what the body knows…what unfolds

it’s been a couple of months since i’ve posted on here. most presently, i’ve been creating new dance…

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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 knows  at 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.

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what the body knows campaign is LIVE. $3000 to be raised by 11:59pm June 9th.

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*above image of Jerron (left) and Barak by EyeAmNikkiB

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an Open Dances honoring legendary Women: Nina Simone

Honoring  Women’s History Month, we will be creating dance as part of the Open Dances series; drawing upon the iconic imagery within legendary artist Nina Simone’s  acclaimed song Four Women.

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My skin is black
My arms are long
My hair is woolly
My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain
inflicted again and again
What do they call me
My name is AUNT SARAH
My name is Aunt Sarah

My skin is yellow
My hair is long
Between two worlds
I do belong
My father was rich and white
He forced my mother late one night
What do they call me
My name is SAFFRONIA
My name is Saffronia

My skin is tan
My hair is fine
My hips invite you
my mouth like wine
Whose little girl am I?
Anyone who has money to buy
What do they call me
My name is SWEET THING
My name is Sweet Thing

My skin is brown
my manner is tough
I’ll kill the first mother I see
my life has been too rough
I’m awfully bitter these days
because my parents were slaves
What do they call me
My name is PEACHES

 

Open Dances will occur on the south side at Rebuild Foundation’s Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative studio

Saturday, March 26th from 1pm – 3pm.

Open Dances is free and open to the public.  This event will be videotaped.

Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative is wheelchair accessible. With respect to other participants, please refrain from wearing scented products. Real time Captioning (CART) will be provided.

This particular Open Dances is supported in part through Bodies of Work, 3Arts  and University of Illinois Chicago’s Department of Disability and Human Development Institute on Disability and Human Development.

 

 

 

reflections on the “good” and the black | body

Last month, February, I presented the  “good” body (Chicago edition) in the Great Space of UIC Arts Building.  Soon after, Dana Michel performed Yellow Towel as part of the black | body at DCASE Storefront Theatre.

Here are reflections from those who witnessed:

the “good” body, Barak’s performative lecture

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reflections from various folk via text messages on what is a “good” body

– “My bleeding, leaking body is a good body to me.”

– “My body is good when I own myself”

– “A good body transcends human constructs. It is a vessel through which i experience the world.”

– “The good body survives.”

from  writer Kate Sierzputowski’s preview

– “…addresses the distinct and intersecting legacies of race and disability..” 

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the black | body, Dana’s performance of Yellow Towel

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reflections from various folk

– “Rarely have I experienced such active, complex inner negotiations about how/whether/when to relate: to the live in the moment, to the issues being addressed, to the thoughts and feelings they evoked.”

– “I think a part of me just died…”

– “That was STRANGE”

from  writer Lauren Warnecke’s  review

– “Once you commit, you’re locked in and have to do it, like it or not. It’s not fun at times, you want to look away, your gut rises and falls in your stomach…. but at the end, you walk out with a rush of adrenaline and can’t wait to do it again.”

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Engaging community, Dana joined folks on the south side for Open Dances; to talk about how and why she does what she does.

the black | body : Dana Michel

this week:

the black | body featuring Montreal choreographer and performer Dana Michel in Yellow Towel

 

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Image of Dana Michel by Maxyme G. Delisle

 

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 [2001], 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 Towel at 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 will also engage with the public in dialog as part of  Open Dances at Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative studio [1456 e 70th St] on Saturday, February 27th from 1 – 3pm. She will lead a workshop, An Activator Class in Choreography, as part of Illinois Humanities Art School series on Sunday, February 28th.

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. 

 

 

 

the “good” and the black | body.

distinctive legacies. progressive forms.

It’s February, a month that seeks to acknowledge distinctive contributions and legacies of folk of the African diaspora in America.  Upcoming, I’m excited to offer events that speak to these legacies and provoke the progress of contemporary understandings.

 

this week: the “good” body

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photo by Laura Blauer

 

Feb 19th, the “good” body (Chicago Edition)

Friday, February 19th (2 – 4 PM) Gallery 400, Lecture Room
the “good” body (Chicago edition) is a performative lecture centered within the intersection of disability and race. Through this multidimensional lens, I’m seeking to instigate a deeper dialog surrounding the current social and political tensions present in our contemporary society.  It was originally presented as the keynote lecture for Middlebury College’s Clifford Symposium this past fall. Chicago will experience a new and revised version!

There will be ASL interpretation, real-time captioning, audio description, personal assistants available and encourage attendees to refrain from wearing scents. Gallery 400 is  wheelchair accessible.

RSVP for the “good” body (Chicago edition)

 

COMING SOON: the black | body

newness. and firsts

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new year greetings…

allowing for newness. embracing firsts. and a return to the blog!

2016 marks my 25th anniversary!

25 years dedicated to making, being involved in live arts. To celebrate this milestone, I will be exploring new ways to engage the beautiful folks within community that have been and continue to be part of my creative world.

announcements:

new name
This past year I legally changed my name to barak adé soleil.  for those who have come to know me as “Baraka de Soleil”, please note this transition for future reference.  with the new shift in name, comes a new look for the blog; encouraging access for varied folks. join me in welcoming this newness!

new residency
I’m the choreographer-in-residence for Rebuild Foundation!  This opportunity allows me to build a studio practice on south side of Chicago and cultivate community. I will be maintaining regular hours on Wednesdays at Rebuild’s Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative space. Look for programs related to this residency in the coming month!
https://rebuild-foundation.org/site/dorchester-art-housing-collaborative/

new fellowship residency
Aligned with Rebuild’s residency and 2015 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, I will be  further developing  what the body knows as a new fellowship residency recipient through 3Arts and University of Illinois Chicago! This residency is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts to 3Arts. The 3Arts Fellowships at UIC are the result of a partnership between 3Arts, Bodies of Work, and UIC’s Department of Disability and Human Development.
http://3arts.org/artist/Barak-ade-Soleil/

what’s coming up:

February 19th, the “good” body (Chicago Edition)
Friday, February 19th (2 – 4 PM)
Gallery 400, Lecture Room

the “good” body (Chicago edition) is a performative lecture centered within the intersection of disability and race.  Through this multifaceted lens,  I offer personal insights and poetics excavated from a deep engagement with the profound traditions of the African diaspora, disability culture and their interwoven aesthetic; instigating further dialog surrounding the current social and political tensions present today.  As a queer disabled artist of color, i’m committed to exposing the nuances of the intersectional body as an inherent reflection of humanity; while questioning the historical contexts in which live art is created and interpreted.

Please RSVP for the “good” body (Chicago edition) at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/performative-lecture-the-good-body-chicago-edition-by-barak-ade-soleil-tickets-20917369415?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing

February 26 – 28th, the black | body with Montreal’s Dana Michel
Continuing my current  curatorial project the black | body, international artist Dana Michel will be coming to Chicago!  She will be presenting her solo, Yellow Towel, on Friday & Saturday, February 26-27, 7pm at Storefront Theatre in downtown; as part of Department of Cultural Affairs’ On Edge Series. In conjunction with the performances, Dana will also be engaging in a public dialog session (Open Dances) on Saturday at 1pm and, as part of Illinois Humanities Council’s community programming, offering a workshop on Sunday.
http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/onedge12.html

 

*above image by Onyx from solo “turttle”.