Participants 2016

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A. Nia Austin-Edwards is the founder of PURPOSE Productions – a company that supports artists and organizers in the manifestation of PURPOSE-full work that seeks to unify and develop our world community. She’s also an editor and contributor to The Dance Enthusiast and was a John R. Munger Research Fellow for Dance/USA. Her performing career began in her mother’s womb, developed in Atlanta, GA at Total Dance / Dancical Productions, Inc., and was further formalized through Tri-Cities Visual and Performing Arts Magnet High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Since her transition from Marketing & Communications Director at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, PURPOSE Productions has supported dance artists such as Adia Tamar Whitaker and Marjani Forte-Saunders, theater artists such as dear Ella Turenne and Latonia Phipps, organizations such as 651 ARTS and STooPS, initiatives such as Paloma McGregor’s Dancing While Black and Camille A. Brown’s The Gathering, among others.
Lori D. Barcliff Baptista directs the African-American Cultural Center and holds faculty appointments in The Honors College, the School of Theatre & Music, and the Museum and Exhibition Studies program at the University of Illinois-Chicago. An interdisciplinary scholar/artist, she uses participatory action research, exhibitions, and performance to explore how members of diasporic communities transmit social values and identify with multiple places and traditions through objects, images and expressive formats–especially food. She earned a Ph.D. in performance studies from Northwestern University, an M.A. in liberal studies from Rutgers University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California-Berkeley.
Moira Brennan is the Program Director for the Multi-Arts Production/MAP Fund. She studied theater at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Her writing about the arts and feminism has been published in the New York Times, Ms. Magazine, American Theatre,, among other publication.
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Dasha A. Chapman is currently Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University, working alongside Duke’s Haiti Lab, the Program in Women’s Studies, and Dance. She holds a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University, where she was awarded the Deena Burton Memorial Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research. Her book project, Dancing Haiti in the Break, examines the work of 5 Haitian dance-artists and the communities they create in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, New York City and Boston. She has published in The Black Scholar and is co-editing a special issue of Women&Performance: a journal of feminist theory on Queer Haitian Performance and Affiliation. As a dancer and performer she works in African diasporic techniques and improvisation, and collaborates with choreographers in New York, Haiti, and now Durham, NC.


Thomas F. DeFrantz is Professor and Chair of African and African American Studies at Duke University, and director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications. Books: Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (University of Wisconsin Press, 2002),  Dancing Revelations Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2004), Black Performance Theory, co-edited with Anita Gonzalez (Duke University Press, 2014), Choreography and Corporeality: Relay in Motion, co-edited with Philipa Rothfield (Palgrave, 2016). Creative: Queer Theory! An Academic Travesty commissioned by the Theater Offensive of Boston and the Flynn Center for the Arts, and Monk’s Mood: A Performance Meditation on the Life and Music of Thelonious Monk, performed in Botswana, France, South Africa, and New York City. He convenes the Black Performance Theory working group. In 2013, working with Takiyah Nur Amin, he founded the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance.

 Jane Gabriels, Ph.D. is the Artistic and General Director of Pepatián where she creates, curates, and supports multi-disciplinary performance by Latino and/or Bronx-based artists ( The South Bronx is artistic base for much of her curatorial, research, and performance work (Becoming a Boogie-Down Rican, She recently completed a Dance and Social Practice Incubator in the South Bronx (!dance–social-practice-incubator/c1g1e) and is a co-editor on the forthcoming book, Curating Live Arts: Global Perspectives, Envisioning Theory and Practice in Performance (

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Ebony Noelle Golden is the CEO and principal engagement strategist at Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC and the artistic director of Body Ecology Womanist Performance Project.  BDAC is a New York City-based cultural arts direct action group that works to inspire, instigate, and incite transformation, radical expressiveness, and progressive social change through community-designed, culturally-relevant, creative projects.  BDAC boasts a roster of cultural collaborators including: Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre, Angela’s Pulse, The National Performance/Visual Arts Network, SpiritHouse-NC, Alternate Roots, The Highlander Center for Research and Education, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, and The Laundromat Project. The Houston, TX native is also an accomplished performance artist, poet, director, and choreographer who stages site-specific rituals and live art performances that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now.  Ebony was recently awarded a Creative Collisions residency at Space on Ryder Farm.  She will use her time to continue researching and devising 125th and Freedom, slated for a summer 2017 debut.  In the face of large scale gentrification and environmental shifts in Harlem USA, 125th and Freedom is a collaborative and choreographic meditation on home, remembering, and displacement. 125th and Freedom re-imagines this cultural and political corridor as Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad by activating a public(s) engagement project as well as a durational, processional, river-to-river, performance installation with an intergenerational ensemble of artists, educators and activists invested in the legacy and future of a People’s Harlem.    Ebony earned a Master of Arts degree in Performance Studies from New York University, a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from American University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from Texas A & M University.

