DANSPACE PROJECT PRESENTS Leslie Parker Dance Project Divination Tools: imagine home Thursday, October 5 | 7:30PM Friday, October 6 | 7:30PM Saturday, October 7 | 7:30PM
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.
Friday's performance includes a pre-show procession and walking tour guided by Parker & Black Gotham Experience
Directed by Leslie Parker Dramaturg Sharon Bridgforth Mentor & advisor Omi Osun Joni L. Jones Dancers Leslie Parker, Tenisha George, Paloma McGregor Sound Designers Michael Wimberly, Nioka Workman, Dameun Strange Costume Designers Maggie Dayton, Jordan Hamilton, Masanari Kawahara Stage Design Seitu Jones, Jordan Hamilton Priestess (Processional) Khusaba Seka Light Design Heidi Eckwall Projection Design Meena Mangalvedhekar Altar film love conjure/blues Written and directed by Sharon Bridgforth text excerpted from the “love conjure/blues” performance novel Producers Sharon Bridgforth & Krissy Mahan Cinematography & Editing Krissy Mahan Visual Sculpting Wura Natasha Ogunji Featuring Omi Osun Joni L. Jones Voices Laurie Carlos & Sharon Bridgforth Divination Tools: imagine home is co-commissioned by Walker Art Center (MN), Pillsbury House Theatre (MN), Pangea World Theater (MN), Danspace Project (NYC), and Counterpulse (SF). More about the performances at Walker Art Center
The presentation of Divination Tools: imagine home was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Leslie Parker (founder of Leslie Parker Dance Project) was born in the traditional homeland of Dakhóta and Ojibwe people with deep roots in the territory also known as the Rondo community St. Paul, MN. She is a dance artist with home-art bases in Lenapehoking also known as NYC, NY, and in Twin Cities, MN. As a dance artist/maker, improviser, performer, director, collaborator, and educator, she emphasizes an organic aesthetic in experimental movement derived from the Black and African diaspora. Growing up in the Rondo community rooted Parker in socially engaged art, leading her to earn a BFA in choreography and modern dance technique from Esther Boyer College of Music & Dance (Temple University), an MFA in dance from Hollins University in partnership with the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, and the Dresden Frankfurt Company in Frankfurt, Germany as well as her independent studies at Centre Culturel Blaise Senghor de Dakar. Her original work is recognized by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Fund (2023), McKnight Foundation as Choreographer Fellow (2022); National Dance Project/nefa (2021), National Performance Network Development fund (2021), and National Performance Network Creation Fund (2020). She is an Outstanding Performance Bessie Award recipient and was an inaugural Jerome Hill Foundation Artist Fellow (2019–21). As an organizer, Parker initiated “Moving Dialogue for Non Violence” – a platform that uses dance art as a catalyst for social change and empowerment in partnership with CAMBA at Broadway House Women’s Shelter in Brooklyn, NY and at The Family Place in St. Paul, MN. Parker initiated Leslie Parker Dance Project, LLC as a means to experience dance art more intuitively. As an educator, she led and facilitated classes as a guest assistant professor at Carleton College, a lecturer at University of Minnesota and as a guest artist instructor at various institutions in the US. The NY premiere of Divination Tools: imagine home is the latest iteration of her most recent multi-year/iterative work, Call to Remember – rooted, researched, and performed as liberative space through residencies, stage performances and workshops across the US, including, Minneapolis, MN, at Walker Art Center, Pillsbury House Theatre, and Pangea World Theatre, San Francisco, CA, at CounterPulse, New York, New York at Danspace Project, Tallahassee, FL, at Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, and Philadelphia, PA, at BOOM. www.leslieparkerdance.com
Paloma McGregor (Founder, Angela’s Pulse) is a Caribbean-born, New York-based choreographer who makes Black work with Black folks for Black space. A former newspaper reporter, she combines a choreographer’s craft, journalist’s urgency and anti-racist organizer’s framework to activate creative communities and shepherd collaborative visioning. McGregor is currently developing A’we deh ya, a multi-year, interdisciplinary performance project that activates a choreographic call-and-response between the US mainland and her homeland, St. Croix, a current US colony at the frontlines of climate emergency. The first iteration, a dance film, has been screened at film festivals in the US and internationally, and won Best Screendance Film award at the 2022 Denton Black Film Festival. A’we is the latest iteration of her project Building a Better Fishtrap, rooted in her father’s vanishing fishing tradition and three animating questions she’s asked since leaving her ancestral home: What do you take with you? Leave behind? Return to reclaim? Working at the