Created By Ni’Ja Whitson
Performed by Ni’Ja Whitson and Kirsten Flores-Davis of The NWA Project
Friday-Saturday, May 6-7, 2016 @ 8:00 pm
Tickets: $16 General, $10 Low Income [HERE]
Music edits by Ni’Ja Whitson:
Billie Holiday Loverman (Where Can You Be?)
Masters at Work The Ha Dance
Marlon T. Riggs Tongues Untied (excerpt)
Kendrick Lamar u
Text transcribed and composed by Ni’Ja Whitson
Video: Tongues Untied, Marlon T. Riggs, director
Special Thanks: Marlon T. Riggs and Essex Hemphill. The Tongues Untied political and creative community including those whom with me personally shared their stories and space, Kirsten, my NWA Project ace, Jonathan and Christina, Leili Huzaibah, all of the performers who have been a part of this project’s development, Marya Warshaw, my fellow AIRs, and the amazing BAX staff, and Signifyin’ Works for their support of this work and commitment to Riggs’ legacy.
Additional Credits/Notes: The project was made possible, in part, through the Movement Research Artist-in-Residence Program, funded, in part, by the Jerome Foundation and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
A Meditation on Tongues is a live adaptation of Marlon T. Riggs’ iconic documentary film, Tongues Untied. Part abstract, part performance ritual, part live and historical document, this rigorously layered interdisciplinary project (re)images Black and Queer masculinities. It struts. It snaps. It frames new questions about loss at the height of the AIDS pandemic, while challenging constructions of love of/as revolution.
Developed for BAX, this presentation experiments with a deconstruction of Riggs’ collectivist aesthetics into a raw invocation that shape shifts gender, sexuality, and the body. Conceived and directed by Ni’Ja Whitson and performed by Whitson and Kirsten Flores-Davis of The NWA Project, A Meditation on Tongues (BAX Meditation 1) remixes historic and embodied invisibilities, spilling between the spaces of mourning and celebration.
An award-winning interdisciplinary artist, performer and educator, Ni’Ja Whitson, has been referred to as “majestic” and “powerful” by the New York Times. Recent awards include an LMCC Process Space Residency, Bogliasco Fellowship, Brooklyn Arts Exchange Artist Residency, two-time Creative Capital “On Our Radar” award including being among its inaugural group, among dozens of other residencies and awards across disciplines.
Whitson has been a student and practitioner of indigenous African ritual and resistance forms for over ten years, creating work that reflects the sacred in street, conceptual, and indigenous performance. They engage a nexus of postmodern and African Diasporic performance practices, through the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and spirit. Working internationally, creative and scholarly works include collaborations and performances for leading artists interdisciplinarily such as Allison Knowles, La Pocha Nostra, April Berry, Darrell Jones, Merián Soto, Marjani Forté, and Baba Israel. As a noted innovating practitioner of the Theatrical Jazz Aesthetic and accomplished improviser Whitson enjoys ongoing collaboration with award-winning artist Sharon Bridgforth. Additionally, Whitson is a member of Douglas Ewart’s (AACM) interdisciplinary performance ensembles touring notable venues across the country with leading creative and jazz musicians such as Mankwe Ndosi, Tatsu Aoki, Oliver Lake, and Joseph Jarmon. Whitson’s work as an independent choreographer includes working alongside Dianne McIntyre on the 10-year anniversary revival of Crowns written and directed by Regina Taylor at the Goodman Theatre, as choreographer for Nia Witherspoon’s Messiah Complex and Susan Watson-Turner’s directing of Anon(ymous) both of which received New York audience and ensemble awards. Recent Commissions and residencies include Harlem Stage, Gibney Dance, St. Marks Danspace, Dancing in the Streets, and residencies with the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance and Movement Research.
Other recognitions and awards include Time Out New York and Chicago Critic’s Picks, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Outstanding Ensemble Award, Downtown Urban Theatre Festival Audience Award, Vermont Studio Center Writing Residency, LinkUp Inaugural Artist in Residence, Chicago DanceBridge Residency, John G. Curtis Jr. Prize, Archibald Motley Grant, 3Arts Visual Artist Award Nomination, and a MFA Fellowship Award from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where they received an MFA.
Visit nija.upshawhosting.com to learn more about their work.
Kirsten Flores-Davis earned their BA in Dance from Hunter College while performing with the National Liturgical Dance Network in Bridgetown, Barbados and Canberra, Australia. Davis began choreographing individually and in collaboration around New York City producing works such as I Need Your Attention at the South Orange Performing Arts Center and The Distance Between Them at the Danny Kaye Playhouse. Combining a love for dance and theater, Davis joined the cast of the Messiah Project at HERE! Arts Center and Boogieman: Diary of a Broken Home, of the Thespis Theatre festival. Davis has spent the last two years as a company member of the NWA Project under the direction of company founder, Ni’Ja Whitson.
Christina James (featured May 6th) better known as coco motion is a freelance dancer/performer based in NYC. Currently works as a teaching artist at Girls Inc NYC in east Harlem. Coco also travels nationally and internationally in various dance battles around the world.
Jonathan Gonzalez (featured May 7th) is a multidisciplinary artist working through performance, sound design/composition, writing and visual practices. He is a Diebold Award recipient in Choreography & Performance, Dancing While Black Fellow (2015-16), POSSE scholar, New York Live Arts Fresh Tracks artist (2015-16), and choreographer with The Possibility Project. He has worked with Ligia Lewis, Patricia Hoffbauer, Grisha Coleman, Phillip Howze, Jaamil Olwale Kosoko, Tony Thatcher, Gwen Welliver, among others. His work has been presented at Danspace Project’s Food for Thought, BAAD!, Socrates Sculpture Park, Project Reach, MaketheRoadNY, Dancewave, Loisaida Center, DanceNOW/DTW, JACK, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Wimbledon College of Art, Trinity and Bennington College. He is an MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence.