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Africana Dance Dramaturgies: How Do We Represent?

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November 18, 2019 @ 6:30 pm
Segal Theater

Monday, November 18
Segal Theatre
4:00pm Screenings+ 6:30pm Artist Talk + 7:30 Roundtable

FREE + Open to public. First come, first served

Since the early 2000’s contemporary Africana choreographers and companies have been transforming and up-ending expectations of audiences and critics. They challenge categorizations and explode assumptions about the modern, the contemporary, and the traditional. Offering reimaginations of conventional approaches to Africana performance practices.

Join us for screenings at 4 pm and an artist-talk later at 6:30 pm. The artist talk is with choreographer Olivier Tarpaga of the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, followed by a roundtable discussion with artists and scholars, including André M. Zachery, Rosamond S. King, Ph. D., Charmian Wells, Abdel R. Salaam, and Funmi Adewole. Curated, moderated, and hosted by Margit Edwards, Ph.D. Candidate in Theatre and Performance & the 2018/19 Senior Assistant Director of Programs at the Segal Center.


Film Screenings:

Movement ( r ) evolution Africa (2007) by Joan Frosch (65 mins)
In an astonishing exposition of choreographic fomentation, nine African choreographers tell stories of an emergent art form and their diverse and deeply contemporary expressions of self. Stunning choreography and riveting critiques challenge stale stereotypes of “traditional Africa” to unveil soul-shaking responses to the beauty and tragedy of 21st century Africa.

AFRO PROMO #1 King Lady by Nora Chipaumire (11 mins)
Afro Promo #1 Kinglady commissioned by Montclair State University.
Afro Promo #1 Kinglady is an Afro-Feminist manifesto beautifying bodies to claim the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Using a low-tech — do-it-yourself aesthetics, this short film demonstrates how presence, fashion and pop culture can be a vehicle for self-invention and self- determination.
Produced by Dance for Film on Location at Montclair State University, The Office of Arts and Cultural Programming (ACP), Jedediah Wheeler, Executive Director.
Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Directed and Choreographed by Nora Chipaumire
Director of Photography: Benjamin Seth Wolf
Editor: Alla Kovgan
Art Director: Peter Born
Duration: 11 minutes.
The film was premiered on April 14, 2016 at Peak Performances, Montclair State University.

Untamed Space by André M. Zachary and Renegade Performance Group (12 mins)
In Untamed Space, Renegade Performance Group artistic director and choreographer André M. Zachery calls upon his familial lineage in the Southern United States and Haiti and his upbringing on the southside of Chicago to construct an interdisciplinary performance about “marooning” in the 21st Century. Historically, maroon colonies were liberated communities of Africans who escaped to hills, mountains, and forests upon their arrival to the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries. Untamed Space considers the spiritual dimensions of maroon colonies and, in Zachery’s own words, “how the creation of those impassible spaces has influenced contemporary identities of African-blooded people in the Americas.” As a dance film the work captures the movement of Black bodies in meditative, conversational, mundane, stoic and joyous conversations. Many of the tableaus are inspired by visual artists John Biggers and Kerry James Marshall and the sound score features original creations by Afrofuturism artists Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and the iconic King Britt.

Tiney Winey and #SAYHERNAME by Rosamond S. King (12 mins)
“Tiny Winey” is a work of movement-based performance art presented as a work-in-progress at Call and Response: Black Women & Performance. This piece confronts stereotypes about Caribbean women’s bodies and dancing, performed to the classic soca song of the same name. The headpiece for Tiny Winey was created by Kenyatta AC Hinkle as part of her Kentifrica project. An essay about this piece is forthcoming in the journal Obsidian.
“#SAYHERNAME” is part of DISOBEDIENCE, which will eventually be a series of short movement pieces commenting on Black life in the USA today. The scrolling list is made up of the names of over 100 Black women and girls who have been killed by the police. (The list is from the African American Policy Forum – aapf.org or google #SAYHERNAME.) Some of the movements are taken from Palo, a dance involving communication with the spirits of dead ancestors. Video credit: Quentin Burley, Movement Research at the Judson Church

THE HEALING SEVENS (excerpts from the Premiere presented at BAM Dance Africa 2017)    10-15 mins
Conceived and directed by Abdel R. Salaam Choreography Yao Ababio (Sounds in Motion), Brandon “Peace” Albright (hip-hop/b-boy), Jae Ponder (femme hip-hop), Abdel R. Salaam (neo-African/fusion).
The Healing Sevens was originally presented as Sevens by Forces of Nature Dance Theatre at the Apollo Theater in 2014. This new work combines the dance and musical talents of Illstyle & Peace Productions, Asase Yaa, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, and the Spirit Walkers for the first time into a megacompany of 50 artists in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of DanceAfrica. The work specifically addresses the potential power of rhythm, dance, and music of the African Diaspora to help heal the illness of gun violence within some of the inner cities of our nation. The collaboration features the choreography of Brandon “Peace” Albright, Abdel R. Salaam, and Yao Ababio. Of special note is the deconstruction and reinvention in various sections of some traditional rhythms and dance forms from Guinea into non-traditional meters and explorations of the number seven and its mythical significance. This work is dedicated to all those lives which were lost through gun violence and to the neverending work of those who attempt to heal through arts and culture.


