Kupferberg Center for the Arts presents "Action Songs/Protest Dances" (World Premiere)
Kupferberg Center for the Arts
Kupferberg Center for the Arts presents the World Premiere of Action Songs/Protest Dances, a live music and dance performance conceived, directed, and choreographed by Edisa Weeks. The work features five original songs commissioned by composers/musicians Taina Asili, Spirit McIntyre, and Martha Redbone. Three of the songs are inspired by the life, speeches, and writings of civil rights activist James Forman (1928-2005), whose personal archives are housed at the Queens College Rosenthal Library; and two are about social justice issues in America today. Together, the songs and dances serve as a call to action, a protest against injustice, and a demand that America become a more just, equitable, inclusive and truly great nation. The piece is the first presented as a result of the innovative Kupferberg Arts Incubator. Kupferberg Center for the Arts is located 65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 11367. Performances: Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 8pm and Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 3pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at https://kupferbergcenter.org/event/action-songs-protest-dances/.
Launched in 2020, the Kupferberg Arts Incubator is an artist residency initiative that supports the work by artists of color who are active contributors to the cultural landscape of New York City and the nation. The Kupferberg Arts Incubator consists of two-year collaborative residencies by two artists—one from the Queens College community and one external—which result in the creation of new original works that will involve Queens College students and faculty. Queens College professor and choreographer Edisa Weeks has led the inaugural project (culminating in these performances), and Queens College professor and multiform conceptual artist, Chloë Bass is developing the Kupferberg Arts Incubator's second project, scheduled for completion in 2024.
"KCA is thrilled to bring the inaugural Kupferberg Arts Incubator project to fruition with Action Songs/Protest Dances, a new music and dance work by the brilliant choreographer and Professor Edisa Weeks, whose vision for this piece was a masterclass in collaboration and creative exploration. Edisa's depth of commitment and passion towards this project has been an inspiration for everyone involved," said Jon Yanofsky, Director, Kupferberg Center for the Arts.
"I started teaching at Queens College in 2010, which is also when the QC Rosenthal Library Civil Rights Archives acquired James Forman's personal papers. I was incredibly excited as Forman was the first person I heard criticize capitalism as an exploitive economic system. I was a kid at the time, and remember feeling shocked, as I grew up playing monopoly and believing that capitalism was good and the "American Way. " Since 2010 I've been wondering how I can lift up James Forman's voice, work, advocacy and sacrifices during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's. Then in 2020 the pandemic happened, followed by the murder of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor. I began wondering how as a choreographer I can engage with the protests that were happening across the nation and help address injustices in America. The Kupferberg Center for the Arts Incubator Project provided the opportunity to create Action Songs/Protest Dances which celebrates the life and words of James Forman, and through music and dance advocates for America to be a truly great nation!" said Edisa Weeks, Choreographer, Educator, Founder, DELIRIOUS Dances
About the Artists
Edisa Weeks (she/her) is a Brooklyn, NY based choreographer, educator and director of DELIRIOUS Dances. Weeks creates intimate environments that merge theater with dance. Described by the New York Times as having "a gift for simple but striking visual effects," her work has been performed in a variety of venues including Aaron Davis Hall, Alfred University, chashama theater, Dixon Place, Emory University, Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum, Harlem Stage, Jacob's Pillow, The Kennedy Center, The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, The Mermaid Parade, The National Black Arts Festival, Summerstages Dance Festival, and The Yard. She has also performed in swimming pools, senior centers, sidewalks, storefront windows and various living rooms, including living rooms in Berlin, Germany, as part of Haus der Kulturen der Welts 50th anniversary celebration. She also is an Associate Professor of Dance at Queens College CUNY where she teaches choreography, improvisation, modern dance technique, and mentors emerging artists. Learn more: https://www.deliriousdances.com/
