In our previous episode, we explored the stories and experiences of two Black dance leaders, their leadership styles, how they navigate their Blackness in their workplaces, as well as ways that they advocate for their Black dancers. Today, we’re peeling back another layer, getting to know two dance leaders in dance advocacy and dance management. We examine how our culture influences our work, and what it’s like to represent and advocate for Black dancers, and dancers of color, on both a local and global level.
Candace Thompson Zachary is a performer, choreographer, fitness professional, cultural producer, teaching artist, Caribbean dance specialist, and Manager of Justice, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives at DanceNYC. Sophie Myrtil-McCourty is the President of Lotus Arts Management, where she represents leading dance companies such as Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE, AIM by Kyle Abraham, Reggie Wilson Fist & Heel Performance Group, Bereishit Dance Company, and CONTRA-TIEMPO.
Pod de Deux interviewed Ni’Ja Whitsonas part of a series of interviews with five 2019 NYC Bessie Award nominees. Ni’Ja was nominated for a Bessie for outstanding production and Visual Design of Oba Qween Baba King Baba, which was Co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Abrons Arts Center. We hope to do a full-length interview with them in the future!
Ni’Ja Whitson (CA/NYC) is a Creative Capital and Bessie Award winning, Nonbinary Transinterdisciplinary artist and writer, who has been referred to as “majestic” by The New York Times and recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. Theyare a 2018 MAP Fund recipient, featured choreographer of the 2018 CCA Biennial, 2019 USA Artists Fellowship Nominee, and 2018-2020 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow. Other recent awards include a Jerome/Camargo Fellowship, Watermill Residency, Dance in Process (DiP) Residency, Hedgebrook Fellowship, LMCC Process Space Residency, Bogliasco Fellowship, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange Artist Residency. Whitson is an Assistant Professor of experimental choreography at UC Riverside and founder of The NWA Project. www.nijawhitson.com
Ni’Ja’s Oba Qween Baba King Baba engages spiritual multiplicity and the role of Queerness in the Divine. The work’s title is based on the Yorùbá word “Oba,” which is a genderless term that has come to be known as a king. An iteration of this work was presented during Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance (Platform 2018) curated by Reggie Wilson.
In this episode, Jessica and Clara interviewed dancer Paul Hamilton about his experience collaborating with a diverse range of choreographers including Alonzo King, Elizabeth Streb, Reggie Wilson, Ralph Lemon and Keely Garfield. He shared a bit about each choreographer’s style and process and talked about his own journey of discovering and re-discovering dance as his passion and joy. He also let us in on some of the fascinating dramaturgical processes behind Reggie Wilson / Fist and Heel Performance Group’s production of Moses(es), and Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room (from which the above image derived).
Soul Train was one of the influences behind Paul’s Bessie-nominated performance of Scaffold Room. Enjoy this video homage to Soul Train!(more…)