Untamed Space: What can Black creativity look like?
September 27, 2017
by Rosamond S. King (Untamed Space dramaturge)
edited by André M. Zachery
Untamed Space Description
In Untamed Space, Renegade Performance Group artistic director and choreographer André M. Zachery calls upon his familial lineage in the Southern United States and Haiti and his upbringing on the Southside of Chicago to construct an interdisciplinary performance about “marooning” in the 21st Century. (Historically, maroon colonies were liberated communities of Africans who escaped to hills, mountains, and forests after their arrival to the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries.) Untamed Space is an abstract consideration of the spiritual dimensions of maroon colonies and, in Zachery’s own words,“how the creation of those impassible spaces has influenced contemporary identities of African-blooded people in the Americas.”
This is Zachery’s latest addition to his AFROFUTURISM series, an ongoing artistic investigation exploring and reinterpreting Black signifiers and culture through technology from a contemporary perspective.
Untamed Space Geography
Untamed Space travels from Haiti, through Mississippi, through Chicago, into the Afrofuture.
Afrofuturism as a concept, genre, and aesthetic originates from a movement that has been used by many Black novelists, sound artists and filmmakers – but less often by choreographers. Zachery’s definition of Afrofuturism is any behavior by Black people that plans for them to continue to exist in the future. Maroons who ran away from slavery, African-Americans who were part of the Great Migration from the South to the North, and Black immigrants are all planning for an Afro-future.
Untamed Space Inspiration:
Untamed Space was deeply inspired by the work of visual artists Kerry James Marshall and John T. Biggers. Both painters of large canvases, Marshall and Biggers’ images focus on the beauty of the mundane details of African-American life. Like these inspirations, Zachery’s Untamed Space expresses the extraordinary in ordinary, everyday experiences such as struggle, joy, and migration.
Untamed Space Technique
Untamed Space builds on a number of dance styles, including contemporary modern technique, house and hip hop dance, and African-American stomping traditions. The piece also uses Zachery’s own Physical Propulsion technique, a powerful method in which the body engages space using floor, standing, and aerial techniques. When you see the dancers interacting with the floor, when you see them coiling their body like a spring – they’re using Physical Propulsion.
A note from the choreographer…
My inspiration to start the AFROFUTURISM Series in 2014 was to create a space where Blackness was unlimited. The project has allowed me to build relationships with a myriad of artists, scholars, thinkers, workers, hustlers, griots, elders and ancestors who have challenged me, opened me, changed me, and given me so much in an effort to make sure I am doing my best work. This evening length performance – Untamed Space, may be your first introduction to my work, the work of RPG, or work from the AFROFUTURISM series. Your engagement means so much to me, and our entire team of artists and creators. I ask that you allow yourself to consider what liberation truly feels like for yourself and how are you doing the work to ensure your loved one, neighbor, friend or stranger is liberated. Untamed Space is my consideration on the efforts of my family, my community, and my cultural lineage to ensure that myself, and others could be liberated even in the face of overwhelming oppression. Lastly, I ask that you come along with us in this performative journey that is unbound by time and give-in to your imagination and wonder on the work we have done and that which remains.
André M. Zachery/Renegade Performance Group’s Untamed Space premieres Thursday, September 28 through Saturday, September 30. Details and tickets here.