Taína Asili (she/her/ella) is a New York-based Puerto Rican singer, composer, filmmaker and activist carrying on the tradition of her ancestors, fusing past and present struggles into one soulful and defiant voice. For over 20 years she has brought the music of love and liberation to venues across the globe – From the Women's March on Washington to Carnegie Hall to the mainstage of San Francisco Pride. After the 2016 election, a bigger audience caught up to the artist Huffington Post named one of "12 Freedom Fighting Bands to Get You Through the Trump Years." Her protest songs and music videos "No Es Mi Presidente," "Freedom," "And We Walk," and "We Are Rising" — inspired by social movements for racial, gender, and climate justice — have been lauded by the likes of Rolling Stone, Billboard, and NPR, and her music has aired numerous times on Democracy Now!. With her last three albums War Cry (2010), Fruit of Hope (2014), and Resiliencia (2019), Asili uses a multi-genre and multilingual approach to connect with a variety of audiences, confidently weaving between rock, salsa, reggae, cumbia, reggaeton, hip hop, ska, samba and Afrobeat to give her music a texture that's unique yet rooted. With powerful vocals and infectious rhythms, Asili's music urges people to dance to the rhythm of rebellion. Learn more: http://tainaasili.com/
Spirit McIntyre (spirit/they/them) is a Cellist, Vocalist, Lyricist, Reiki Practitioner, Compassionate Facilitator, and Visual Artist, who promotes empowerment and healing by any medium necessary. They began their Reiki journey in January 2008 studying the methods, techniques, hand positions, and theories of Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Levels I, II and III. As an independent artist, Spirit has composed and produced several albums: 'Blusolaz', 2003; 'Bars Of Gold', 2005; 'It Soon Come', 2013; and 'Mourning To The Moonlight', 2014. Spirit is a prolific collaborator and has been crafting improvisationally based live music for dance and theatre since the early 2000's. Dastak: I Wish You Me, their most recent dance evening-length collaboration, with ADT in Minnesota, that debuted their first soundscape composition in October 2021. They have been the Core Organizer (2017-19) and the Compassionate Community Architect (2020-21) for Trans*Visible, a network that challenges Binarism and Cis-Sexism in social justice movements. Learn more: https://www.spiritparismcintyre.com/
Martha Redbone (she/her) is a vocalist/songwriter/composer/educator. She is known for her music gumbo of folk, blues and gospel from her childhood in coal country Harlan County, Kentucky infused with the eclectic grit of pre-gentrified New York City. Inheriting the powerful vocal range of her gospel-singing African American father and the resilient spirit of her mother's southeastern Cherokee/Choctaw culture and heritage, Redbone broadens the boundaries of American Roots music. With songs and storytelling that share her life experience as an Afro-Native American woman and mother navigating in the new millennium, Redbone gives voice to issues of social justice, connecting cultures, and celebrating the human spirit. Her latest album "The Garden of Love-Songs of William Blake" is "a brilliant collision of cultures" (New Yorker). Learn more: https://martharedbone.com/
Noni Byrd-Gibbs (she/her) was born in Queens, New York. Her love and interest in dance was nurtured at the age of five at Danielle's Educating for the future- a private elementary school in Brooklyn. Her informal training continued inconsistently throughout junior high at Renaissance Middle School 192 and high school – Queens Gateway to the Health Sciences Secondary school – as she also developed an appreciation for health careers. She recently graduated from CUNY Queens College with a BA in Dance. She is currently performing with DELIRIOUS Dances and independently training in traditional African dance and dancehall. For future endeavors, Noni has decided to pair her love for dance with a career in Women's Health and Movement Therapy.
Steven Jeltsch (they/them) is a New York City based dance/movement artist with a strong foundation in performance art. Along their journey, they've created and performed for international choreographers from Times Square to the American Dance Festival stage. They have a Dance BA from Queens College and are an active member of Putnam County Dance Project. As a budding artist, they seek to investigate, dissect, and patchwork present-day cultural dynamics with their enigmatic relationships to performance.
Johnnie Cruise Mercer (he/him) is a queer black think-maker; a performer, choreographer, and producer born in Richmond, VA and based in New York City. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Dance and Choreography, Johnnie considers himself a artist who firmly believes in movement philosophy, and the action of embodying history. He has had the privilege of performing for, and collaborating with Antonio Brown/Antonio Brown Dance, Monstah Black & The Illustrious Blacks, André Zachery/Renegade Performance Group, Yon Tande, Ishmael Houston-Jones (2018 remount of THEM), Netta Yerushalmy, Maria Bauman/MBDance, Edisa Weeks/DELIRIOUS Dances, Antonio Ramos, and more recently with Arthur Aviles/Typical Theater. He was a part of Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez's 2018 Bessie Award-winning reconstruction/reimaging, Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd. www.trpnyc.com
Devin Oshiro (she/her) is a Japanese Mexican American dance artist from the Los Angeles region, residing in Brooklyn with a BA in Dance from California State University of Fullerton. Her artistry is expressed through dancing, performing, teaching, creating, arts administration, and advocacy. In the past decade, she had the pleasure of working with Edisa Weeks, Joanna Kotze, Sumi Clements, Mike Esperanza, Gina Gibney, Amy Miller, Reggie Wilson, Maija Garcia, Patrick Corbin, Keely Garfield, and more. Currently, Devin works as the Senior Community Action Artistic Manager at Gibney, utilizing the arts for social action, specifically gender-based violence. She teaches movement workshops that promote self-care and creativity and engages young people in conversations around healthy relationships. Devin joined DELIRIOUS Dances in 2012, and she feels grateful for this rich collaboration through the years.
Brittany Stewart (she/her) is a dancer, choreographer, and educator. She began dancing at age six at Dena School of the Arts, began assistant teaching by eleven, and at age sixteen, Brittany became an instructor in modern dance and ballet. She attended Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, where she majored in performance dance. In 2014, Brittany received a B.A. in Arts Administration with a specialization in Theatre from Baruch College. Shortly afterwards, she started teaching dance to grades 6–8 through Sports and Arts in School Foundation (SASF). She has led the 680Q SASF Dance Ensemble to many successful performances. Her choreography has been presented at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, SASF's NYU Skirball Performing Arts Showcases, Harlem School of the Arts' Celebrates Dance Festivals, I.S. 238Q, P.S. 680Q, M.S. 358Q, Hunter College and Queens College. In May of 2018, she graduated from Queens College with a B.A. in Dance. She received her M.A. in Dance Education from the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College in May of 2020.
Marýa Wethers (she/her) is the Project Manager of the Action Songs/Protest Dances project. She has lived and worked in Lenapehoking (NYC) since 1997. Marýa works as an Independent Producer, Creative Strategist, and Curator and also a contemporary dancer. She works with Movement Research as the Director of the GPS/Global Practice Sharing program, and as Producer for jumatatu m. poe, Edisa Weeks/DELIRIOUS Dances and OzuzuDances. As a Curator she conceived and created the three-week performance series "Gathering Place: Black Queer Land(ing)" at Gibney Dance and curated for Mount Tremper Arts Watershed Lab Residency (2019 & 2018), the Queer NY International Arts Festival (2016 & 2015) and Out of Space @ BRIC Studio for Danspace Project (2003-2007). Her writings have been published in Configurations in Motion: Performance Curation and Communities of Color (2016 & 2015) organized by Thomas F. DeFrantz at Duke University and the Movement Research Performance Journal 25th Anniversary Issue #27/28 (Spring 2005). She has served on selection panels for several presenting and funding organizations in NY and nationally.
Kupferberg Center for the Arts (KCA) at Queens College was created in 2006 to honor alumnus Max Kupferberg for his $10 million gift to the College in support of the arts. KCA is charged with marketing cultural events, developing cross-disciplinary collaborations among Queens College's arts units and between the arts units and off-campus partners, raising funds, and working with an Arts Advisory Board comprised of academic and community stakeholders. The overall mission of Kupferberg Center is to provide high quality accessible and affordable cultural attractions to the Queens College community and the borough's 2.2 million residents. The largest multi-disciplinary arts entity in the borough, KCA features world-class artists and performances at its main stage campus venues and showcases the talents of emerging and regional artists in off-site, neighborhood settings. A leader in the cultural renaissance of Queens, KCA connects residents of the most ethnically diverse region of the nation to their unique cultural heritages, showcasing these arts to a broader audience and validating the contributions each makes to the distinct nature of our campus and community. Kupferberg Center for the Arts' 2022-2023 Season is sponsored by New York Community Bank – Queens County Savings Bank Division. Major support is provided by the Max and Selma Kupferberg Family Foundation and the Howard Gilman Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Resorts World NYC. Kupferberg Center's presenting and outreach programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the NY City Council.
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