Knowing Dance More Series
Wednesdays 11:30-12:50pm
Gershman YGym Dance Theater | 401 S. Broad St.

Presented by the School of Dance, "Knowing Dance More" is a series of lectures, conversations and informal showings led by visiting artists and scholars in the international field of dance. Curated by Lauren Bakst, this series seeks to bring into focus current issues within the production, performance and practice of dance works and will hopefully foster ongoing conversations about knowing dance (more).

February 21 - Tara Aisha Willis: Frames for Dancing Blackness


Willis shares pieces of her dissertation research, as it is developing alongside her own dance and curatorial practices. This research brings the notion of “dancing blackness” to bear on taisha paggett's performance installation in the 2015 Whitney Biennial and two performances that used Audre Lorde’s text "Poetry is Not A Luxury" to create open-ended curatorial architectures for collaborative, improvised dance events. Dancing identity as a durational process rather than ontological fact allows an aesthetics of ambiguity to emerge. In improvisation, this ambiguity allows for a consideration of the history sedimented into performing bodies and the material, present-tense of bodies in action. She also shares new notes in process on making and performing in What Remains, a collaboration between choreographer Will Rawls and poet Claudia Rankine that contends with the "already-dead" space of black living.

Tara Aisha Willis is a dance artist, PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU and after several years as an administrator for programming and diversity initiatives at Movement Research, recently became Associate Curator of Performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She currently performs in a collaboration between choreographer Will Rawls and poet Claudia Rankine, and in works by Kim Brandt, Megan Byrne, and Yanira Castro. She was part of the first performance by The Skeleton Architecture, a collective of black women and gender non-conforming dancers and improvisors, and was archivist/dramaturg for an in-process collaboration between Ni’Ja Whitson and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. Her choreography has been shown at Movement Research at Judson Church, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Roulette, THROW, Dixon Place, The Painting Center, AUNTS, the CURRENT SESSIONS, Center for Performance Research, and Draft Works at Danspace Project. She was a 2009 Dance Theater Workshop Van Lier Fellow, a 2016 Chez Bushwick Artist in Residence, co-curator of the Movement Research Festival Spring 2016: Hand Written Note(s), recipient of NYU’s 2017 Stefanos Tsigrimanis Artistic Scholar Award. She has been Women & Performance’s performance reviews editor, TDR’s co-managing editor, and co-edited, with Thomas F. DeFrantz, a special issue of The Black Scholar on black dance studies (2016). Other writings appear in Movement Research Performance Journal, The Brooklyn Rail, Magazin im August, Voices from the Bush, and a Danspace Project Platform catalogue (forthcoming 2018).

Photo: Ian Douglas

March 14 - Gerard & Kelly: On Modern Living


Modern Living is an ongoing series of performances and videos by Gerard & Kelly sited in iconic modernist homes around the world. Mining these “ruins” of modernism for their hidden choreographies and radical social experiments, the artists posit questions around memory, the architecture of intimacy, and queer space.

Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly have collaborated since 2003. Their installations and performances use choreography, writing, video, and sculpture to address questions of sexuality, memory, and the formation of queer consciousness. Exhibitions and performances of their work have been presented by the Festival d’Automne (Paris), Chicago Architecture Biennial, Guggenheim Museum (New York), New Museum (New York), Made in LA Biennial at the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), and The Kitchen (New York). Gerard & Kelly completed the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 2010, and received their MFAs from the UCLA Department of Art in 2013.  

Gerard & Kelly have received numerous recognitions for their work, including grants from the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, Art Matters, Graham Foundation, and the Juried Award from the New York Dance and Performance Awards, also known as the Bessies. Their work is in the collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Photo Caption: Gerard & Kelly at the Schindler House, West Hollywood, California. Photo: Matthu Placek.

Wednesday April 4: Thomas F. DeFrantz & Jaamil Olawale Kosoko


In this iteration of Knowing Dance More, artists and scholars Thomas F. DeFrantz and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko will each present on the world-making potentialities embedded within their performance practices and processes. Followed by a conversation moderated by curator Lauren Bakst.

Thomas F. DeFrantz's talk will explore the process of creating collaborative improvisatory work. How do we encourage a working among that allows for shared creativity in building performances? How do we move toward each other’s nervous systems in improvisational structures, and how might we resist coercing others into a singular point of physical reference? What does it mean to actually work together toward a creative idea through our differences? The talk will explore examples from works created by SLIPPAGE: Performance|Culture|Technology.

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko will screen WHITE STATE | BLACK MIND: the making of #negrophobia, a film by Kosoko and Marica De Michelle. Performance and other forms of creative practice can reimagine or reframe the world, but how does performance as an activist practice help us foreground and work through structural and systemic forms of violence and oppression, in particular as these relate to Black identities? What might queer, oblique and alternative readings of society reveal about the intricacies and multiplicities of Blackness?

Thomas F. DeFrantz received the 2017 Outstanding Research in Dance award from the Dance Studies Association. He is Professor at Duke University, and director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications. His credits include: Books: Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (2002), Dancing Revelations Alvin Ailey's Embodiment of African American Culture (2004), Black Performance Theory, co-edited with Anita Gonzalez (2014), Choreography and Corporeality: Relay in Motion, co-edited with Philipa Rothfield (2016), Creative: Queer Theory! An Academic Travesty commissioned by the Theater Offensive of Boston and the Flynn Center for the Arts; fastDANCEpast, created for the Detroit Institute for the Arts; reVERSE-gesture-reVIEW commissioned by the Nasher Museum in response to the work of Kara Walker, January, 2017. Convener: Black Performance Theory working group and Collegium for African Diaspora Dance. Curation: afroFUTUREqu##r with niv ACOSTA at Jack, October, 2015; National Black Arts Festival Dance Focus, 2015. Teaching: American Dance Festival, ImpusTanz, the New Waves Dance Institute, pOnderosa, as well as MIT, Stanford, Yale, NYU, Hampshire College, and the University of Nice. Musical score: past-carry-forward for Dance Theatre of Harlem, 2013. In 2013, working with Takiyah Nur Amin, he founded the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance, a growing consortium of 200 researchers. In 2015, he created a tap work “tell me a secret” for students at Washington University in St. Louis, and in 2016 he created a contemporary improvisational work “...but are we good now?” for the students at Columbia College Chicago; in 2017 he created the tap work “…how could I have known?” for students at Connecticut College. Tommy believes in our shared capacity to do better, and to engage our creative spirit for a collective good that is anti-racist, anti-homophobic, proto-feminist, and queer affirming.

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko is a Bessie Award nominated Nigerian-American artist working within the creative spheres of poetry, performance, curation, community organizing, and education. He is a 2017 Princeton Arts Fellow, a 2017 Jerome Artists in Residence at Abrons Arts Center, a 2017 APAP Leadership Fellow, and a 2017 Cave Canem Poetry Fellow. He is a recipient of a 2017 and 2016 USArtists International Awards from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. He has created original roles in the performance works of visual artist Nick Cave, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Keely Garfield Dance, Miguel Gutierrez and The Powerful People, Headlong Dance Theater, among others. Kosoko’s poems, interviews, and essays can be found published in The American Poetry Review, Poems Against War, The Dunes Review, Silo, Detroit Research v2, Dance Journal (PHL), the Broad Street Review (PHL), Movement Research Performance Journal, and Critical Correspondence (NYC). He continues to guest teach, speak, lecture, and perform internationally. His newest work Séancers is currently touring throughout Europe.

Image: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Erik Carter


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