Introducing Research Fellows 2021-2022: devynn emory, Okwui Okpokwasili, Samita Sinha, and David Thomson
September 8, 2021
Since 2010, with the launch of Danspace’s Platform series, we have developed various programs for collaborative inquiry with guest artist-curators, choreographers, curatorial fellows, writers-in-residence, scholars, and artists across disciplines. In the spirit of collective research Danspace continues this fall with a group of 2021-2022 Artist Research Fellows: devynn emory, Okwui Okpokwasili, Samita Sinha, and David Thomson, who will provide feedback informing organizational change and curatorial development.
Over the next twelve months, these four prominent dance artists who have long term relationships with Danspace will be in dialogue with Executive Director and Chief Curator (Judy Hussie-Taylor), the Curatorial team (Seta Morton and Benjamin Akio Kimitch), the rest of the Danspace staff, institutional partners, and Board to look at the future of supporting artists at Danspace.
Together we will ask: “what does generational change look like and how might it inform the future of our field?”
devynn emory is a mixed Lenape/Blackfoot transgender choreographer, dance artist, bodyworker, ceremonial guide, acute care and hospice nurse currently working as a COVID-19 nurse in NYC. emory’s performance company devynnemory/beastproductions draws from their multiple in-between states of being, holding space for liminal bodies bridging multiple planes of transition. their formal dance training pulls on mathematical and mapped scores to support bodies decolonizing and bleeding human truths, opening peep holes and revelations for collective performers and audiences. they are currently working on a trilogy centering medical mannequins processing transitional mediumship. deadbird with it’s touring public altar can anyone help me hold this body is still on tour, Cindy Sessions and boiling-rain are to follow which are interactive storytelling projects with an elder mannequin holding a collection of grandmother wisdom. as a healer they have dual licenses in “western” and “eastern” bodywork and run a private practice sage-massage that offers end of life consultation, channeled counseling and hands on care modalities in conversation with thresholds. you can find their work atdevynnemory.com and their current project at www.deadbird.land
Okwui Okpokwasili is a Brooklyn based performing artist working at the intersection of theater, dance and installation. In partnership with collaborator Peter Born, Okpokwasili creates multidisciplinary projects. They include “Bessie” Award winning Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance, “Bessie” Award winning Bronx Gothic, Bronx Gothic: The Oval, Poor People’s TV Room, Poor People’s TV Room Solo, When I Return Who Will Receive Me, and Adaku’s Revolt. Recent works include an installation in the exhibition: “Grief and Grievance, Art and Mourning in America” at the New Museum, “On the way, undone” at the Highline in NYC, the Danspace Commissioned film“Returning”, and the site specific performance “Swallow the Moon” at Jacob’s Pillow. In the last few years, Okpokwasili has been working on Sitting On A Man’s Head a collaborative, improvisational sonic praxis with multiple artists inspired by the precolonial embodied protest practices of Southeastern Nigerian women called Sitting On A Man. The last iteration of this practice was an anchoring event in the Danspace Platform: Utterances from the Chorus, which she co-curated along with the team lead by Judy Hussie-Taylor at Danspace Project in NYC. As a performer, Okpokwasili frequently collaborates with award- winning director Ralph Lemon, including How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?; Come home Charley Patton (for which she also won a New York Performance “Bessie” Award); a duet performed at The Museum of Modern Art as part of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century; and Scaffold Room. Okpokwasili’s residencies and awards include The French American Cultural Exchange (2006-2007); Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Choreographic Fellowship (2012); Baryshnikov Arts Center Artist-in-Residence (2013); New York Live Arts Studio Series (2013); Under Construction at the Park Avenue Armory (2013); New York Foundation for the Arts’ Fellowship in Choreography (2013); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life Program (2014-17, 2019-20); ICPP at Wesleyan (2015), The Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ artist grant in dance (2014); BRIClab (2015); Columbia University (2015), and the Rauschenberg Residency (2015). Okpokwasili was the 2015-2017 Randjelovic/Stryker New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artist (RCA.) She was a 2018 Princeton University Hodder Fellow, a 2018 Herb Alpert Awardee in Dance, a 2018 Doris Duke Artist Awardee, and a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. She is currently a UNC Chapel Hill CPA fellow.
Artist and composer Samita Sinha creates multidisciplinary performance works that investigate origins of voice. She synthesizes Indian vocal traditions and embodied practices to create a decolonized, bodily, multivalent language of vibration and transformation. Sinha’s works have been commissioned and presented by Asia Society, Performance Space 122, Danspace, Rubin Museum, Queens Museum, and Gibney Dance, among others. Sinha teaches voice extensively.
David Thomson is a collaborative interdisciplinary artist whose history encompasses work with Remy Charlip, Bebe Miller, Trisha Brown(’87-’93), Grisha Coleman|Hot Mouth, Ralph Lemon, Sekou Sundiata, Tracie Morris, Meg Stuart, Marina Abramović, Yvonne Rainer, Deborah Hay, Alain Buffard, Maria Hassabi, Yanira Castro, Daria Faïn, Kaneza Schaal and Okwui Okpokwasili among many others. His current practice interrogates our unconscious narratives regarding presence/absence and identity, creating performance installations in a range of temporal forms from short works to durational tasks, that sabotage assumptions to provoke reimagining. Thomson has been awarded fellowships from United States Artists|Ford, NYFA in Choreography, MacDowell, Yaddo, and The Rauschenberg Foundation. He is currently a Mabou Mines Associate Artist and a LMCC Extended Life Fellow (2018-21). He’s received Bessies for Sustained Achievement (2001) and Outstanding Production (2018). In 2017, he initiated The Sustainability Project with Kate Watson-Wallace, which serves as a platform and practice that seeks to expand the discourse surrounding ideas of financial, artistic, and personal empowerment within the arts community. Thomson has served on the faculties of Movement Research, NYU/Experimental Theater Wing, Sarah Lawrence, The New School, Barnard, Bennington and Pratt as well as teaching internationally.