growing edge of her field, McGregor received a 2020 Soros Arts Fellowship for her choreographic work and has been an inaugural recipient of several major awards for her art-making and organizing, including: Mosaic Network & Fund (2020); Dance/USA’s Fellowship to Artists (2019); Urban Bush Women’s Choreographic Center Institute Fellowship (2018); and Surdna Foundation’s Artists Engaging in Social Change (2015). In 2017, she won a “Bessie” Award for performance with skeleton architecture, a collective of Black women(+) improvisers. Paloma is currently an artist in residence at BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance as a recipient of the Artist Employment Program of Creative Rebuild New York. In addition to her art-making, McGregor has spent more than a decade investing in the leadership of other Black dance artists through Dancing While Black (DWB), which she founded in 2012 as a platform for community-building, intergenerational exchange and visibility among Black dance artists whose work, like hers, doesn’t fit neatly into boxes. She does all this work as founder of Angela’s Pulse, which cultivates art-making as a means of community-building, activating vision and illuminating bold stories.
Tenisha George is an interdisciplinary artist, choreographer, and aspiring teacher and cultural anthropologist. She is a Trinbagonian with an interest in Caribbean culture, which has influenced her current research study. She is completing an MA in Studio and Related Studies at Florida State University; her studies focus on the dance traditions of the Caribbean. Her work examines how nostalgia can be utilized to heal social segregation in traditional Trinidadian dances while exploring the various forgotten or disregarded practices that she would like to reinstate. George has a BFA in performing arts (with a specialization in dance) from the University of Trinidad and Tobago, where she trained in ballet, contemporary, Kathak, Odissi, Caribbean folk, and many other dance forms. It is during her undergrad experience that she developed a great love for Caribbean Folk dance and her culture by extension, hence the reason she is pursuing her master’s degree in this field. Tenisha refers to herself as an aesthete, as she finds pleasure in both music and dance and the harmonious beauty that it exhibits. Her artistic path is fueled by the ability to build community and connection through traditional music and dance, and she aspires to produce work which reflects that.
Sharon Bridgforth is a 2023 United States Artists Fellow, 2022 Winner of Yale’s Windham Campbell Prize in Drama, 2020–23 Playwrights’ Center Core Member, 2022–23 McKnight National Fellow, and a New Dramatists alumnae. She has received support from the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Creative Capital, MAP Fund, and the National Performance Network. Her work is featured in Volume 110, No. 4, Winter 2022 of The Yale Review, Teaching Black: The Craft of Teaching on Black Life and Literature (University of Pittsburgh) and Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought, Feminist Studies (The New Press) honoring 40 years of This Bridge Called My Back and But Some of Us Are Brave! Sharon’s new book, bull-jean & dem/dey back (53rd State Press 10, 2022) features two performance/novels that will be produced by Pillsbury House + Theatre in Minneapolis during its 2022–23 season. Sharon has had the privilege of being in residence at MANCC with Marjani Forté-Saunders and Ananya Dance Theatre and is proud to return with Leslie Parker. More at sharonbridgforth.com.
Nioka Workman is an artist, composer, and curator with numerous credits in dance, theater, music, and film. Her recent highlights include appearances at Carnegie Hall in tribute to Paul McCartney (Steve Jordan, music director); with Def Poetry Jam co-producer, Danny Simmons; Wordsmith at Newark Symphony Hall; Nioka Workman Trio featuring Kayo; string features with the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra; and in Bird Calls, a celebration of Charlie Parker by Jazz Foundation of America. Her arrangement of the title track for Blackbirds, by Betty LaVette/Verve, was nominated for a Grammy. Nioka is part of ongoing dance projects by Leslie Parker Dance and nia love’s g1 (HOST):LOSTATSEA, which received a Bessie Award for music/sound design in 2020. Her own independently produced CD, That’s What She Said by Firey String Sistas, receives rave reviews worldwide. Workman received the 2023 South Arts Jazz Roads Tour Grant for tours with the Firey String Sistas through the U.S. Her European and U.S. tours include appearances at Greater Hartford Jazz Festival, Summer Stage Jazz Fest at the Billie, Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival, Race Street Live/Valley Jazz Informances, Baby Grand Jazz, International African Arts Festival, Sugar Hill Music Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Electronic Music Festival, and Sons d’Hiver Festival in Paris.
Michael Wimberly’s commissioned compositions have appeared in the repertory of dance companies Urban Bush Women, Joffrey Ballet II, Alvin Ailey, Ailey II, Philadanco, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, Joan Millers DancePlayers, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Noir, Alpha Omega, Purelements, and the National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique. Film scores include As an Act of Protest by Dennis Leroy Moore, and Atlantic City Lights by Brent Owens for HBO. Sound design for theater includes Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Classical Theatre of Harlem, Saint Lucy’s Eyes by Bridgette Wimberly for the Women’s Project & Cherry Lane Theatre; Sarah Sings a Love Story by Stephanie Berry, produced by Crossroads Theatre; and Iced Out, Shackled and Chained for the National Black Theatre, for which Wimberly received two Audelco nominations. A veteran percussionist and composer, Wimberly has performed with dozens of luminous artists, including Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, India Arie, D.J. Rogers, and Joe.
Dameun Strange is a sound artist, multi-instrumentalist, and award-winning composer of conceptual electronic and improvised electro-acoustic works focusing on the African diaspora’s stories and themes, often exploring surrealist and afro-futurist ideas with unique impressionism. Dameun is compelled to express through sound and poetry the beauty and resilience of the Black experience, digging into a pantheon of ancestors to tell stories of triumph while connecting the past, present, and future. Dameun has worked with such artists as Leslie Parker, Ananya Chatterjea, J. Otis Powell, and Sha Cage and has been a featured performer in concerts celebrating the work of George Lewis, Thurston Moore, and Henry Threadgill. He is a 2018 recipient of the ACF | Create Award and 2019 Jerome Hill Fellowship. He lives in St. Paul with his wife, Corina, and their 4-year-old, Ezra. Like any good nerd, he enjoys a good sci-fi story and has a soft spot for anything related to cosmology.
Established in 2010 by artist/historian Kamau Ware, Black Gotham Experience creates media at the intersection of scholarship and aesthetics that illustrates the impact of the African Diaspora missing from collective consciousness as well as the public square. We reimagine the spaces directly impacted by the African Diaspora as human stories explored through interactive walks, talks, events, and art. The heart of these experiences are five core stories that revisit Manhattan in 1623 and move forward through three centuries: Other Side of Wall Street, Sarah’s Fire, Caesar’s Rebellion, Citizen Hope, and State of Mirrors. blackgotham.com
With Appreciation Thanks to all who have contributed, supported, and participated in Call to Remember, including: Laurie Carlos Mike Wangan Marion McClinton Pillsbury House + Theatre Pangea World Theatre Walker Art Center Danspace Project, NY CounterPulse Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Minnesota State Arts Board National Dance Project/NEFA National Performance Network (NPN) Fractured Atlas Springboard for the Arts Compton Foundation June Wilson Sharon Bridgforth Omi Osun Joni L. Jones Naimah Pétigny Khusaba Seka Nia Love Marlies Yearby Douglas Ewart Jemila MacEwan Brian Parker Oseye Mchawi Edisa Weeks Lydia Bell TU Dance University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance Cowles Center for Performing Arts McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreographers Peter Morrow A.K Wright Andrea Manolov Maxine Yamazaki Liam McLaughlin Francine Sheffield Wasson Loris Bradley Joshua B. Alafia Adrianna Foreman A special dedication goes to Margaret Patricia Parker Hughes and Walter Leslie Hughes Peace, Love, Light, and Progress Big hugs and kisses!
ABOUT US 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. More about our staff, our mission, and values For information on our funders, visit danspaceproject.org/support FOLLOW US @danspaceproject danspaceproject.org