the stories we’ll share…through the dances we’ll create.
in this process of developing what the body knows, through the reflection of documenter Nikki Bruce’s photography, we found that each image offered compelling insight into this emerging work; into how these two bodies (Jerron Herman and myself) are discovering how to be in conversation with the two intersecting “bodies” the work seeks to explore -the body racialized and the body disabled. through our coexistence and commitment to make visible these intersections, we are making movement that speaks to the beauty of these bodies coming together.
and through the support of this campaign…the story will deepen…
it’s been a couple of months since i’ve posted on here. most presently, i’ve been creating new dance…
it’s been incredibly rewarding. and humbling..
recently Jerron Herman, Francine Sheffield came from New York and Phanuel Antwi traveled from Canada, to join me in a 10 day intensive development process for the emerging choreographic project what the body knows– a suite of solos and a duet focused on the complex intersection and intertwining legacies of disability and race.
within this creative period i was also joined by local artists Sadie Woods, Nikki Bruce to respectively document the process and collaborate on the sound design. the focus was on a duet to build with Jerron as my co-performer and Francine holding space for us to delve into the conversation between our bodies. both black. both men. both disabled. self-identifying with those aspects of ourselves. shared experiences yet distinct ways of navigating the ways those identities impact our lives. we’ve never dance together before. this was our introduction to understanding how we might do that. and, from this exploration and rigorous process, carry emerges. and the process continued…
consultants in audio description and American Sign Language joined us, as a means to explore how these noted ways of offering access could be integrated within my evolving creative aesthetic. we grew to better understand how and why we would carry each other. the many forms of carry, carrying legacies we don’t want to hold onto. carrying memories we will keep close to us through the cycle of our lives. the passing of information between two men existing in the intergenerational continuum. the symbolism and metaphors of being carriers of the systemic perceptions and oppression of black men. and the power harnessed from the union of our disabled bodies in solidarity and thoughtful exchange. inside this deeply embodied exchange, being in conversation with Jerron opened up discoveries that could only be shared through the beauty of dancing together.
and then we shared this process with others. intimately drawing folks into the folds of what we discovered while in residence at Rebuild Foundation’s Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative studio…and they watched us in duet, carry each other and be carried. and they shared with us what that meant to them. and we listened….
i’m still taking in all that was shared, exchanged, discussed. and i’m learning more and more what it means to collaborate. to be open. to be vulnerable. to hold space for others. to allowing myself to be held…
this is what the body knows. this is an ongoing process of discovering what the body does know.
i learned immediately that this project’s vision is larger than one person. it takes a community.
so thankful for what each one of these artists brought to the space, to the many folk who contributed to ensuring there was an opportunity to engage profoundly in the development phase of what the body knows…and to the folk who witnessed the intimate showing this past May 3rd at DAHC.
and it will take the larger community’s support in order to most deeply engage in the producing of this project’s culminating phase… which is why i’ve launched a campaign!
with this support –
soon will come the premiere of what the body knowsat Stony Island Arts Bank. October 2016, with my collaborators and new additions to the project (costuming, lighting), the project will be shared with Chicagoans and those visiting the city; bearing witness and engaging with us in this continuing and evolving conversation on race & disability, through dance.
what the body knows campaign is LIVE. $3000 to be raised by 11:59pm June 9th.
*above image of Jerron (left) and Barak by EyeAmNikkiB
the black | body featuring Montreal choreographer and performer Dana Michel in Yellow Towel
the black | body, a 2015-16 series of progressive art by black artists from across the diaspora, is the culmination of a trilogy of curatorial projects, beginning with Black and Beyond , which featured the work of three contemporary black dance artists pushing the boundaries and limitations of the ‘black bodies’ as legacy and form. Next was Studies N Black [2007-8], a progressive series of mini-festivals and events in Minneapolis, Brooklyn NY and Chicago that offered a multidisciplinary offering of black artists who delved into the problematic, stereotypical, emotional or cosmological dimensions of black culture.
the black | body series was initiated in Evanston with my exhibition of archived performance art works, TRIPTYCH: CYCLE this past fall. It now continues in downtown Chicago with innovative artist Dana Michel’s performances of Yellow Towelat Storefront Theatre this Friday & Saturday February 26 – 27th; part of DCASE/On Edge programming.
As a child, Dana Michel would drape a yellow towel on her head in an attempt to emulate the blonde girls at school. As an adult, she now revisits the imaginary world of her alter-ego in a performative ritual free of cover-ups or censorship. Blending austerity and absurdity, she digs into black culture stereotypes, turning them inside out to see whether or not she can relate. Strongly influenced by the aesthetics of fashion, music videos, queer culture and comedy, Dana quickly stood out as an emerging dance artist. With Yellow Towel, she explores new creation territories and most decidedly asserts herself as an artist to watch.