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Aaron Greenwald has been the Executive Director of Duke Performances since 2006. The organization has a 2.2 million dollar budget and serves upwards of 35,000 patrons annually — roughly 8,500 of whom are Duke students. Duke Performances has commissioned, developed, and premiered major new work from composers Steve Reich, John Luther Adams and Jason Moran; choreographers/dance companies Shen Wei Dance Arts, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Urban Bush Women, and Donald Byrd Spectrum Dance Company; and musicians Bon Iver, Simone Dinnerstein, Branford Marsalis, and The Bad Plus amongst others. In addition to commissioning and developing new work, Duke Performances maintains an annual schedule of roughly 80 performances — these shows are staged in a network of more than a dozen venues both on campus and in town — and span every conceivable genre. The majority of these presentations include an artist-in-residency component that engages both Duke’s campus and the broader Durham community.

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Tempestt Hazel is a curator, writer, artist advocate and founding editor of Sixty Inches From Center, a Chicago-based archiving initiative. Her curatorial practice often uses collections and deep collaborations as a starting point to draw connections between a variety of histories and the work of contemporary artists. Her exhibitions have been produced by the University of North Texas, University of Chicago, Black Metropolis Research Consortium and others. Hazel’s writing is published in the Support Networks: Chicago Social Practice History SeriesContact Sheet: Light Work AnnualUnfurling: Explorations In Art, Activism and Archiving, and various monographs of artists, exhibition catalogues, and other publications.


Ishmael Houston-Jones is a choreographer, author, performer, teacher, and curator. His improvised dance and text work has been performed in New York City, across the US, and in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Latin America. Houston-Jones and Fred Holland shared a Bessie Award for their piece Cowboys, Dreams and Ladders. He also revived THEM, his 1985 collaboration with writer Dennis Cooper and composer Chris Cochrane for which he was awarded his second Bessie Award. He has curated Platform 2012: Parallels and Platform 2016: Lost and Found, both at Danspace Project. He is a recipient of the 2016 Herb Alpert and a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Awards.


Rasu Jilani is an independent curator, cultural producer and social sculptor, which allows him the privilege to investigate the intersections between art, culture and civic engagement as a method of raising critical consciousness. The main objective of his work is to catalyze interaction between artists, cultural institutions, the local community and the wider public, in order to promote cultural awareness and artistic literacy to diverse communities through exhibitions, public programs, community dialogues and festivals. Milani recently joined the NEW INC staff as Consulting Director of Cultural Diversity and Strategic Partnerships for the creative incubator at New Museum. From 2013 through 2016, Jilani worked at MAPP International Productions as the Director of Community Programs. Prior to Joining MAPP, he served two years as the Senior Fellow of Arts, Culture and Sustainability at the Pratt Center for Community Development at Pratt Institute. Milani is also co-founder of the art and socially responsible brant, Coup d’etat Brooklyn. Rasu recently co-facilitated a mass incarceration course at New School, Spring 2016.

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Joseph Jordan has been Director of the Sonja H. Stone Center for Black Culture and History since 2001. He is also Adjunct Associate Professor, African/African-American Studies, an affiliate faculty member in the curriculum in Global Studies, and Director of the Venezuela Aspects of the African Diaspora Study Abroad Project. His current work focuses on the cultural politics of race, identity and artistic production in the diaspora. He currently serves as a Board member of the National Council for Black Studies as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of The Black Scholar Journal of Black Studies and Research; as a member of the Editorial Board of PALARA – Publication of the Afro-Latin American Research Association; and as co-chair of TransAfrica Forum’s Scholar’s Council. He is a founding member of the Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network, and a member of the coordinating team of the Future of Minority Studies Research Project.


