DraftWork: Wendell Gray II + Anna Sperber – Danspace Project
DraftWork: Wendell Gray II + Anna Sperber

Saturday, October 28, 2023 | 3pm
Join us after the performances for food & drinks and a conversation between the artists and DraftWork curator Ishmael Houston-Jones.
Danspace Project pays respect to Lenape peoples. We acknowledge that this work is situated on the Lenape island of Manhattan (Mannahatta) in Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland. We pay respect to Lenape land, water, and ancestors past, present and future.
Anna Sperber

Anna Sperber is a choreographer and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been described by The New York Times as “immediately compelling” and “wonderfully strange” with “moments of theatrical magic.” Sperber received a 2022 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” award for Outstanding Choreographer / Creator for Bow Echo. Her work has been presented and commissioned by The Kitchen, The Joyce Theater UNLEASHED, The Chocolate Factory, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Roulette, Gibney Dance, and Dance Theater Workshop in New York City, as well as by the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. Sperber has received fellowships and residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, Bogliasco Foundation, the Marble House Project, as a Schonberg Fellow at Dance The Yard, Center for Performance Research, Gibney Dance DiP (Dance in Process), Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Movement Research. Her interdisciplinary collaborations with esteemed experimental composers and live musicians as well as visual designers are crucial to the integration of visual and sonic landscapes with the moving body in her work. Sperber was a co-founder of classclassclass, designed to nurture new dance teachers while offering reduced class rates, and she has taught as a guest artist at American Dance Festival, Movement Research, Gibney Dance, Skewl, Hunter College, George Washington University, and Wayne State University. Sperber founded and ran BRAZIL, a studio and intimate performance space in Bushwick, Brooklyn from 2004 to 2014 and Sunset Space from 2019-2020.

Wendell Gray II
ports mouth (working title)

Earth, Wind, and Fire, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Object Agency, Space Afrika 

Wendell Gray II is a dance artist, choreographer, and educator currently based in Brooklyn, NY, situated on Lenapehoking land. Wendell’s artistic journey has led him to perform with a myriad of influential choreographers in contemporary, experimental, and concert dance. Those artists include Miguel Gutierrez, Pavel Zustiak, Tere O’Connor, Joanna Kotze, Jordan Demetrius Lloyd, Christal Brown, and Kevin Beasley, among many others. Wendell’s original choreographic works have been shown on many stages including Coffey Street Studios, Kinosaito Arts Center, Gibney, University of the Arts, Movement Research at Judson Church, Center for Performance Research, Chez Bushwick, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, and The Painted Bride. Wendell’s artistry has been recognized by residency programs, including Chez Bushwick in 2017, Work Up 6.0 at Gibney in 2020, STUFFED Artist in Residence at Judson Church in 2021, and Sightlines Dance Festival in 2023. His choreography has also extended to companies, including Michiyaya Dance, Pennsylvania Ballet II, Philadanco II, and Periapsis Music and Dance. Wendell is also currently an adjunct professor of Dance at Sarah Lawrence College for the 2023-2024 semester and additionally been a guest teacher at New York University, SUNY Purchase, University of the Arts and Dancewave among others. Wendell is an alumnus of the University of the Arts, where he graduated with a BFA in Dance in 2015 under the direction of Donna Faye Burchfield. Originally hailing from Atlanta, GA, his artistic journey has been enriched by a diverse range of influences. For more, visit wenings.com

Ishmael Houston-Jones (DraftWork curator) is an award winning choreographer, author, performer, teacher, and curator. His improvised dance and text work has been performed in New York, across the US, and in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Latin America. Drawn to collaborations as a way to move beyond boundaries and the known, Houston-Jones celebrates the political aspect of cooperation. Houston-Jones and Fred Holland shared a 1984 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Cowboys, Dreams and Ladders, which reintroduced the erased narrative of the Black cowboy back into the mythology of the American west. He was awarded his second “Bessie” Award for the 2010 revival of THEM, his 1985/86 collaboration with writer Dennis Cooper and composer Chris Cochrane. In 2017 he received a third “Bessie” for Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other Works by John Bernd. In 2020 he received a fourth "Bessie" for Service to the Field of Dance. Houston-Jones is the DraftWork curator for works-in-progress at Danspace Project in New York. He has curated Platform 2012: Parallels which focused on choreographers from the African diaspora and postmodernism and co-curated with Will Rawls Platform 2016: Lost & Found, Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now both at Danspace Project. As an author Houston-Jones' essays, fiction, interviews, and performance texts have been published in several anthologies and in numerous journals and magazines. His FAT and Other Stories: Some Writing About Sex was published in June 2018 by Yonkers International Press. Ishmael Houston-Jones sits on the Board of Directors of Movement Research and Performance Space New York and is a member of Middle Collegiate Church and Dias y Flores Community Garden. He has received awards from The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts and The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. In 2022 he received the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. Ishmael Houston-Jones received the 2019 Edwin Booth Award, given annually by the Doctoral Theatre Students’ Association of City University of New York which honors “an individual or organization that has had a significant impact on theatre and performance in New York.”
DraftWork is presented, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
Black and White logo with an outline of the state of New York: New York State of Opportunity, Trade Mark. Council on the Arts.
For more information on our funders, visit danspaceproject.org/support
Danspace Project presents new work in dance, supports a diverse range of choreographers in developing their work, encourages experimentation, and connects artists to audiences.

For over 45 years, Danspace Project has supported a vital community of contemporary dance artists in an environment unlike any other in the United States. Located in the historic St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, Danspace shares its facility with the Church, The Poetry Project, and New York Theatre Ballet. Danspace Project’s Commissioning Initiative has commissioned nearly 600 new works since its inception in 1994.



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