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PROVIDENCE, RI: Motion State Dance Festival 2022

PROVIDENCE, RI: Motion State Dance Festival 2022


Motion State Arts


Southside Cultural Center (393 Broad St) + WaterFire Arts Center (475 Valley St)
Providence, RI


Saturday, March 5, 2022 - 12:00pm
Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 7:30pm
Thursday, March 10, 2022 - 7:30pm
Friday, March 11, 2022 - 7:30pm
Saturday, March 12, 2022 - 7:30pm



Motion State Arts



March 5–12, 2022
WaterFire Arts Center (Performances) and Southside Cultural Center (Roots Party)
Providence, RI

Four nights, three different programs—plus post-show talk-backs and a daytime Roots Party.

Information/Tickets: www.motionstatearts.org
$20/Wed. & Thurs. ($15 student); $30/Fri. & Sat. ($20 student); $60/3-night pass ($40 student) 
The Roots Party is free!


The Motion State Dance Festival finally returns! After the successful inaugural festival in March 2020—and a pandemic pause—the second “annual” Motion State Dance Festival is back with a dazzling array of performances, dance films and artist/audience interactions, and our headliner: celebrated choreographer Edisa Weeks performing her solo work-in-progress 3 RITES: Liberty before it tours nationally.

“That’s the most far out thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Funny, exciting and inventive.”
“...a practically perfect work of political theater.”
—Abigail Weil, The Theater Times, on Edisa Weeks’ 3 RITES: Liberty

The Motion State Dance Festival introduces Rhode Island audiences to the latest in contemporary dance. Local and national artists converge to share their boundary-pushing creative explorations with a growing Rhode Island dance audience.

Live performances with: Edisa Weeks (NYC), Shura Baryshnikov (Providence), Olivier Besson (Boston), Assitan “Sita” Coulibaly (Providence), Heidi Henderson (Wakefield, RI), Lila Hurwitz (Providence), Alexandra James (Portland, ME), Joshua Tuason (Providence), Cathy Nicoli (Tiverton, RI) and others TBA.

Dance films by: Kate Corby (WI), Tori Lawrence (MA), Annabella Lenzu (NY), Katie Beard and Naomi Turner (UK), and Esther Dganit Zimmerman (Tel Aviv).


SATURDAY, MARCH 5, 12 - 4pm: Roots Party
Southside Cultural Center, 393 Broad St, Providence
Free and open to all ages; tickets required

Multi-disciplinary artist Edisa Weeks invites you to join her in the journey of making 1,865 roots out of paper and twine. We’ll make roots, share a meal, and engage in a community conversation led by thinkers, practitioners and community members.

The roots are for the March 11–12 performance installation, 3 RITES: Liberty, and will dangle from ceiling to floor to create an environment that the audience separates and moves through, to eventually meet the Liberty character.
The Roots Parties emphasize engaging people in a shared dialogue about how liberty is protected, promoted and accessed in their community and America at large. The Roots Parties started from a desire to understand why the United States Declaration of Independence guaranteed liberty as an inalienable right, and how America is living up to that guarantee. Previous conversations have included prison abolition, legalizing marijuana, water rights, financial literacy, and self-care as a liberating act.

The Roots Party culminates a series of community residencies that Weeks will be participating in around Providence, with the help of Valerie Tutson (Rhode Island Black Storytellers), the Haus of Glitter collective and local colleges.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 7:30pm: Air Stream
WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley St, Providence

A one-time-only ensemble of experts in the art of improvisational dance performance. Unbound to a traditional proscenium stage, using WaterFire Arts Center’s entire 15,000 square foot Main Hall, the dancers explore and enliven the space following both predetermined and spontaneous rules of engagement—as the audience is invited to follow along, literally and figuratively. Conceived by Lila Hurwitz and Andy Russ, with Rhode Island dance artists Shura Baryshnikov, Heidi Henderson, Cathy Nicoli and others TBA.

THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 7:30pm: Small Moves, Big Picture
WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley St, Providence

A spunky hybrid of live dance performances on a small 4'x4' stage juxtaposed with dance films on a big screen. Featuring performances from Shura Baryshnikov (RI), Olivier Besson (MA), Assitan Coulibaly (RI), Alexandra James (ME), Joshua Tuason (RI), and others TBA. With dance films from Kate Corby (WI), Tori Lawrence (MA), Annabella Lenzu (NY), Katie Beard and Naomi Turner (UK), and Esther Dganit Zimmerman (Tel Aviv).

FRIDAY & SATURDAY, MARCH 11 & 12, 7:30pm: 3 RITES: Liberty
a work in progress by DELIRIOUS Dances/Edisa Weeks
WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley St, Providence

"Liberty is an audacious solo, unlike anything else." —Susanna Sloat, Dance Tabs

Connected like a puppet to objects that have informed the Black experience in America (bible, black dick, blonde wig, watermelon, gun, lightbulb, sneakers), multi-media artist Edisa Weeks alternates between black face, white face, storytelling and visceral dance to dig into the pathologization of African-Americans and the foundations of Liberty in America. As our nation grapples with confederate monuments, the lynching of Black lives, fake news and economic stratification; 3 RITES: Liberty humorously and poignantly insists on a reckoning with our past and present.

The full work, 3 RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness, is a seven-hour interdisciplinary interactive experience that integrates dance, live music, text, visual installations, shared meals, and community conversations to examine how America has protected, promoted and pursued life, liberty and happiness, and how these rights manifest in the body. The full work will premiere at 651 ARTS in Brooklyn, NY in Fall 2023.

In addition to the performances, films and post-show parties each night, master classes with the artists will expand audiences’ understanding of contemporary movement-based performance.


Edisa Weeks (Brooklyn, NY) is a choreographer, educator, curator and founder of DELIRIOUS Dances. She creates multi-media interactive work that explores our deepest desires, darkest fears and sweetest dreams. Her work has been performed in a variety of venues including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum and Mount Tremper Arts; as well as in swimming pools, storefront windows, senior centers, sidewalks and living rooms. Weeks grew up in Uganda, Papua New Guinea and Brooklyn, NY, and has a BA from Brown University, and received a full fellowship to attend New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts where she obtained an MFA in choreography. She has had the joy of performing with Annie–B Parsons Big Dance Theater, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co., Dance Brazil, Homer Avila, Jane Comfort, Jon Kinzel, Muna Tseng, Reggie Wilson Fist & Heel Performance Group, Sally Silvers, Spencer/Colton Dance, among others. In addition, she danced in the 2016 "Bessie" award-winning performance by The Skeleton Architecture. She is on the Board of Directors for Movement Research, and is an Associate Professor of Dance and Acting Chair of the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance at Queens College. She teaches modern technique, improvisation, choreography, the collaborative process and mentors emerging artists.

Alexandra James (Portland, ME) is a Southern Maine native, maker, mover and mother. As an independent artist, she's engaged with improvisation and interdisciplinary investigation, the interrogation of pedagogy and craft, seeking liberation through the integrity of embodied knowledge and the sharing of practice. She is a professor of Dance at Bates and Colby Colleges, and the Director of Training Programs at Bates Dance Festival. Her work has been presented in Chicago, New York and South Africa, with a teaching practice that carries her nationally. She earned her BFA from the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago in 2009. 

Originally from Argentina, Annabella Lenzu (Brooklyn, NY) is a dancer, choreographer, writer, and teacher with over 30 years of experience working in Argentina, Chile, Italy, and the USA. She directs her own company, Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama, which since 2006 has presented 390 performances, created 14 choreographic works, and performed at 100 venues, presenting thought provoking and historically conscious dance-theater in NYC. As a choreographer, Lenzu has been commissioned all over the world for opera, TV programs, theatre productions, and by many dance companies. She has produced and directed several award-winning short dance films and screened her work in over 50 festivals both nationally and internationally, including London, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Lenzu has written for various dance and art magazines, and published her first book in 2013, Unveiling Motion and Emotion. Currently, Lenzu conducts classes at NYU Gallatin, School of Visual Arts, The Joffrey Ballet School, and Peridance Center.