Mario LaMothe is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois – Chicago’s African-American Cultural Center. He was a Postdoctoral Associate in Interdisciplinary Sexuality Studies at Duke University’s Women’s Studies Program, and received a doctorate in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. Mario’s research interests focus on theories of Caribbean performance traditions and African diaspora health cultures. His book project, Giving Bodies: Dance, Memory, and Imagined Identities in Haiti, investigates what is at stake when performing and visual artists reframe Haiti’s embodied traditions to devise new images that counter internal and foreign negative representations of Haitians. Mario is also a performing artist, arts producer, curator, and LGBTQI activist.

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Paloma McGregor is a choreographer, writer and organizer. She lives in Harlem. She has structured improvisation for a floating platform in the Bronx River and choreographed Afro-futuristic pop opera at The Kitchen. She is director of Angela’s Pulse which creates and produces collaborative performance work dedicated to building community and illuminating bold new stories. She was an AIR at NYU’s Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics from 2013-15, where she developed an initative entitled Dancing While Black as well as her iterative performance project “Building a Better Fishtrap,” which in 2016 received support from MAP fund.  She is first generation American from the Caribbean who has lived all over the U.S. She was originally a newspaper journalist who left a thriving career for the uncertainty of dance! She performed with Urban Bush Women for six years. Paloma is the recipient of a generous grant from the Surdna Foundation’s “Artists Engaging in Social Change Initiative” that will provide her with funding that expands the DANCING WHILE BLACK platform. It will build access and exploration for Black experimental dance in order to expand a community, develop agency and shift both the artistic and cultural landscapes. Several components of this initiative took place at BAX (Brooklyn Artists Exchange).

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Craig T. Peterson is currently the Director of Programs and Presentation at Gibney Dance, a multi-faceted center for dance development, training and presentation in New York City. For ten years he served on the staff at Dance Theater Workshop (DTW, now known as New York Live Arts), one of America’s preeminent contemporary performing arts institutions based in NYC. For four years he served as the organization’s Co-Artistic Director, responsible for developing, implementing and producing a platform of programs designed specifically to support, serve and present the work of local, national and international performing artists. After moving to Philadelphia in 2009, Peterson launched and directed the Live Arts Brewery (LAB), a research and development program meant to support integrated, long term residencies and engagement activities for local and national artists as part of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival (now known at FringeArts). For three years he was the Director and Producer of the annual Philly Fringe Festival, a three-week city-wide festival featuring the work of more than 200 performing artists and companies with the explicit mission to activate communities around artistic practice, presentation and creative place-making. He has served on numerous panels for inter/national arts funding institutions, consulted with various arts and social service organizations as a program site assessor and lecturer, and has traveled extensively nationally and internationally to identify emerging talent and connect with artists and arts organizations worldwide.


Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor (Ben Pryor) is an independent curator and producer operating under the moniker tbspMGMT. He has produced and toured contemporary performance works by Miguel Gutierrez, Trajal Harrell, Ishmael Houston-Jones/Dennis Cooper/Chris Cochrane, Yvonne Meier, Wally Cardona/Jennifer Lacey/Jonathan Bepler and Deborah Hay throughout the US and internationally. In 2010 Pryor created American Realness, an annual festival of contemporary performance at Abrons Arts Center in New York City. The program has been cited as “New York’s preeminent sampler of boundary-pushing performance bordering on dance” by the New Yorker and was featured as #1 in ArtForum’s Best of Dance 2010.

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Risa Shoup is an Independent Curator and Development Consultant.  She works with a variety artspaces in New York City. Currently she is the Executive Director of Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc). Previously, she worked at The Invisible Dog Arts Center as served as the Residency Manager of the BRIC House Fireworks Residency Program, a collaborative artists’ residency at BRIC Arts|Media|Bklyn. Recently, she co-curated The Bricoleurs at the BRIC Rotunda Gallery with Christian Fuller, BRIC’s Associate Director of Contemporary Art. Shoup also serves as a development consultant for The Wassaic Project, where she co-curated an exhibition of environmental installations with curator, Ryan Frank, this past summer. As the Programming Director for Recession Art, Shoup produces events in all disciplines at RAC, Recession Art’s new permanent location on the Lower East Side. She will also curate two exhibitions there in 2012.  Shoup has spoken about nontraditional artspaces at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, NYU, the CUNY Graduate Center, and at Harvard University.

