Nicholas Ryan Gant + Shamel Pitts – Danspace Project


Nicholas Ryan Gant + Shamel Pitts
a shared evening

Part of Platform 2024: A Delicate Ritual
curated by Kyle Abraham

Thursday, May 2 | 7:30PM
Friday, May 3 | 7:30PM
Saturday, May 4 | 7:30PM
Nicholas Ryan Gant
Restore: A Healing Conversation Through Music

Created by: Nicholas Ryan Gant
Performed by: Nicholas Ryan Gant with Bendji Allonce, Torrey Beckham, Aaron Brockett, LaChrisha C. Brown, Andre Cleghorn, Hunter the Ultra
Lighting Designer: Carol Mullins

Shamel Pitts
little black lake of RED

Iteration Platform 2024
Concept Director, Choreographer & Performer: Shamel Pitts
Video & Projection Mapping Designer: Lucca Del Carlo
Choreographic Associate or “Troublemaker”: Niall Jones
Lighting Designer: Carol Mullins
Scenic Designer *: Devante’ Melton
Audio Engineer: Devoye Akeem Folkes
Set Fabricator: Evan Jean & Paul Valembois
Stylist: Tushrik Fredericks
*Original scenic design by Nthabiseng Malaka, The Centre for The Less Good Idea (Johannesburg, South Africa).

Special thanks to The Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, South Africa for creation & production residency support; to Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for providing rehearsal studio space support; to Emily Waters & my arts collective TRIBE for their unwavering support.


Restore: A Healing Conversation Through Music

Nicholas Ryan Gant, affectionately known as the Ghetto Falsetto, is a New York based artist and educator, from Phoenix, Arizona. NRG studied classical vocal performance at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and holds a master’s of art in Music Education from Hunter College, as a participant in The Lincoln Center Scholars program. NRG has been a worship leader at his local church in Brooklyn for more than 12 years. There at his church NRG discovered a gift for connecting with youth. This passion for youth development has led him to build a career as a music educator with the New York City public school system for the past 7 years. NRG is a recipient of the 2020 Paul Simon Music Fellowship. In addition to the classroom NRG is also an accomplished vocal coach for several artists and record labels, as well as a sought -after workshop and masterclass facilitator. NRG is the Vice President of the board of directors for Decolonizing the Music Room. As a vocal composer NRG has collaborated with choreographers Maleek Washington, Francine E. Ott and Kyle Abraham. He’s been a featured vocalist on several recordings internationally and has recorded 8 independent projects of his own. His House music debut, a remake of the cult classic “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” was the number one soulful house song of 2020. His upcoming “Restore” is a collaboration with 3 time Album of the Year Grammy Award winner, Mikey Freedom Hart. NRG has also had the opportunity to sing support vocals for artists such as Michael McDonald, Mariah Carey, Ariana DeBose, Jon Batiste, Miri Ben-Ari, Killer Mike & Run the Jewels, and Childish Gambino.

Bendji Allonce began his percussion career deeply rooted in his Haitian culture, and has toured across the globe collaborating with the best of many musical genres. Highlights of his career include providing percussion for Miley Cyrus at SNL Mothers Day 2021, Kesha performance at 2018 Grammys, Vogue Fashion show with designer Pyer Moss curated by Raphael Saadiq, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Les Nubiens, Chrisette Michele, Craig Robinson and The Nasty Delicious Band, Elle Varner, and currently touring with Grammy nominated Kassa Overall. In addition, he stays busy doing studio work with artists ranging from Bilal, Ben Williams, B Slade (formerly Tonex), vocalist/pianist/producer Chris Rob, to living legends like songstress Roberta Flack and Sheryl Crow for Father Goose Dan Zane Project. Bendji has also appeared on Netflix Seth Rogan's Hilarity for Charity along with Craig Robinson and The Nasty Delicious in collaboration with the Muppets, episodes of VH1's Love and Hip-Hop, BET's Music Matters and HBO show Vinyl. Influenced by his father Herman Nau, bandleader of Haitians' leading Kompa band "Tabou Combo," it was only fitting for Bendji to also become an internationally recognized musician. His craft continues to evolve everyday while his effortless performance, and ability to cross over to new genres of music are leading factors to his distinction and authenticity as a musician.

Torrey Beckham (they/them) (b. 1982, Dallas, TX) is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist whose work explores Black American and African Diasporic identity as expressed within the context of queerness and life in a society committed to anti-black and anti-queer policy and culture. Building upon their training as a classically trained vocalist and jazz musician raised in the Black gospel tradition, Torrey constructs soft sculptures and performance art using weaving techniques rooted in Ghanian kente and Japanese weaving with braiding and binding techniques. Torrey creates evocative abstract works in deep saturated colors and an approach that shows a masterful understanding of light, texture, and narrative.

Aaron Brockett is a musician from Brooklyn, NY. He got his start playing drums and singing at his dad’s church from the early age of 12. Aaron has sung for B. Slade/Tonex and Naomi Raine. Aaron is currently a drummer and worship leader at SoulCry Church in LIC, Queens.

LaChrisha C. Brown is an actor, teacher and vocalist based between NYC and East Africa. As a result of her work with Donkysaddle Productions (There is A Field) and Colab Arts (Life Death and Life Beyond) she has been active in the development of multidisciplinary performance art and a facilitator of political conversation examined through Social Justice Theater. She currently sings background for Hamilton Leithauser and Nicholas Ryan Gant. Film Credits: Pillow Talk on BET+ (Lyric), Teacher Problems on YouTube (Amy Lovett), MADD (Detective), Sub-Par with LABK (Creator).

Born in Brooklyn, Andre Cleghorn, a multi-instrumentalist, has had a successful and accomplished career as a bass guitarist. He has toured across the globe, mastering his craft and cultivating a sound and style that's all his own. As a teenager, he traveled internationally with legendary N.Y. radio personality and producer, Vy Higginsen. He credits those early years with developing his professionalism and musical integrity. Andre has also served as a bassist for many Independent and Major label artists such as, Asher Roth, Zedd, Kehlani, Joe Budden, Mykal Kilgore, MeLo-X, RAII & Whitney, Chanelle Haynes of the Grammy nominated group, Trin-i-tee 5:7 and Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, Estelle. His extensive session-work with producers The Remedy, Arden Altino (Wonda Music), Darien Dorsey and acclaimed songwriter, Andrea Martin, provided him with a first class education in studio work ethic. His passionate approach to bass is most evident on the first single of Rick Ross’ “Teflon Don” album, “Super High” featuring Ne-Yo.

Hunter the Ultra began his creative journey in the heart of Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. At the age of two, Hunter began displaying musical abilities, singing with the Sunbeam Choir at the Historic Rugged Cross Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. As a young child, Hunter continued developing his artistic abilities at his elementary school, P.S. 299 Thomas Warren Field School of Leadership and Service, where he immersed himself in the art of theatrical production, performing in plays, musicals, and concerts. In the world of the performing arts, Hunter has shared their creative passions and gifts with audiences, performers and creatives at some of the world’s finest venues, including Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Joyce Theater, The Apollo Theater, and New York Community Bank Theatre at Westbury. Hunter is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, dancer, writer, illustrator, painter, director, and filmmaker. In the world of film, Hunter has written, directed, and produced over fourteen short-films, and has scored music for over one-hundred commercials. Hunter continues to share their love and passion for the arts by teaching music composition and arrangement, sound recording, music performance, visual recording, creative writing, public speaking, and language arts, for students of life, and students of public, private and chartered institutions. With immense support from his family and friends, Hunter is fulfilling his dreams in the worlds of art, business, and culture. His insight and creativity continues to be a source of light, inspiration, and power to human beings across the Earth. Hunter is the proud Founder, Owner, and CEO of Haus of Ultra.

little black lake of RED

Shamel Pitts, a 2024 Doris Duke Artist Awardee, is a performance artist, choreographer, conceptual artist, dancer, spoken word artist, director, and teacher. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Pitts began his dance training at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and, simultaneously, at The Ailey School. He is a first prize winner in The National Arts Competition from YoungArts. Pitts went on to receive his BFA in dance from The Juilliard School and was awarded the Martha Hill Award for excellence in dance. He began his dance career in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance and BJM_Danse Montreal. Pitts danced with Batsheva Dance Company for seven years under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin and is a certified teacher of Gaga movement language. Pitts has created a triptych of award-winning multidisciplinary performances, with his arts collective TRIBE, known as his “BLACK series,” which has toured extensively to many festivals & performance spaces around the world since 2016. He is an adjunct professor at The Juilliard School, a guest faculty member at Princeton University, New York University, Wesleyan University and has been an artist in residence at Harvard University. He is the recipient of a Princess Grace Award in Choreography,a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow, a Jacob’s Pillow artist-in residence, and a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow.

Lucca Del Carlo is a graphic designer and video artist from São Paulo, Brazil. He specializes in transmedia, blending cinema techniques, concepts of architecture, visual arts, light & video design, and technology. He integrates these elements into the direction and creation of scenography, immersive environments, and visual live shows. In his view, all forms of visual communication have interlacing points, utilizing not only technology but also human emotions and their related sensory illusions. Del Carlo's specialty lies in mixing these elements in new ways to inspire and break common patterns in visual art expression.

Niall Jones is an artist based in New York City. Recent performance works by Niall include: Sis Minor, in Fall at Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY (2018); Fantasies in Low Fade at the Chocolate Factory, New York, NY (2019); A Work for Others at The Kitchen @ Queenslab, New York, NY (2021); Open Studio at MoMA PS1, Queens, NY (2021); In the Efforts of Time at Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Stuttgart, DE (2022); dark de luxe: a mess for body, shadow, and other rogue im/materials at Jack Art Center, Brooklyn, NY (2022); a n u n r e a l at The Shed, New York, NY (2022); and C O M P R E S S I O N at Performance Space New York, NY (2022).

Devanté Melton is a Detroit-born visual artist and set designer living in Brooklyn New York. He often cultivates whimsical and fantastical spaces through vibrant and unconventional materials. Inspired by the inherent wonder of nature, Devanté's work evokes a childlike sense of awe and playful curiosity.

Evan Jean is is a multi-disciplinary creative based in New York City, his work in fabrication spans from custom furniture to sets in fashion, film, and events. With his versatile skill set, Evan Jean weaves together elements from various artistic realms to contribute to dynamic and unforgettable experiences.

Carol Mullins first designed lighting at Danspace in 1982 for Andy deGroat. Since then she has designed lighting here and around for Steve Paxton, Douglas Dunn, Vicky Shick, and many others. She has received 3 Bessies, (NY Dance and Performance Awards) and one OBIE for The Talking Band's Painted Snake on a Painted Chair at LaMaMa. Carol will be honored alongside Kyle Abraham and Kristy Edmunds at Danspace Project's Gala on May 7.

Click here to see the Platform calendar & purchase tickets

Danspace Project’s sixteenth Platform is guest-curated by Kyle Abraham, the Princess Grace and McArthur grant-awarded choreographer, performer, and Artistic Director of A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham.

A loving and loyal friend to Danspace, Abraham’s first evening-length work, the Bessie Award-winning The Radio Show, was commissioned and presented by Danspace Project in 2010.

Platform 2024: A Delicate Ritual reflects Abraham’s interest in performers’ rituals, desires, and artistic exchanges. Abraham invited artists Nicholas Ryan Gant & Shamel Pitts, taisha paggett & David Roussève, and Vinson Fraley & Bebe Miller to be in conversation with one another in a process of artistic and intergenerational exchange with the following questions in mind:

How does nature’s relationship with humanity communicate/jostle/live in your body?
How present is a history of love in your relationship to or ritual of prayer?
How does change affect your relationship to ritual and prayer?

Alongside the performances and exchanges, the Platform will honor Abraham’s dear friend and mentor, the choreographer and teacher Kevin Wynn. A series of Saturday morning dance classes in the style of Wynn will be taught by his former student and friend, choreographer, teacher, and actor Jason Rodriguez. A memorial for Wynn will take place on May 11.

The Platform 2024 print catalogue includes conversations between the featured Platform artists along with unlikely “blind date” exchanges between choreographer Beth Gill & photographer Carrie Schneider; director Charlotte Brathwaite & ecologist Marisa Prefer, arborist Ethan Woods & acupuncturist Steve Pang. To these thoughtful pairings, Abraham posed questions on “location in relationship with healing, connections to home, water, ritual, prayer, and love in a creative practice.” Photographer Gioncarlo Valentine responds to Abraham’s prompts in images.

Abraham will be honored at Danspace’s 50th anniversary Gala alongside Kristy Edmunds and Carol Mullins on May 7, 2024. We hope to see you there!


Thank you to our major institutional supporters the Howard Gilman Foundation and the Lambent Foundation for their critical support of this Platform.

Danspace Project programs are made possible in part through public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
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.


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 50 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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