taisha paggett + David Roussève – Danspace Project


taisha paggett + David Roussève
a shared evening

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

Thursday, May 23 | 7:30PM
Friday, May 24 | 7:30PM
Saturday, May 25 | 7:30PM
David Roussève
Daddy AF
Early iteration
Written, Choreographed and Performed by: David Roussève
Dramaturgy: Julie Tolentino
Video: Meena Murugesan
Lighting: Christopher Kuhl
Original Sound: d. Sabela grimes

Tonight I present an in-progress iteration of the first section of a new three-part work, my first solo
performance in more than 20 years. Each section has a different performance mode and focus. Part One begins a dialogue on love by focusing on my early years; Part Two uses my complicated family genealogy, which I’ve traced to the 1400s, to engage in aggressive dialogue around the interplay between race and freedom; Part Three explores the shattering death by suicide of my former husband and queer family member. As a whole, Daddy AF creates a meditation on life’s purpose by a queer African American acutely aware of the finite time he has left on the planet. The full work is scheduled to premiere in fall 2025. I’m thrilled to perform again at Danspace Project, and to be part of Kyle Abraham’s Platform series!
—David Roussève

Daddy AF is commissioned by Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Daddy AF is created with support from Jacob’s Pillow, MASS MoCA, National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron, and UCLA’s Chancellor’s Research Fund, Office for Research & Creative Activities and The Chancellor’s Arts Initiative. Daddy AF is the recipient of a MAP Fund creation grant.

taisha paggett
the weight of our relations

Created by taisha paggett in collaboration with meital yaniv
Performed by taisha paggett and meital yaniv
Video by meital yaniv
The video features archival photos of Maudelle Bass Weston, including works by Edward Weston, Alayna Pernell, Beulah Woodard, Johan Hagemeyer, Diego Rivera, Carl Van Vechten, Sonya Noskowiak, Manuel Alvaro, and other unknown sources. Additional images from Palestine are by Oren Ziv.
Soundscore of recorded and found audio by Adee Roberson and meital yaniv
Text and voiceover by taisha paggett and meital yaniv

Thank you to Kyle Abraham, the entire team at Danspace, David Rousseve, Chris Kuhl, Jennie MaryTai Liu for introducing us to Maudelle Bass Weston, UC Riverside, Latipa and the Memory and Resistance Laboratory, Andrea Geyer, Emily Barasch, all the martyrs and prayer holders, mugwort, cardamom, and olive trees.



David Roussève is a choreographer/writer/director/performer, magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and a Guggenheim Fellow. He is known for his dynamic, socially conscious dance/theater that uniquely blends contemporary dance, theater, and multimedia elements to create immersive and thought-provoking performances. His work draws inspiration from the stories of marginalized communities, as it explores complex themes related to identity, social justice, and human connection. Roussève founded the dance/theater company David Roussève/REALITY in 1988 New York and REALITY has since toured throughout the US, Europe, Great Britain, and South America including three commissions and four performance residencies at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival and two commissions and three performance residencies at Jacob’s Pillow. Roussève’s most recent short film screened at 56 festivals in 11 countries and received 10 awards including 4 for “Best Film.” Other awards include a “Bessie”, Creative Capital Fellowship, 3 Horton Awards, CalArts/Alpert Award, and 7 consecutive NEA fellowships. Roussève is Distinguished Professor of Choreography in the department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA where he has also served as Associate Dean, Acting Dean, and Interim Dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture.

d. Sabela Grimes (he) is a trans-media storyteller, sonic ARKivist, movement composer. Improvisational systems and collaboration are at the heart of his creative practice, inhaling through socio-historical observation, self-examination and speculative meanderings, exhaling through layers of interconnected sonic, visual and kinesthetic arrangements. Sabela be investing in the poetics of assemblage, the magic of mutability, mastering misuse. On faculty at USC’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, he continues to cultivate, Funkamental MediKinetics, a movement system that draws on the layered dance training, community building, and spiritual practices evident in Black vernacular and Hip Hop/Street dance forms. He is recipient of the USC Associates Award for Artistic Expression, Bessie Award for Outstanding Performer and United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship. Sabela’s past projects Philly XP, World War WhatEver, 40 Acres & A Microchip and ELECTROGYNOUS, and he is currently collaborating with Meena Murugesan on new project, Parable of Portals, which dreams Butler’s professional and personal writings into live performances, audio-visual installations, site-specific short films, and interactive community activations.

Christopher Kuhl (he) is a lighting, scenic, and installation designer for new performance, theater, dance, and opera. Recent work includes Dog Days (Prototype Festival, Los Angeles Opera); The Object Lesson (BAM, Edinburgh Festival, Sydney Festival); The Source (REDCAT, BAM); The Institute of Memory (TIMe) (T:BA Festival, The Public Theater); Straight White Men (Young Jean Lee’s Theatre Company, The Public Theatre, Kaai Theater, Centre Pompidou); The Elephant Room (St. Ann’s Warehouse); ABACUS (Early Morning Opera, BAM, Sundance Film Festival, EMPAC); Quartier Libres with Nadia Beugré (New York Live Arts, Walker Art Center); and Cipher with Samita Sinha (T:BA Festival, The Kitchen). He received 2014 and 2015 Bessie awards, two Ovation awards, and Sherwood, Drammy, and Horton awards. He is originally from New Mexico and a graduate of CalArts.

Meena Murugesan (they) are an award winning video artist and movement artist living on Tongva-Kizh land, or Los Angeles. Meena creates experimental non-linear narratives at the intersection of live performancXe, video art installation, and social issues. They are directing a speculative multichannel video art/performance installation entitled Dravidian Futurities about Dravidian-African connections, casteism, colorism, trance/possession art rituals, and re-earthing a sunken landmass called Kumari Kandam or Lemuria. Meena has designed multi-channel video installations/projection mapping for live performance with directors and choreographers such as Christopher Emile/No)one.Art House, Contra Tiempo, D’Lo (nominated for Best Projections for an Intimate Theater, 2021), d. Sabela grimes, Jaamil Olawale-Kosoko, Lionel Popkin, Marjani Forte-Saunders (Bessie Award for Best Visual Design, Memoirs of a...Unicorn, 2019) and taisha paggett, among others. Meena’s dance, video art, or video projection design work has been presented at The Getty Museum, Underground Museum, The Broad, MOCA - Los Angeles, ODC, Abrons Arts Center, Gibney, New York Live Arts, 651 Arts, EMPAC, Jacob’s Pillow, Sophiensaele, Black Star Film Festival, ICA Philadelphia, Tangente, MAI, etc.

Julie Tolentino (she/they) is an interdisciplinary artist working in durational performance, installation, scent & object-making, texts. Her work has been exhibited in the 2022 Whitney Biennial (with Ivy Kwan Arce), Participant, Inc., The Kitchen, Performance Space New York, The New Museum, Aspen Art Museum, Nevada Art Museum, Thessaloniki Biennial, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Museum of Contemporary Art – Macedonia, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Volume, Fulcrum Arts, homeLA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Lab (SF) amongst others. Collaborative projects include Visual AIDS Duets Book series with Kia LaBeija; Movements in Blue with the What Would An HIV Doula Do? Collective; and the Safer Sex Handbook with Cynthia Madansky. Tolentino initiated and ran the Clit Club from 1990-2002. She is the current senior editor for the Provocations in TDR – The Drama Review (since 2012). They received their MFA as the University of California at Riverside’s Dean’s Distinguished Fellow in Experimental Choreography in 2020.

the weight of our relations

taisha paggett (they/she) is the continuation of Cheryl Yvone McGhee, Arveal Paggett Jr, and all the relatives who’ve held them. She respectfully resides on the home and gathering lands of the Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseño, and Serrano, colonially called Riverside, CA. Their research roots inside politico-somatic presencing and performative installation from a black and queer vantage. She upholds dance, choreography, and its methodologies as something to break open--a lens and lung through which to engage ideas--specifically concerning the terrain of racial trauma, grief, and manufactured identities. paggett received an MFA from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance where she had the honor of studying with and eventually touring in the work of David Roussève. Over the years paggett has also performed for Every House Has a Door, Victoria Marks, Mike Kelley, Stanley Love Performance Group, Kelly Nipper, Meg Wolfe and Yael Davids amongst others. paggett’s work has been supported by numerous institutions, curators, writers, collaborators, friends, and family. She’s a Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ Merce Cunningham Awardee (2019) and an Associate Professor in Dance at UC Riverside.

meital yaniv (b. 1984, Tel-Aviv, israel) is learning how to be in a human form. they do things with words, with moving and still images, with threads, with bodies in front of bodies, with the Earth. they are a death laborer tending to a prayer for the liberation of the land of Palestine and the lands of our bodies. they keep Fires and submerge themselves in Ocean and Sea Water often. yaniv is learning to listen to the Waters, birdsongs, caretakers, and ancestors as they walk as a guest on the home and gathering place of the Cahuilla-ʔívil̃uwenetem Meytémak, Tongva-Kizh Nation, Luiseño-Payómkawichum, and Serrano-Yuhaaviatam/Maarenga'yam. yaniv is the author of bloodlines. They make offerings through true name collective. ig: @bloodlines_book

Adee Roberson (b. 1981, West Palm Beach, Florida) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is a meditation on symbolism and texture. Synthesizing performance and installation, her work melds vibration and technicolor visions through paintings, video, and melodic compositions. These works offer a refracted timeline of black diasporic movement, weaving sonic and familial archives, with landscape, rhythm, and spirit. They have exhibited and performed at numerous venues including, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Antenna Gallery, Project Row Houses, Palm Springs Art Museum, Human Resources, UTA Artist Space, NADA Miami, Charlie James Gallery, Contemporary Art Center New Orleans, MOCA Los Angeles, and Art Gallery of Ontario. Adee has been an Artist-In-Residence at Echo Park Film Center, Treehouse Lagos, and ACRE. She is a recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Cutting Edge Grant and the 2021 Los Angeles Artadia Award. She is based in Los Angeles, California.

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.


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.

More about our staff, our mission, and values

For information on our funders, visit danspaceproject.org/support


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