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Marýa Wethers is a Dancer and Independent Manager, Producer & Curator based in NYC since 1997. Marýa is currently the Director of International Initiatives at Movement Research and Project Manager for Angela’s Pulse/Dancing While Black, David Thomson, and Olivier Tarpaga. From 2007-2014, she worked in the Programming Department at New York Live Arts (formerly Dance Theater Workshop/DTW) as the International Project Director of the Suitcase Fund program, where she developed a cultural exchange program with contemporary dance artists in the USA and Africa, and managed the program activities in Eastern/Central Europe. Marýa curated the Out of Space @ BRIC Studio series for Danspace Project from 2003-2007 with a particular focus on work representing the perspectives and experiences of artists who are of color, queer, and/or female. She has served on selection panels for several presenting and funding organizations in NY and nationally, and her writing, UnCHARTed Legacies: women of color in post-modern dance, was published in the 25th Anniversary Movement Research Performance Journal #27/28 (2004). Marýa is a recipient of a National Performance Network Mentorship & Leadership award and two APAP Cultural Exchange Fund grants to support research and planning trips to Tanzania & Kenya and Bulgaria. As a dancer, she has worked with luciana achugar, Deborah Hay, Daria Faïn, Faye Driscoll and Yanira Castro. Her own work has been supported by The Chocolate Factory, Danspace Project, Movement Research, BAAD, The Yard, and Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA).


Tara Aisha Willis is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies, NYU. She is Movement Research’s Coordinator of Diversity Initiatives, co-curator of the Movement Research Festival Spring 2016, and will program their Studies Project series beginning in 2017. She has edited for TDR and Women & Performance, and co-edited with Thomas F. DeFrantz a black dance studies issue of The Black Scholar. Her writing appears in Movement Research Performance JournalThe Brooklyn RailWomen & Performance, TDR, and Magazin im August (pending). She recently danced for Kim Brandt, Megan Byrne, Sarah A.O. Rosner, and Anna Sperber. A Chez Bushwick artist-in-residence, Tara’s choreography has been shown at Movement Research at Judson Church, BAX, Roulette, THROW, Dixon Place, The Painting Center, AUNTS, and Wild Project (pending).

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Andrea E. Woods Valdés is an Associate Professor at Duke University teaching modern dance and dance for the camera. She has directed Duke In Ghana summer study (2012-2014). SOULOWORKS/Andrea E. Woods & Dancers recently celebrated 20 years of dancing and dancemaking.   Previous resident of Brooklyn, NY, and native of Philadelphia, Woods has danced with Clive Thompson, Mafata, Saeko Ichinohe and Leni Wylliams dance companies. She is a former dancer/rehearsal director of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co. and has a BFA from Adelphi University, an MFA in dance from Ohio State and an MAH in Caribbean Cultural Studies from SUNY Buffalo. She has been a staff writer for Attitude: The Dancers’ Magazine. Her work has taken her to:  Cannes, Taiwan, Russia, Senegal, Morocco, Korea, Poland, Singapore, Belize, Yucatán, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic, Ghana, Trinidad, Barbados,  Cuba and throughout the US. She has been a  guest artist at:  Medgar Evers College, Howard University, Ohio University, Rhode Island College, California State University Long Beach, North Carolina School of the Arts, Hollins University, Sarah Lawrence, Goucher College, NYU Tisch School of the Arts (faculty), Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Spelman College. She has received grants from: The Jerome Foundation, (NEFA) The National Dance Project, National Performance Network and Arts International and is a recipient of the NC Arts Council Artist Fellowship. Woods uses dance as contemporary folklore with a creative process strongly linked to identity and representation. Her areas of interest include women in the arts, Afro-Cuban dance/music, African Diaspora history/culture and Dance for the Camera. Her research interest is in  exploring the intra-cultural, interdisciplinary dialogues and activities that happen between Black women artists beyond the boundaries of nation and politics.

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DeeArah Wright is an artist, educator, creative strategist, and community engagement specialist.  She earned a BA from University of Maryland at College Park in Cultural Anthropology and Literature of the African Diaspora. She completed graduate coursework in Dance and Community Development through NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study. In 2010, she founded Gather Brooklyn, a company which has powered engagement through consultation, partnerships, and programming.  In 2014, she was the Community Liaison for Creative Time and Weeksville Heritage Center’s Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn.  DeeArah is currently the Co-Director of JACK—an Obie-winning performance venue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn with social justice and radical access to the arts at the hub of its mission.  She continues to support artists’ development through organizations such as The Laundromat Project and The Field. As a writer, DeeArah’s works-in-progress include a children’s book for all ages and a creative nonfiction project exploring connection and community.