2019 BAX Awards bios


ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity) is a multi-racial, intergenerational group of artists and cultural workers committed to organizing for racial equity in the influential realms of arts and culture. Creating in multiple genres and at various stages of growth in our artistic fields, we are artists and community organizers united by the foundational anti-racist, humanistic community organizing principles of The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. In our current work which is based in the northeast United States, we are focused on six primary areas: racial equity in arts education, in arts funding, in arts coverage in media, in curation, in casting, and in space availability/allocation.

ACRE was co-founded in 2014 by three Black artists: Sarita Covington, Maria Bauman-Morales, and Nathan Trice. The group has helped over two hundred NY-based artists and arts advocates gain Understanding & Undoing Racism training with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, has developed an ACRE Platform for Racial Equity in the Arts, has supported both individual artists and arts organizations in bringing an anti-racist lens to their programs and procedures through ACRE Platform Workshops and coaching, and continues to convene monthly fellowship and strategizing sessions to strengthen the work of artists eradicating racism from our fields.

Maria Bauman-Morales is a Brooklyn, NY-based multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer from Jacksonville, FL. She is a co-founder of ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity) along with Nathan Trice and Sarita Covington. As a cultural organizer, Bauman-Morales has partnered with various kinds of groups to lift up important social issues and calls for justice via art. She has been keynote speaker and core facilitator for the 2018 Day of Learning on Equity & Inclusion, Camille A. Brown’s 2016 Black Girl Spectrum Convening, several Cultural Organizing for Community Change symposiums, and for NOCD-NY’s From the Neighborhood Up Roundtable. Organizing to undo racism informs her artistic work and the two areas are each ropes in a Double-dutch that is her holistic practice. She creates bold and honest artworks for her company MBDance ( www.mbdance.net ), based on physical and emotional power, insistence on equity, and fascination with intimacy. In particular, Bauman-Morales’s dance work centers the non-linear and linear stories and bodies of queer people of color onstage. Bauman-Morales was recently recognized with a Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance with Skeleton Architecture. Currently, she is an Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellowship Candidate and an Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange. She just finished her tenure as Community Action Artist in Residence at Gibney Dance.

Sarita Covington is a multi-disciplinary artist/ activist from Harlem. She holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and is co-founder of Company Cypher, a hip-hop theatre arts organization. She co-founded ACRE (Artists Co-Creating Real Equity), an organizing body that works closely with grassroots community organizers the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. She is a collaborating artist with social impact organization B3W Performance Group. Her work has received support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Open Meadows Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, SPARC (Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide) and BAX (Brooklyn Arts Exchange). She has served on the Advisory Council for The Field Leadership Fund and supported and coached Race Forward’s Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab. Sarita has taught and facilitated workshops among a variety of communities including the inmates at the Fishkill Correctional Facility and Yale. She is currently a resident artist with Su-Casa in the Bronx. This year her play Things Went Horribly Wrong will be produced in Rochester, NY in collaboration with the Avenue Black Box Theatre. She will also be performing in Keen Co.’s production of Surely, Goodness, and Mercy by Chisa Hutchinson in New York City this spring.

Nathan Trice is the Artistic Director/Founder of nathantrice/RITUALS, a project-by-project theatrical dance company based in Brooklyn NY. Originally from Detroit, MI, Trice began his training in 1988 under the direction of Aulani Chun in San Diego, CA at Mesa College. While training, he simultaneously completed his remaining two years of a four-and-a-half year contract with the U.S. Navy. Upon completion of his Naval contract, he was accepted into the Alvin Ailey Certificate Program in 1991. Since completing the program in 1993, Trice spent the following six years as a featured artist with MOMIX, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater, Kevin Iega Jeff, Donald Byrd/The Group and Forces of Nature Dance Company. During that period, Trice developed and began presenting his own choreographic work while simultaneously establishing his teaching philosophy, style, and technique.


The Laundromat Project is a POC-centered organization that advances artists and neighbors as change agents in their own communities — through artist residencies, fellowships, and a creative community hub in the South Bronx. We envision a world in which artists and neighbors in communities of color work together to unleash the power of creativity to transform lives. We make sustained investments in growing a community of multiracial, multigenerational, and multidisciplinary artists and neighbors committed to societal change by supporting their artmaking, community building, and leadership development.

The LP is striving to build a resilient institution for artists and communities of color and those who care about how creativity can change the world for the better. Over the past 14 years, The LP has directly invested nearly $850,000 in over 150+ artists, 67 innovative public art projects, 3 diverse anchor neighbors, and 1 creative community hub while engaging over 38,000 New Yorkers.

