mind’s brewing bipolarity
permeable mental precarity
present whether i try to hide it or not.
like family
i’m sometimes ashamed
don’t always pay attention
struggle with yet embrace
embraced
evolving pains, woes, fissures, the growths…
all needs tending
tenacious softening
a responsive love
to
of
for
this cultured body

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one reflection from witnessing “what the body knows”

taking a moment to take in/look at various thoughts shared via facebook and email of those who witnessed the world premiere of what the body knows : a dance suite of two solos and a duet here’s one in particular, reflecting on various moments within the solo “ele’fant” and duet “carry”:

“To make a new world, we need to create new aesthetics. Barak Adé Soleil is making a new aesthetic, and it is the most destabilizing thing I have ever seen. This is more than a remix of existing body politics; beyond addressing the oppression and hegemony of current race, disability, gender, and sexuality behavior/discourse, his work is opening a door to a new way of being human in our crazy world. He eats the poisoned apple from our hands and regurgitates the pieces for us to see. He crawls the floor with the force of a freight train and ploughs through our psyches. He slams his body against the walls, and the walls shake. After “what the body knows,” someone asked me where do we go from here? ANYWHERE WE WANT.”

Mary Wu

more reflections to come from what the body knows and other presentations this year…

 

the artists. what the body knows

from the 2016 world premiere of what the body knows, a suite of three dances exploring the complex intersection and legacies of race and disability, here are bios of select artists:

Barak

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Barak adé Soleil [choreography, direction, design and performance] makes dance, theatre, and performance art. An award-winning creative practitioner, he  has engaged diverse communities within the USA, Canada, South America, Europe, and West Africa throughout his career. He is the founder of D UNDERBELLY, an interdisciplinary network of artists of color, and recipient of the prestigious Katherine Dunham Choreography Award presented by AUDELCO for excellence in NYC Black Theatre. His hybrid aesthetic speaks to the expanse of contemporary art; drawing upon traditions from the African diaspora, disability and queer culture, and postmodern forms. Barak is a 2015 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, 2015-16 recipient of a 3Arts/University of Illinois at Chicago Residency Fellowship, 2016 Choreographer-in- Residence at Rebuild Foundation, 2016 3Arts awardee and 2017 recipient of 3Arts Residency Fellowship at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.  2016 marks Barak’s 25th anniversary of being involved in live arts.“Barak adé Soleil has been a powerful force for good in performance scenes across the U.S”  -NEWCITY stage

 

Jerron

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Jerron Herman [performance] shares stories through body-centered performance and writings. Presently in New York City, Herman is a company member of Heidi Latsky Dance. Originally from the Bay Area, Herman holds a B.A from The King’s College and through his writing practice, has written and produced a full length musical and a one man show. Speaking eloquently on his identity as a disabled dance artist of color, he was the subject of a docu-interview with John Bathke. For his performance in the world premiere of the company’s recent work TRIPTYCH, The New York Times noted him as, “the inexhaustible Mr. Herman”.

 

Sadie

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Sadie Woods’ [collaborator in sound design; live performance of sound score] creative practice includes sound art and design, deejay performance, exhibitions, and collaborations within communities of difference. Chicago born with a childhood steeped in the arts, she received a B.A. in Music from Columbia College, a Visual Arts Certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School and MFA in Sound from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Projects include sound design for Free Street Theater and collaborations with artist Ricardo Gamboa. Sadie is a current resident artist at ACRE, SAIC’s Nichols Tower Homan Square, and participated in the Independent Curators International Curatorial Intensive in Dakar, Senegal.

 

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Penelope McCourty [creative associate and lead advisor] has worked artistically and administratively with several locally and nationally known dance companies and community arts organizations. As a performer and teacher she was a member of Marlies Yearby’s Movin’ Spirits Dance Theater, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group. Her choreographic work has been presented at St. Mark’s Church, Joyce Soho, Chicago’s Links Hall, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange and San Francisco State University. She is the recipient of the 2014 NYU/Steinhardt School Exemplary Teaching Artist Award and the Elders Share the Arts Visionary Artist Award. Penelope is on faculty at The Berkeley Carroll School and facilitates artistic process residencies and professional development workshops through New Victory Theater and Park Avenue Armory’s Artist Corps.

Marcus Doshi [lighting consultant] designs lighting for theatre, dance, opera, and non-performance. His work has been seen at the Park Avenue Armory, Juilliard Opera, Theatre for a New Audience and extensively off-broadway; in Chicago at Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Court, Chicago Shakespeare, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He has designed for most major regional theatres and opera companies in the US and internationally at Canadian Opera, Holland Festival, La Monnaie, Festival Lyric d’Aix-en-Provence, La Commedie Française, Venice Biennale, and the Sydney Festival among others. Education: Wabash College and the Yale School of Drama; Assistant Professor of Stage Design in the MFA program at Northwestern University.  www.marcusdoshi.com

Maya Lori [American Sign Language Interpreter; dramaturg for ASL choreography] is an interdisciplinary artist, often creating her work within written, video, drawn, and painted realms. Born and raised in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, Lori identifies as having grown within liminal yet emotionally and energetically charged spaces, which is reflected in her work. From her family of a nomadic Jamaican father, a tender and eclectic mother, an expressive Deaf elder sister, and a bond with a younger sibling that blurs the small age gap between them, Lori found safety and love in intimate circles that paved the way for the artist she is today.

Nikki B. [documenter], a native of Chicago, fell in love with photography and established “GreyMatter Photography” with a mission to use her unique eye and photojournalist style to capture OMG (“Oh my God”) moments. She uses a documentary style to capture photos with a purpose. She travels throughout Chicago as a self-proclaimed “Artivist”, capturing the attention of youth through her mobile Exhibition entitled “Words Scar.”  This has resulted in Nikki teaching youth 6-21 years old how to use photography to document their voice.  As part of her photographer’s mission, Nikki believes Art is a catalyst of positive youth development.

Awilda Rodríguez Lora [creative associate in production phase] is a performance choreographer and cultural entrepreneur. Born in Mexico, raised in Puerto Rico, and working in-between North and South America and the Caribbean, Rodríguez Lora’s performances traverse multiple geographic histories and realities. In this way, her work promotes progressive dialogues regarding hemispheric colonial legacies, and the unstable categories of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Rodríguez Lora is currently a host/coordinator at La Rosario in Santurce(Puerto Rico) where she is creating, researching, and producing her life project, La Mujer Maravilla, while developing new strategies for the sustainability of live arts in Puerto Rico. laperformera.org

 

 

this dance is black.

a black man.
a disabled black man.
two recent killings
that we know of
with more to come…

& i
in the midst of this –
bridge bodies shoulders with another brotha
arms cross arms
bending necks
this dance emerges
dropping to knees
falling towards the ground
face down
shaken into
holds that rock us
onto our backs
thighs cradle head
side to side
side by side
to momentary stillness.

then
pressed against each other
we roll up
rise
our breaths are deep
with hands extended
ready to carry ourselves.
again.

black men
disabled black men
we be.
&
we keep movin.

#thisdanceisBlack  #theseFolkwecarry #whathebodyknows

what’s happened. what’s happening.

Barak in washed tones with crutches full body by Erika Dufour
image of Barak with crutches and hands gestured by Erika Dufour

 

============================================

WHAT’S happened:

June —
what the body knows
successfully campaigned in support of the world premiere fall production!

particular thanks  to: Carrie Sandahl, Anna Khimasia, Lisa Lee, LaKia Colquitt, Daniel Alexander Jones, Katherine Zien, Barbara Koenen, Sharon Bridgforth, Alice Kim, Keith Brown, Edisa Weeks, Caroline Palmer, Ananya Chatterjea, Kris Lenzo Suzanne Snider, Willa Taylor, Allie Stephens, Ben Foch, Anthony Romero and Felipe Gomes for their distinct contributions, and to 3Arts for providing the fundraising platform and administration!

July —
Barak traveled to Santiago, Chile to present an international premiere of the diptych turttle//ele’fant as part of the Hemispheric Institute’s 2016 Encuentro.

August —
Barak traveled to Pittsburgh to present diptych turttle//tablewerk at August Wilson Center for African American Culture as part of 2016 LEAD Conference.

===========================================

what’s HAPPENING:

October–
Barak travels to Portland, Oregon to offer keynote for the Alliance of Artists Communities 2016 Conference.

*SAVE THE DATE*
World premiere of  what the body knows
Limited engagement and seating!
Friday, October 28th & Saturday, October 29th
performance begins 7:30pm
doors open at 6:30pm
at Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago!

what the body knows unfolds as a suite of intimate dances provocatively exploring the intersection of race AND disability.

With choreography and performance by Barak, additional performances by Jerron Herman and live sound score orchestrated by Sadie Woods.

admission is FREE with RSVP+

the event will be fully accessible. asking all to support a scent free environment. Wheelchair seating, CART services, ASL interpretation, Audio description and Individual assistance available.

+for inquiries:
email whatthebodyknowsinfo@gmail.com
phone 872.444.6817

these moments. in the act of art.

the art making doesn’t stop. in the midst of campaigning for what the body knows, an opportunity to collaborate is embraced.  basking from the beauty of the act of art, in the art of experimentation with brilliant artists Nikki Patin and Mikel Patrick Avery in politics  of space , curated by Demecina Beehn as the culmination to 2016 Chicago Home Theater Festival at Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative’s studio in the neighborhood of  Greater Grand Crossing.

truly thankful for these moments:

this moment in the act of art. we three be. within community. making the unknown known.

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this moment in the act of art. we find each other. tenderly. “who’s the table”. revealing truths.

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the moment post performing. still savoring the act of art. candidly, we three creative folk be.

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from left to right: Nikki Patin, Mikel Patrick Avery and me.