Since 2012, Dancing While Black (DWB) has served as a launching pad and community hub, bringing Black dance voices to the fore and centering a space for them to reflect and create authentically. Throughout that time, we’ve supported 22 emerging Black artists as Fellows, incubated more than two dozen works and held countless convenings for folx to share, connect and simply be.
In 2022, DWB turns 10! In the spirit of Sankofa, we are celebrating the past, present and future of Dancing While Black. From May 2022 through May 2023, in-person and virtual public programming and intimate gatherings will be co-choreographed by our DWB Shared Leadership Team: DWB Founder Paloma McGregor, Kayla Hamilton (2017-2018 DWB Fellow), Marguerite Hemmings (2015-2016 DWB Fellow) and Joya Powell (2016-2017 DWB Fellow).
The Anniversary year considers four themes that have emerged over the past decade of engagement:
- How We Do: Illuminating Practice, Process & Archive
- How We Heal: Activating Healing & Transformative Justice
- How We Build: Deepening Income, Investment & Resource-Sharing Strategies
- How We Thrive: Sharing Intergenerational Wisdom for Lifelong Wellness
We invite you to stay tuned to this web page for updates and news on our 10th Anniversary events, gatherings and storytelling.
Click each event’s button below for additional details and stay tuned to learn more about participating artists and how to register.
Stay tuned for upcoming events.
Guest Artists/Speakers: Aimee Meredith Cox (moderator), Ebony Noelle Golden, Rashida Bumbray, Paloma McGregor
COST: Sliding Scale ~ $0, $5, $20
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Meet the Collective(s) Action Guest Artists
Aimee Meredith Cox is an Anthropologist, writer, movement artist, and critical
ethnographer. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at New York University following her appointment as an Associate Professor in the African American Studies and Anthropology departments at Yale. Aimee’s first monograph, Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (Duke 2015), won the 2017 book award from the Society for the Anthropology of North America, a 2016 Victor Turner Book Prize in Ethnographic Writing, and Honorable Mention from the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize. She is also the editor of the volume, Gender: Space (MacMillan, 2018). Aimee performed and toured internationally with Ailey II and the Dance Theatre of Harlem and has choreographed performances as interventions in public and private space in Newark, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. She is currently working on two books projects and a performance ethnographic intervention based on research among Black communities in Cincinnati, Ohio. This overall project is called “Living Past Slow Death.”
Ebony Noelle Golden is an artist, scholar, and culture strategist from Houston, TX and currently living in Harlem. She devises site-specific ceremonies, live art installations, creative collaborations, and arts experiments that explore and radically imagine viable strategies for collective black liberation. In 2022, Ebony was awarded a fellowship from Princeton University’s Entrepreneurship Council and Lewis Center for the Arts. In 2020, Ebony launched Jupiter Performance Studio (JPS), a hub for the study of diasporic black performance traditions. JPS is integral to the development of community engagements and theatrical ceremonies that will be developed and produced over the next three years with partners nationally. In 2009, Ebony founded Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, a culture consultancy and arts accelerator, that devises systems, strategies, solutions for and with education, arts, culture, and community groups globally. Golden’s current projects include: Jubilee 11213, commissioned Weeksville Heritage Center and generously supported by Creative Capital, Coalition of Theaters of Color, and Black Spatial Relics; Watering Whole, a womanist climate reparations and community engagement project; and In The Name Of The Mother Tree a theatrical ceremony commissioned by the Apollo Theater and National Black Theatre and supported by the National Theater Project.)
Photo Credit: Melisa Cardona
Rashida Bumbray is a curator, choreographer, performer and arts leader. She recently curated Loophole of Retreat:Venice, a transnational symposium focused on Black women’s intellectual and creative labor, as part of Simone Leigh’s exhibition, Sovereignty, at the American Pavilion for the 59th Venice Biennale. Bumbray is a Bessie-nominated choreographer and performer whose practice draws from traditional African-American vernacular and folk forms, including ring shouts, hoofing, and blues improvisation. She is a United States Artist Fellow (2019) and an Inaugural Civic Practice Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2017-2022). Her performances have been presented by Tate Modern, London; the New Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harlem Stage, Dancing While Black, and SummerStage, all in New York; and Project Row Houses, Houston. Her work Run Mary Run was named among the New York Times’s best performances of 2012 and is featured in Common’s short film Black America Again (2016), directed by Bradford Young.
- 11am EDT | Take a Journey with Tarot facilitated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa
- 1pm EDT | Tending the Body: Restorative Mobility with Love Muwwakkil
- 3pm EDT | Roots. Marronage. Power. with Brittany Williams
- 5pm EDT | Herbal Medicine for Movers and Dancers with Italy Bianca
- 7pm EDT | Embodied Eco-Memories with Brother(hood) Dance!