Assitan “Sita” Coulibaly (Providence, RI) is a Malian-American dancer, choreographer, and writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. She began training in West African dance with New Works/World Traditions at Brown University with whom she has performed and traveled worldwide. Much of her choreographic work is greatly inspired by her Malian heritage and is highlighted by her fusion of Coupe Decalé, Afrobeats, traditional West African, and Hip Hop dance and music styles. Assitan is one of five founding members of The Haus of Glitter Dance Company, a member of New Works/ World Traditions Dance Company, a principal dancer with Troupe Yeredon in Mali, and was awarded the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts’ Folk Arts Fellowship (2021) for her work as a preserver of Traditional Mande Dance. In addition to her art, she is the acting Director of Legacy Arts & Education at Centre Yeredon in Bamako, Mali.

Cathy Nicoli (Tiverton, RI) is Associate Professor/Coordinator of Dance and Performance Studies at Roger Williams University. She is a Certified Movement Analyst and Bartenieff FundamentalsTM Practitioner, and trained to teach dance for Parkinson’s populations. Her choreography has earned two RISCA Choreography Fellowships, a RI Foundation Teaching Artist Scholarship, and has shown in venues internationally—from London’s National Theatre to Stockholm’s Ballet Academy; from a Ben Folds Five music video in the desert, to under a grand piano in the woods of Maine. Her screendance credits include Chris Lewis Smith’s (UK) To Be Watched While Eating an Orange, which received the Jury’s Selection Award at the 2018 Courant 3D Film Festival (FR). She earned her MFA on a full teaching scholarship from Smith College.

Esther Dganit Zimmerman (Tel Aviv, Israel) is a creator, choreographer and artistic director. She has danced for many Israeli companies and choreographed for stage and national Israeli TV.

Heidi Henderson (Wakefield, RI), choreographer for elephant JANE dance, a pick-up company in RI, is a four-time recipient of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Choreography Fellowship. elephant JANE dance has performed at the South Bank Centre in London, New York City, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Bates Dance Festival in Maine, Connecticut, Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out Festival and The International Festival of Dance in Taegu, Korea. Heidi has danced in the companies of Bebe Miller, Nina Wiener, Peter Schmitz and Paula Josa-Jones, and in works by Colleen Thomas, Sondra Loring and others.

Kate Corby (Madison, WI) is a contemporary dance artist and educator. She has shown her work extensively in the US and in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan and Hungary, where she traveled as a Fulbright fellow. Kate is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, serving as Dance Department Chair from 2017–2020. Her choreography has been called “ingenious” by the Chicago Reader, “jarringly beautiful” by the Isthmus, and was consistently a Critics’ Pick in Time Out Chicago. Kate was also featured in Dance Magazine as one of six choreographers “on the cusp of making waves in the larger dance world.” Corby’s screen dance work has been shown at the Wisconsin Film Festival, Triskelion Arts’ Dance Film Festival, Detroit Dance City Festival Dance Film Fest, Flatlands Dance Film Festival, Midwest RADFest, Tiny Dance Film Festival, Jacksonville Dance Film Festival, Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema, Opine Dance Film Festival, and Screen.dance (Scotland), which selected Corby's film Hungars Beach for an International Jury Special Mention Award in 2021.

Directing duo Katie Beard and Naomi Turner (UK) make up LeMoon; a performance and film collective based between Exeter and London. Katie and Naomi began making work together after graduating from the University of Exeter in 2015, where they both studied a degree in Drama. Initially creating multimedia and physical theatre work they realized their common interest in dance film and later went onto develop WAKE—their first short film venture. In 2019 they were commissioned to make their second short film Scapelands by BBC Arts and Arts Council England under the New Creatives scheme. Scapelands recently premiered on BBC4 as part of the Dance on Film: BBC Introducing Arts anthology and is choreographed by Liv Lockwood.

Lila Hurwitz (Providence) has been exploring dance improvisation in performance since 1983. She co-produced the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation for 18 years, and has danced with Nina Martin, Bebe Miller, Lucia Neare, Karen Nelson, Lisa Nelson, Stephanie Skura and many others. She taught Authentic Movement for a decade, designed Contact Quarterly magazine for 11 years, and was Associate Director of Artist Trust. She received a BA in Dance Choreography & Criticism from Hampshire College in 1987, and is a Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner. Lila received Seattle’s inaugural Dance Champion Award in 2011 for her advocacy work. She runs Doolittle+Bird, specializing in management, communications and grant-writing for the arts, and is a Motion State Arts co-producer.

Joshua Tuason (Providence) is a recent transplant from San Francisco via NYC. His dance artistry began in a public-school dance outreach program run through San Francisco Ballet. He later obtained a BFA in dance from Marymount Manhattan College and soon joined the Martha Graham Ensemble. Eight years as a member of the Stephen Petronio Dance Company and a freelance career led him to work with modern dance notables such as Yvonne Rainer, Mark Morris, Pam Tanowitz, and the Merce Cunningham Trust. He is currently on faculty at Boston Conservatory and Rhode Island College and is training to be certified in Alexander Technique.

Olivier Besson’s (Boston) work has been presented internationally at the National Institute of the Arts (Taiwan), Die Pratze (Japan), the Art of Movement Festival (Russia), Canaldanse (France), Companie Vertige (France), and LshVa (India). He has collaborated with many individuals in the US and abroad, including dance artists Chris Aiken, Cathy Young, Debra Bluth, Ming-Shen Ku, Toshiko Oiwa and Suzie Rzecznik, and musicians/composers Mike Vargas and Nate Tucker. Besson's introduction to improvisation came through his exposure to contact improvisation, which he studied with Robin Field and Andrew Harwood. He furthered his study of improvisation and real-time composition with Julyen Hamilton and subsequently started developing his own methodology. During that time, he also studied and performed Bugaku (court dance from Japan) with Arawana Hayashi. Other training includes Butoh with Maureen Fleming and Action Theater with Ruth Zaporah and Sarah Hickler. He joined the Boston Conservatory in 2004, where he is an associate professor of dance.

Shura Baryshnikov (Providence) is a multimodal artist who works broadly as a dancer/actor/improviser, somatic movement educator, director, and choreographer for projects across dance, theatre, opera, and film. She co-founded the Contact Improvisation research and performance ensemble Set Go and the acclaimed company Doppelgänger Dance Collective. Upcoming projects include release of a dance film directed for Boston Lyric Opera and collaborations with cellist/composer Adrienne Taylor as well as Daniel Bernard Roumain and FirstWorks. Shura is Head of Physical Theatre for the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Program in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University and maintains an active international teaching practice at festivals and training institutions. She employs work in the Viewpoints Technique, Safety Release Technique, Action Theater, and Contact Improvisation to create deeply-sensitized, collaborative spaces for learning and making. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Tori Lawrence (Northampton, MA) is a New England-based choreographer, filmmaker, and educator who creates site-specific multimedia performances and digital/analog dance films. Her environmentally-based work inspires an imaginative and sustainable way of looking at, thinking about, and using space. Her site-specific choreography has been presented nationally and internationally, including three commissions by the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, where she created Holding Place, an evening-length multimedia performance featuring acclaimed Brooklyn-based musicians Bing & Ruth. The work was created in response to the architecture of the Barnes’ new Philadelphia campus. Philadelphia Weekly describes her site-specific work as “poignant,” “stunning,” and “arresting.”

Produced by Motion State Arts: Ali Kenner Brodsky, David Henry, Lila Hurwitz and Andy Russ.

Motion State Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, celebrates contemporary movement-based performance by presenting art experiences that ignite and encourage transformation for both artists and audiences. We envision a community that values art's unique ability to shape our understanding of the world and the ways in which it inspires, provokes and engages our collective lives. 

Thanks to Providence Art, Culture + Tourism; Providence Tourism Council; WaterFire Arts Center; and many generous individual donors for their support.


[Photo: Edisa Weeks, Roots Party, Brooklyn, 2019, credit: Rebecca Fitton]


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