Dana Michel is a choreographer and performer based in Montreal, Canada. Before entering the BFA in Contemporary Dance program at Concordia University in her late twenties, she was a marketing executive, competitive runner and football player. In 2011, She had the honour of being a danceWEB scholar, allowing her to deepen her research process at ImPulsTanz in Vienna, Austria.
Her practice is rooted in exploring the multiplicity of identity using intuitive improvisation. She works with notions of performative alchemy & post-cultural bricolage; using live moments, object appropriation, personal history, future desires and current preoccupations to create an empathetic centrifuge of experience between herself and witnesses. Today, her work can perhaps best be described by its influences: lucid cinematography, living sculpture, physical comedy, psychological excavation, deconstructed social commentary, the bulimic logic of Hip Hop and child-like naïveté. Her work has been presented in North America (Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston, Salt Lake City and New York City) and in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Serbia & Switzerland). Inhabiting both traditional & non-traditional spaces is a key component in the creation of her work.
Over the past nine years, her work has been awarded the Montreal Fringe Festival “Best Dance Production” in 2005, the Globe and Mail’s “Best Emerging Choreographer” in 2006, and a “Top Ten Choreographers” listing by the Montreal Mirror newspaper in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The film version of her solo the greater the weight won the jury prize for the “Best Female Performance” at the 2009 In Shadow International Festival of Video, Performance and Technologies in Lisbon.
#Collaboration – honing the space for more truthful mutual exchange.
this year, noted disabled dance artist, Alice Sheppard and i have committed to be in thoughtful collaboration. A collaboration upholding truthful exchange. One that calls us to have respect and dignity for the body in the work and the process. Allowing each other to be fully present and empowered. We don’t call each other out; we call each other closer to the mission. A collaboration that builds community beyond ourselves and the work.
This Monday, September 16th, the first fall Moving Dialog kicks off at Hyde Park Art Center[HPAC] at 6pm –Crossover. It is a unique union with HPAC’s ArtBar event. Within this evening experience, there will be a discussion with participating artists: Tony Orrico, Susan Marshall and Anthony Romero. The intent of this dialogis to cultivate consciousness surrounding what may be deemed unknown to us, “different” ; inviting opportunities for new discoveries, ways we can talk about art forms that may be unfamiliar or seemingly simple. We’ll seek to create meaningful connections among disparate, unequal and unexpected partners. we’ll do that by exploring practices that are hybrid, non-linear, intercultural and interdisciplinary. ++
What is hybrid? Intercultural? Interdisciplinary? Why explore these terms, these practices? We’ll further excavate what those terms mean to US inside this dialog. Yes “US”. i have an idea and you have a thought…and what we come up with together will be exciting. New. Maybe this means we’ll be crafting a ‘hybrid‘; composed of intercultural discussions which reflect witnessing interdisciplinarypractices? We’ll see. And that’s the fun part, the unknown as well… it all plays into our contemporary reality. The contemporary world is moving away from a largely static and passive experience to a more dynamic participatory interrelationship with art, media and technology. ++Our views are shifting from what we have become accustomed to and this can ignite some anxiety. How can we craft ‘bridges” that will aid in this shift?
When artists experiment, they open up a space or potential bridge for exploring this shift. This space challenges how we relate and identify with the created work, each other and our individual selves. While we may try to categorize the work, naming it can be difficult and elusive; especially within an intercultural phenomena or new setting. The beauty of this practice is that unknown space; it allows room for us to discover language to describe it. This language is evolving…as the art evolves.
With these three artists, it has been about the body, and its movement in relation to other disciplines, elements and materials. The relationship continues to shift and evolve dependent on the artist & their aesthetic. In speaking in terms of “dance”, each artist has found his/her correlation in intriguing ways.
– For some, their relationship to dance has inspired the other disciplines they have crossed over into: how physical impulses manifest into visible forms.
– Or perhaps a relationship to other disciplines has further inspired the dance: thinking about what got them into dance in the first place.
– And then there is the simultaneous relationship with dance & other disciplines or forms that serve the overall creative work: allowing them to settle into a practice that embraces collaboration, activity or movement.
Which artist has which correlation? i have my thoughts, what are yours? Anthony, Susan and Tony will be present on Monday to share what they feel are their relationships to dance, to other disciplines or forms. Their “practices” will be on display throughout various spaces within Hyde Park Art Center; alongside other visual works and participatory activities. please join us for Crossover to explore and discuss.