COST: Sliding Scale ~ $0, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
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Meet the Facilitators and Learn About Our Offerings
Take a Journey with Tarot (11:00am–12:30pm EDT)
with Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Eva Yaa Asantewaa has been deeply immersed in Tarot practice since the early 1980s as a counselor, teacher, and meditation guide. She will guide the group in a process using Tarot symbols for revelation and liberation. You’re encouraged to bring materials to record your experiences and thoughts: a notebook or loose paper with a pen or other materials for writing and drawing or your phone to make audio notes. You need not have a Tarot or any kind of oracle deck for this workshop but, if you do, feel free to keep it nearby to consult. The images Eva refers to will be screen-shared and visually described.
Note: Participants will need something for writing or sketching.
Eva Yaa Asantewaa – born in Lenapehoking (New York City) of Barbadian immigrant heritage–is a veteran arts writer, editor, curator, educator, and spiritual counselor.
She won the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance. Since 1976, she has contributed dance criticism and journalism to major publications such as Dance Magazine, The Village Voice, SoHo Weekly News, and Gay City News and her arts blog, InfiniteBody. In 2016, for Danspace Project’s Lost and Found platform, Ms. Yaa Asantewaa created the skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds, an evening of group improvisation featuring 21 Black women and gender-nonconforming performers. Her cast won a 2017 Bessie for Outstanding Performer. Ms. Yaa Asantewaa is Founding Director of Black Diaspora, Founding Editorial Director of Imagining: A Gibney Journal, and founder of Black Curators in Dance and Performance. She was Senior Director of Curation for Gibney from 2018-2021. Read more here.
Tending the Body: Restorative Mobility (1:00–2:30pm EDT)
with Love Muwwakil
Participants should be in a comfortable area with a yoga mat or blanket, yoga blocks or something that can offer additional support if needed (pillows, stack of books) and either a yoga strap or towel/T-shirt.
Love Muwwakkil is pursuing her MFA in Dance and Social Justice at The University of Texas at Austin. With an extensive background in performing and teaching, some highlights of her career include serving as Rehearsal Director and company member for Urban Bush Women, HAIRSPRAY with Royal Caribbean, aerial dance company AeraDance and The Pulse project, performing with Gesel Mason Performance Projects, and Taylor Mac’s 24 Decade History of Popular Music. Love also teaches mobility courses as a way of tending to the body. She continues to freelance as a performer, teacher and choreographer and is always excited to take on new challenges.
Roots. Marronage. Power: Biomythology of Beyond Freedom on Our Terms (3:00–4:30pm EDT)
with Brittany Williams
This course is part fugitive, part reality. We will ‘millie- rock’ toward inquiry to explore black war dances of south florida that supported the freedom movement of the global south. We keep rockin’ our way to discover, and rediscover embodied movement pathways, signs, symbols and wonders of Miami history that connects our justice, healing and liberation by any means necessary. In this course we unearth our histories, our collective fight for sustained freedom. We continue to be generationally carried through the environment and body of the black descendants. Within this course I explore specific vibrations, gyrations of the hips, foot patterns heavily influenced by ancestral maroon communities and black seminole communities. In this short workshop I scratch the surface of new possibilities for transcribing and or how these dances have helped subconsciously and consciously carry our history of freedom struggle within our guts, blood and bones. This course is usually done outside, it explores our collective connection to our environment, galaxies and beyond.
Brittany Williams, a womanist, a ride or die freedom fighter, and art-maker – creates work that is part reality, part fugitive. She is a graduate of University of South Florida. Brittany’s artistic work biomythically explores her ancestral lineage and memory of growing up in the swamplands of Florida.
Brittany has traveled to various places in the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. She is a principal dancer with Olujimi Dance. She is a founder of Dancing for Justice organization, and Obika Dance. Williams has danced with Forces of Nature, InSPIRIT Dance Company, and Venus Rising. She recently performed in Ntozake Shange’s latest work, Lost in Language and Sound, choreographed by Dyane McIntyre. She has also apprenticed with Urban Bush Women and interned with Rennie Harris Academy of Legends Summer Program. She is the coordinator of the Makeda Thomas New Waves Summer Institute, Assistant to the Director of Miami Dade College Kendall Campus for A.I.R. Dance Conference. Brittany is also the co- founder of Get dis War Dance, an arts advocacy collective. Williams served as the interim executive director of Million Hoodies for Justice, and implemented their arts and culture programming in college and city based chapters. She is also the founder of We Keep Us Safe of Abolitionist Network, which organizes mutual aid funds for people impacted by state sanctioned violence and natural disasters like hurricanes.
