In our previous series on the LLAB, we spoke with Black dancers about their experience as dance students in undergraduate and graduate programs and the challenges they faced being minorities in those spaces. This week, we started a new two-episode topic, re-centering the conversation on what it’s like to be a professional dancer while Black. We meet concert dancers Rena Butler and Maleek Washington, and talk about their unique experiences dancing with both predominantly Black and non-Black companies, as well their experience of being overqualified.
Rena is a dancer, director, and choreographer dancing with Gibney Dance Company. Maleek is a dancer, choreographer, and educator dancing with Camille A. Brown and dancers.
This is the 3rd episode in our new fall series, The LLAB with Antuan Byers. LLAB stands for listening, learning, and building. The overall goal of this series is to create a space to share marginalized Black voices, to learn from their experiences, and dream for ways in which we can move forward.
In this second week of COVID quarantine in New York City, Michael and Clara had the privilege of connecting with multi-disciplinary art maker Gabri Christa over Zoom. Gabri is a dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, scholar and all-around artist with a rich history and intriguing body of work. She told us about the cross-roads culture she experienced growing up in the Dutch Caribbean island nation of Curaçao, where she took yoga with adults and absorbed cultural dance forms before encountering modern dance when she attended university in the Netherlands. Hearing Gabri’s story of choreographing and performing at a young age on the island was an inspiring reminder that the urge to create comes not from formal training but from a well of creativity within. Most recently, Gabri has been touring her multi-media project, Magdalena, which took shape in response to her mother’s dementia, and hosting/curating the second Moving Body-Moving Image festival of dance films at Barnard. The festival theme this year is aging. It will take place completely online on April 4th from 12-6pm – we hope you’ll tune in! https://www.movingbodymovingimage.com/festival
Multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging in form, Gabri Christa’s art-making spans film, choreography, performance, curation, writing, and more. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Barnard College and a member of Mayor de Blasio’s Cultural Advisory Commission. Gabri has danced and choreographed with companies such as Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, DanzAbierta and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Awards include the Guggenheim for Choreography, and five Jerome Foundation grants. Her choreographies have been presented nationally, internationally and locally at Central Park Summer Stage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Symphony Space, PS122 and for five seasons at Dance Theater Workshop (now New York Live Arts).
We made it to episode 10 and what a year it has been! In this episode, we talk to dancer/choreographer/sound designer/DJ Jeremy Nedd about dancing in New York City for dance luminary Kyle Abraham and his experience in Europe as a dancer, choreographer and sound designer. We chatted and wondered about dance snobbery, audience engagement, and intellectual and conceptual dance traditions. Our favorite quote from Jeremy: “Ballet is a feeling.” We could not agree more. Jeremy Nedd studied at SUNY Purchase and danced in New York City before relocating to Europe to dance with the Dresden SemperOper and the Basel Ballett. He has had the opportunity to perform works by Forsythe, Kylian, Thoss, Ekman and others.