The LP recently completed a visionary strategic plan that will take us through 2022. During this period, we will help shape and grow a POC-centered movement of artists and neighbors whose experiences with The LP give them the knowledge, tools, and networks to use their own creativity to facilitate ideas and actions that lead to positive change in their lives and that of their communities. We are committed to supporting their artmaking, community building, and leadership development in order to build a thriving ecosystem of creative change agents for generations to come.


Irondale is not an institution, but a theatre of people …. many of whom have been with since the beginning thirty-five years ago and have devoted their lives to this very unique company. We exist to make important, challenging, demanding and above all entertaining theatre. The hub of Irondale is our home in Ft Greene Brooklyn, build from the ruins of a one hundred and sixty-year-old derelict church space which we have transformed into a fully equipped, modern theatre. Here we make our productions, engage with the various communities of New York City, reach out to the extended community of international theatre-makers and pass on the torch through learning programs conceived to insure that this very important venture becomes as important to the next generation of artists and artistic audiences and collaborators as it is to us. Since 1983, Irondale has created 84 off-Broadway productions. established an ongoing workshop to build better relationships between members of the community and officers of the NYPD, and reached out to more than 30,000 students, teachers and members of the New York City community.

Jim Niesen is the Artistic Director of Brooklyn’s Irondale Ensemble Project, founded with Terry Greiss and Barbara MacKenzie-Wood in 1983. For Irondale, known for its innovative productions of classic texts and commitment to large scale community and educational works, he has directed or written more than 80 plays (including the epic Shakespeare marathon 1599-Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet – all performed in a single evening and Brecht in Exile featuring the plays he wrote after fleeing Germany in 1933 (Galileo, Good Person of Setzuan and Mother Courage). In 2014 Brooklyn Magazine named him one of the “100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture.” In 2018 he was named a distinguished alumnus of Ohio University where he serves on the OU College of Fine Arts Leadership Council.


Letter of Marque (pronounced “mark”) spreads ensemble culture through financially accessible, socially responsive, and inclusive theater, training, and events. Since 2013, LoM’s work has built a diverse and multi-disciplinary community of artists and art-lovers alike in Brooklyn and around the world. LoM was founded by Scarlet Maressa Rivera, Nolan Kennedy, Welland H. Scripps. It is helmed by Co-Artistic Directors –or Captains as they prefer to be addressed– Scarlet and Nolan. Scarlet is an actor, director, musician, teaching artist, and self-proclaimed “ambassador of ensemble.” She is a graduate of Brooklyn College’s Performance and Interactive Media Arts program. Nolan is an actor, musician, playwright, lighting designer, and teaching artist. Nolan is also one the 5 certified Soundpainters in the United States, a sign language used for live composition. Both Scarlet and Nolan are alums of the Irondale Ensemble Project where they helped stage many shows, most notably “Color Between the Lines” and “Peter Pan.”


Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Senior Curatorial Director of Gibney, won the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance as a veteran writer, curator and community educator. Since 1976, she has contributed to Dance Magazine, The Village Voice, SoHo Weekly News, Gay City News, The Dance Enthusiast, Time Out New York and other publications. She blogs on the arts, with dance as a specialty, for InfiniteBody.

Curating for Danspace Project’s Platform 2016: Lost and Found, she created the skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds, an evening of group improvisation featuring 21 Black women and gender-nonconforming performers. Her cast won a 2017 Bessie for Outstanding Performer.

She has created and hosted Long Table conversations for the dance/performance community for GIBNEY, Abrons Arts Center, Dance/NYC, BAX and Dancing While Black. She served on the inaugural faculty of Montclair State University’s MFA in Dance program. She has also served as faculty for New England Foundation for the Arts’ Regional Dance Development Initiative Dance Lab 2016 for emerging Chicago dance artists. In 2017, she served as faculty for Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography’s inaugural Forward Dialogues Dance Lab for Emerging Choreographers and returns in 2019 as a workshop facilitator.


Dancing While Black is an artist-led initiative that supports the diverse work of Black dance artists by cultivating platforms for process, performance, dialogue, and documentation. We bring the voices of black dance artists from the periphery to the center, providing opportunities to self-determine the languages and lenses that define their work. Since 2012, DWB has produced the work of more than a dozen Black dance makers, supported 22 Fellowship artists in the developing their practice and networks, and gathered scholars, writers, and artists to participate in diverse platforms that center their voices and build community. Dancing While Black operates at the intersection of aesthetics and organizing. Central to the work is building partnerships – with presenters, organizers, curators, and artists. Over the past five years, Dancing While Black has established ongoing partnerships with BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, NYU’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, PURPOSE Productions, Urban Bush Women and Junebug Productions. Our partnerships are rooted in a mutual commitment to equity and serving the needs and visions of artists. In a field that encourages individualism, our work prioritizes community building. We celebrate that there is a momentum building around shifting the dance landscape, and we are committed to help shepherd these efforts. Our commitment to equity requires our solidarity with others who are also doing the work.