Embodied Eco-Memories (5:00–6:30pm EDT)
with Brother(hood) Dance!
Embodied Eco-memory is a process of remembering, rooting, and countering mainstream environmentalism. This earth based experience asks to recall your intimate relationship with the earth to deepen our collective awareness toward a healthier planet.
Brother(hood) Dance! is the 2020 Bessies Honoree of the NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies for Afro/Solo/Man. They are an interdisciplinary duo that seeks to inform its audiences about the socio-political and environmental injustices from a global perspective, bringing clarity to the same-gender-loving African-American experience in the 21st century. Brother(hood) Dance! was formed in April 2014 as a duo that researches, creates, and performs dances of freedom by Orlando Zane Hunter, Jr. and Ricarrdo Valentine. We have performed our works at FiveMyles, Center for Performance Research, B.A.A.D! (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance), VCU-The Grace Street Theater, DraftWork at St. Mark’s Church, JACK, Movement Research at Judson Church, Colby College, Denmark Arts Center, Universidad de las Américas Puebla/Performática(MX), Escuela Profesional de Danza de Mazatlán/Viso Festival (MX), Jean-Rene Delsolins Institute (HT) and other venues. Ricarrdo and Orlando are attending The Ohio State University for their MFA in Dance integrating Agriculture and Technology.
Herbal Medicine for Movers and Dancers (7:00–8:30pm)
with Italy Bianca
Nurturing the physicality of one’s body is essential. A wellness herbal kit for dancers and movers for this upcoming season to protect, uplift, and bring abundance to self. Within this workshop, you will learn how to make a tea blend, foot soak, and body spray using kitchen-accessible herbs.
Note: Participants will need one of the following ~ a notebook, phone, computer, or tablet. General materials to have on hand during the workshop include:
- at least three of the following household herbs: lavender, sage, rose, chamomile, clove, star anise, thyme, or rosemary;
- liquids for use, which can include Water, Florida water, Witch Hazel and Milk or any Milk alternative.
Italy Bianca is a multimedia/ sacred artist raised in South Carolina but currently living in Brooklyn, NY. She received a B.A. in Dance Education and Dance Performance and Choreography from Coker University . She has also trained at the Joffrey Ballet School in their Jazz and Contemporary dance program.
She has collaborated with various dancers, community leaders, groups, organizations and programs in NYC, She was also nominated for a Bessie award for Outstanding Performer in 2017 and appeared in Crystal Waters’ “I am House” video in 2018. Presented Work at Gibney Dance in 2019 (Ame-ricana), a work inspired by fragments of her southern roots. She has study and apprentice Herbalism at Sacred Vibes Apothecary with Empress Karen M. Rose.
Italy has chosen to use her artistic energy to shine light on what it means to give your creativity, passion and raw emotion the freedom to explore and expand. Through her brand and platform, transformational experiences can be found by journaling movement, healing through creative release and being open to self-expression.
LED BY WENDI O’NEAL AND PALOMA MCGREGOR
With Invited Guests: Shani Jamila, Adia Whitaker, Courtney Cook, Maria Bauman, Ishmael Houston-Jones and Hank Smith
ADMISSION: FREE WITH RSVP. LIMITED SEATING.
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Meet the Sankofa Story Circle Featured Artists
Wendi Moore O’Neal, is the daughter of a SNCC field secretary and Auntie to many youthful freedom fighters. This Black, Feminist, butch, dyke is a cultural worker who was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana where she currently lives and works out of the home she shares with her wife and mother. Wendi uses story circles and song sharing, learned from her family of movement veterans, as tools for growing inspiration and building democratic process. She currently serves as the Co-director of Southerners On New Ground (SONG). SONG is an abolitionist queer organization that works to build, train and connect grassroots organizers to win abolitionist campaigns in the US south.
Maria Bauman (she/her) is a Brooklyn, NY-based multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer from Jacksonville, FL. Since 2009, she creates bold and honest artworks for her company MBDance, based on physical and emotional power, insistence on equity, and fascination with intimacy. In particular, Bauman’s dance work centers the non-linear and linear stories and bodies of queer people of color onstage. She draws on her long study of English literature, capoeira, improvisation, dancing in living rooms and nightclubs, as well as concert dance classes to embody interconnectedness, joy, and tenacity. Bauman was recently recognized with a Bessie Award for Outstanding Production for her choreographic work on Saul Williams’s The Motherboard Suite, and this follows the Bessie she won in 2017 for Outstanding Performance with the Black dance improvisation group Skeleton Architecture.
Bauman is also a community organizer and co-founder of ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity) which is built on the foundation of The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s anti-racist community organizing principles. Additionally, she is part of the Dancing While Black family/organizing group. Organizing to undo racism informs her artistic work and the two areas are each ropes in a Double-dutch that is her holistic practice. | mbdance.net
Courtney J. Cook is a Virginia Native now residing in Brooklyn, NY. She began her formal movement and vocal development at family reunions and her home church. She is a graduate of the Virginia Governor’s School of the Arts and holds a B.F.A in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is now Associate Artistic Director, BOLD facilitator, and performing company member with Urban Bush Women, a company member with MBDance, and was a featured artist with Marguerite Hemmings (we free). She is honored to be a recipient of the 2018 “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Performance for her work with all three of these organizations. As a creator, she has had the privilege of performing her solo work, “PoolPITT”, as a featured artist in ModArts Dance Collective’s Collective Thread ‘17, the Estrogenious Festival ‘17, curated by Maura Donohue, and BDAC’s Creative Emancipation Collaboration, curated by Ebony Noelle Golden. She also has been able to create in collaboration with interdisciplinary artists Tendayi Kuumba and Greg Purnell (UFlyMothership) exploring movement, sound, theater, and visual art. Currently, Cook is involved as performer/choreographic collaborator in Cannabis! A Viper Vaudville, created by Baba Isreal and Grace Galu (Soul Inscribed), premiering at La MaMa in July 2022.
Ishmael Houston-Jones is choreographer, author, performer, teacher, and curator. His improvised dance and text work has been performed world-wide. He has received three New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards for collaborations with writer Dennis Cooper, choreographers Miguel Gutierrez and Fred Holland and composers Chris Cochrane and Nick Hallett. Houston-Jones curated Platform 2012: Parallels which concentrated on choreographers from the African diaspora and postmodernism and co-curated with Will Rawls Platform 2016: Lost & Found, Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now.
As an author Houston-Jones’ essays, fiction, interviews, and performance texts have been published in several anthologies. His first book, FAT and other stories, was published in June 2018 by Yonkers International Press.
Houston-Jones is a 2022 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been supported by The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts and The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Shani Jamila is a conceptual artist & cultural producer who explores identity formation in African American and African diasporic communities. She utilizes her family’s genealogical records as a primary source and her travels to over fifty countries deeply inform her practice. Her paintings, soundscapes, and collages have been presented at the Manifesta European Contemporary Art Biennial, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y Diseño, Ace Hotel, Corridor Gallery and Harvard’s Cooper Gallery.
She is the founder and host of Lineage— an archive of intimate, in-depth interviews with contemporary socially engaged Black artists. Her meditative film We Hold These Truths, produced with the Park Avenue Armory, features inspiring reflections on ancestry from a multidisciplinary cast of history shaping artists. Named “One of the 35 Most Remarkable Women in the World” by ESSENCE magazine, Shani’s portrait and quote are featured in “A Choice to Change the World,” a permanent installation of artists & advocates at her alma mater Spelman College. Her work has been supported by the Aspen Institute, TED, MASS MoCA, Brooklyn Arts Council, National Arts Club, and the J. William Fulbright Foundation.
Hank Smith has done mime, clowning, dance, photography, video and television production. For twenty years he was a Stage Manger on Sesame Street, also functioning as Associate Director, Actor and Choreographer. As a tap dancer and educator, he has participated in the NY Committee to Celebrate National Tap Dance Day’s Tap Extravaganza, the Tradition In Tap Experiences, NY Tap City, NJ Tap Festival and Tap Family Reunion. His The Story of Tap was presented at Dixon Place between 1998 and 2018. He is the recipient of the 2019 Tap Preservation Award and his performance work has been presented in and around the NYC area. His photography appears in the documentary, “Mr. SOUL!”, about the ground breaking producer, Ellis Haizlip. An Associate Professor Emeritus at Bloomfield College, New Jersey, he is currently hosting the online one on one conversation series, “Hangin’ with Hank”.
Adia Tamar Whitaker, Artistic Director of the 19-year old Brooklyn based dance theater ensemble Àse Dance Theatre Collective, has performed contemporary dance, vernacular movement, Afro-Haitian, and Haitian dance in the U.S. and abroad for seventeen years. Whitaker has traveled to Haiti, Cuba, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ghana, Jamaica, and Trinidad, to study and teach dance. Whitaker received an MFA in Dance from Hollins University, a BA in Dance from San Francisco State University, and completed the Professional Division U.S. Independent Studies Program at The Ailey School. She was also an Urban Bush Women Apprentice, a Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography @ FSU Creative Entry Point Choreographic Fellow, a Jerome Foundation grantee, and Isadora Duncan Award recipient. Most recently, Whitaker received the highly competitive NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Award in Choreography and completed her second year of her Dunham Technique Certification.