Nora Chipaumire

THE BESSIES: Five 2019 Nominees

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Jessica and Clara had the great pleasure of interviewing five 2019 Bessie Award nominees this year – in order of interview: Caleb Teicher, Molly Poerstel, Shamar Watt, Ni’Ja Whitson and Leslie Cuyjet! (See below for nominations!) The Bessies – which celebrate their 35 anniversary this year –  are New York City’s premier annual dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, and our interviewees could not have illustrated this more clearly. We were fascinated to dig into the inspiration and processes behind a sampling of the imaginative, diverse, socially important and truly outstanding works that are being recognized this year. We hope you will enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed conversing. For more about each artist, continue scrolling for individual bios/episodes! Note that the Bessies awards ceremony will take place on Monday, October 14th, 2019. Jessica and Clara will be there, alongside our five interviewees and of course many more. Come join us and be sure to say ‘hi’!

Caleb Teicher – Nominated for three awards: Outstanding Breakout Choreographer, Outstanding Production (More Forever, Guggenheim Works & Process ), and Outstanding Sound Design/Musical Composition (along with Conrad Tao), for the same work

Molly Poerstel  – Nominated for Outstanding Performer for Sustained Achievement with Hilary Clark, David Dorfman, Jeanine Durning, Alex Escalante, Juliana F. May, Susan Rethorst, Roseanne Spradlin, and Larissa Velez-Jackson

Shamar Watt – Nominated for outstanding Performer for Sustained Achievement in the work of Nora Chipaumire

Ni’Ja Whitson – Nominated for two awards: Outstanding Production (Oba Qween Baba King Baba, Co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Abrons Arts Center), and costume co-designer / member of Outstanding Visual Design, for the same work, together with Jeanne Medina (Costumes), Gil Sperling (Video – featuring art works by Wangechi Mutu and Galvin Jantejes ), and Tuçe Yasak (Lighting)

Leslie Cuyjet – Nominated for Outstanding Performer for Sustained Achievement in the work of Jane Comfort, Niall Jones, Juliana F. May, Cynthia Oliver, and Will Rawls


2019 BESSIE NOMINEE: Shamar Watt

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Pod de Deux interviewed Shamar Watt as part of a series of interviews with five 2019 NYC Bessie Award nominees. Shamar was nominated for a Bessie for Sustained Achievement in the work of Nora Chipaumire. We hope to do a full-length interview with him in the future!

Shamar Watt is an artist born in Kingston, Jamaica, he was raised in both Jamaica and Miami, FL. He received his AA in psychology, and a BFA in Dance at FSU. What drives Watt as an artist is the quest to fill in the blank spots of history by projecting and manifesting the potential of the possible past-futures/futures alike. He uses the Body as a weapon to manifest the powers vested in him to attain emancipation and liberation of the whole self – mind, body and soul for himself, the people, and for all mankind, through sound waves, gravitational waves, spirit waves. He is also deeply invested in the potentiality/impossibility of bridging the divide of the old/new African. Watt has researched and performed with Nora Chipaumire since 2015, in Zimbabwe and internationally. Watt continues to work on his own craft as an emerging choreographer/sound engineer. He has been performing and presenting his own work professionally for 3 years. His work has been presented in secular venues and at sacred happenings frequently. Shamar Watt was a 2018 Bessie nominee, and also elected as one of 2019 top 25 to watch from Dance Magazine!