Artistic Director Paloma McGregor is a Caribbean-born, New York-based choreographer and organizer who has spent her career centering Black voices through collaborative, process-based projects. Since 2008, she has been Artistic Director of Angela’s Pulse, which she co-founded with her sister, director Patricia McGregor. Paloma has received support for her work from Surdna Foundation; MAP Fund; Dance/USA; Dance/NYC; NYSCA; Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Grant; and Jerome Travel & Study Grant. She was a BAX AIR from 2014-16, and launched her Dancing While Black Fellowship at BAX during that time. She was an inaugural Urban Bush Women Choreographic Fellow (2018) and is currently an Artist in Residence at Movement Research. Past artist residencies include: New York Live Arts Live Feed (2016-18); LMCC (2014); NYU’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (2013-14); and iLAND/iLAB (2012). Paloma toured internationally for six years as a dancer with Brooklyn-based Urban Bush Women and is currently collaborating on projects with Liz Lerman, Ni’Ja Whitson (BAX AIR 2015-17) and skeleton architecture, with whom she won a 2017 Bessie Award for performance.


First Amendment Sanctuary Spaces (FASS) is a network of arts and cultural spaces dedicated to the preservation, practice, and legacy of upholding and supporting all the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The BAX Awards Ceremony will be presented by representatives from Danspace Project, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, New York Live Arts, New York Theatre Workshop, and Topaz Arts.

For more information on this network and a complete list of participants, visit facebook.com/FirstAmendmentSanctuarySpaces.


Mariana Valencia is a dance artist based in Brooklyn, New York where she has held residencies at Chez Bushwick, New York Live Arts Studio Series, ISSUE Project Room, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and Gibney Dance Center. Nationally, she’s held residencies at Show Box LA and Pieter Pasd in Los Angeles, at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Oregon and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Her work has been presented by Danspace Project, Roulette, the Center for Performance Research, The New Museum, The Women and Performance Journal, Ugly Duckling Presse and AUNTS as well as internationally in Serbia and Macedonia. As a performer, Valencia has worked with Lydia Okrent, Jules Gimbrone, Elizabeth Orr, Kate Brandt, AK Burns, Em Rooney, robbinschilds, Kim Brandt, Fia Backstrom, and MPA. Valencia is a Bessie Award recipient for Outstanding Breakout Choreographer, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award to Artists grant recipient, a Jerome Travel and Study Grant fellow, a Yellow House Fund of the Tides Foundation grant recipient and a Movement Research GPS/Global Practice Sharing artist. Valencia holds a BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA with a concentration in dance and ethnography.

ONLIEST (Tiffany James and Ganessa James)

Twins Tiffany and Ganessa James have been singing since the very beginning. A longtime fascination with vocal harmony led them to a cappella groups in high school and college. They eventually began to take up instruments and to blend in the hip-hop ethos of freestyle: creating impromptu vocal harmonies in performance, weaving their voices together in exuberant improvised explorations. Their band Onliest is the product of a passionate love for music with multi-genre influences including rock, soul, salsa, soca, and R&B – reflecting the twins Central American and Caribbean heritage and New York City upbringing. Singing in English, or Spanish, wielding their guitars or conjuring freestyle harmonies, Onliest is a spark of joyful musical energy. No two shows are ever quite the same – it’s important to the twins that each show be as true to the moment as possible. Their performance fascinates as it inevitably includes a glimpse into the delights and complexities of a relationship that spans a lifetime. Tiffany and Ganessa James bring a disarming joy to the stage as Onliest. Find out more online at facebook.com/onliestmusic.


Maria Bauman-Morales by Thomas Dunn
Sarita Covington (courtesy of the artist)
Nathan Trice (courtesy of the artist)
The Laundromat Project’s Field Day Festival: Harlem, 2015. The Laundry Room (116th St. & Lenox Avenue), by Ray Llanos; Courtesy of The Laundromat Project
Jim Niesen (courtesy of the artist)
Letter of Marque (courtesy of the artist)
Eva Yaa Asentewaa by Scott Shaw
Paloma McGregor by Melisa Cardona
First Amendment Sanctuary Spaces by Fernando Maneca
Mariana Valencia by Vharlotte Curtis
ONLIEST by Tanya Williams
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