Artist Bios

Olivier Tarpaga is an award-winning musician, dancer and choreographer, Olivier Tarpaga is the artistic director of Nomad Express International MultiArts Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Tarpaga is the founder and artistic director of the internationally-acclaimed Dafra Drum and Dafra Kura Band and co-founder of Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. He danced with David Rousseve/Reality from 2006 – 2009. In 2008, Tarpaga was commissioned by Zig Zag Ballet to choreograph Visage at the Rich Forum Stanford Center for the Arts in Connecticut. He is a recipient of numerous grants including the National Dance Project touring support, Suitcase Fund of New York Live Arts, Chime Mentorship Fellowship with David Rousseve as his mentor, the Durfee Foundation ARC, the Ohio Arts Council and the Flourish Foundation. He is currently a senior lecturer at the Department of Dance of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a lecturer at the Department of Dance of Princeton University. Tarpaga has performed and taught dance in more than 50 countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia.http://www.btdanceproject.org

Funmi Adewole has a background in media, education, arts development and performance. She started out as a media practitioner in Nigeria and moved into performance on relocating to England in 1994. For several years she toured with Physical/Visual theatre and African dance drama companies. Her credits include performances with Ritual Arts, Horse and Bamboo Mask and Puppetry Company, Artistes-in-Exile, Adzido Pan-African Dance Ensemble, Mushango African dance and Music Company and the Chomondeleys contemporary dance company. She was chair of Association of Dance of the African Diaspora in Britain (ADAD) from 2005 to 2007. In this role she initiated and directed the ADAD Heritage project, which contributed to the documentation of black-led dance companies and choreographers in England between the 1930s and 1990s. She continues to perform as a storyteller. As a dramaturge she works mainly with makers who are interdisciplinary or cross-sectorial in focus. She completed a PhD in Dance Studies at De Montfort University Leicester in 2017. Her thesis is entitled ‘British dance and the African Diaspora: The Discourses of Theatrical dance and the art of choreography – 1985 to 2005’. She is now a VC2020 lecturer in the Dance Department at the same university. Her focus is teaching and research. She is interested in PhD students with similar interests to her own.

Rosamond S. King is a critical and creative writer whose scholarly work focuses on sexuality, performance, and literature in the Caribbean and Africa. Her book Island Bodies: Transgressive Sexualities in the Caribbean Imagination received the Caribbean Studies Association best book award, and her research has been supported by the Fulbright and Ford, Mellon, and Woodrow Wilson Foundations. Her poetry includes the Lambda Award-winning Rock|Salt|Stone, and she has performed around the world. King is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York. She is also Co-Chair of the Caribbean International Resource Network, President of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, Creative Editor of sx salon. https://rosamondking.com/home

Abdel R. Salaam is a choreographer, director, producer, mentor, and educator. He has been active in the arts since 1955. In 1981 Abdel Salaam, Olabamidele Husbands, and principle dancer, Dyane Harvey founded Forces of Nature Dance Theatre Company, a New York City based Dance Company. It is a fusion of traditional African dance, ritual dance using ballet, modern dance and hip-hop. He is also the artistic director of DanceAfrica. DanceAfrica, founded by Baba Chuck Davis in 1977, has become one of the largest African American dance, music, and art festival in the United States of America.  Mr. Salaam has a vast resume from the 1980’s to today. He has been a force in African diaspora dance nationally and internationally, with residencies and fellowships throughout the US and on the continent of Africa. He has numerous dance film projects with WNET, in addition to many other projects related to African dance in and of the diaspora. He also helped establish another New York City tradition with his work with the Paul Winter Consort Winter Solstice Celebrations at St. John the Divine.  http://forcesofnature.org

Charmian Wells received her PhD in dance studies from Temple University (2018), as a Presidential Fellow and a recipient of the Dissertation Completion Grant and the Edrie Ferdun Scholarly Achievement Award.   Her work examines articulations of queerness and diaspora in Black Arts Movement concert dance in New York City (1965-1975).  This research stems from her performance career as dancer with Forces of Nature Dance Theatre since 2006.    She is on faculty at Sarah Lawrence and Lehman Colleges. Her writing has been published in Critical Correspondence and The Brooklyn Rail. She holds a BFA in Dance and MA in Performance Studies from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

André M. Zachery is a Chicago bred and now Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, scholar and technologist with a BFA from Ailey/Fordham University and MFA in Performance & Interactive Media Arts from CUNY/Brooklyn College. As the artistic director of Renegade Performance Group his practice, research and community engagement artistically focuses on merging of choreography, technology and Black cultural practices through multimedia work. André is a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard Fellow in Choreography and 2019 Jerome Hill Foundation Fellow in Choreography.http://www.renegadepg.com/

Produced by Margit Edwards in collaboration with the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.

Additional support provided by Martin Ruck, Interim Director, and Zee Dempster, Assistant Director for the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC).