Each season the AoCC invites a member of the community to curate artists to participate in Movement Research at the Judson Church. The Fall 2017 / Winter 2018 curator is Ebony Noelle Golden, who has curated Audrey Elaine Hailes, Jaime Yawa Dzandu, Courtney J. cook performing on October 16, 30, and November 13.
Experiments in Creative Emancipation
Audrey Elaine Hailes, Jaime Yawa Dzandu, and Courtney J. Cook make work that is challenging, thick, messy, purposeful, durational, muscular, textured, and requires full-bodied participation from the audience. This is the kind of art we need. Cheers to these bold and necessary artists for making work to challenges the times and sets a vision for emancipation in action.
Extended Curatorial Essay by Ebony Noelle Golden
Spirit and the safe house rituals of the contemporary underground railroad secret route
safe house sanctuary station master safe keeping search
Nation-state freedom freedom freedom state your nation
Home this cave this dugout ground this river bank
This freedom train
Where’s the light
Where’s the light
Where’s the light
Go to the light
Go to the light
Let go with this stop with this more with this sleep with this
before the morning moves listen to the leaves
I see Araminta’s face in the wind strip and lick every blade of green
slick sweet song a jolt of electric laughter easing into her bones
i become a forest i become a rainforest i become a many-rooted tree
become the trees’ grandfather become oak-veined
become baobab-crowned maple-rooted
I weep and new planets form i become the forest
become purple mushrooms under decomposing leaves
become dark light
I become cypress-backed settled in this sway this way of the wind
Is the song i sing
I first fire
then water move blip every sprouts
This is how i unstitch slave from my throat
get lost in the tree tops
find freedom in the air
turn the music
turn the music up up up up up up louder
shake that shit off
Where do we find respite? Where do we find safety? Where do we find a moment to breathe, a moment to recoup, and reclaim ourselves as we are on this life-long journey to emancipation? In today’s political climate, I look to artists to show us how practice resistant-resilience that build bridges from the here to the where we want to go.
The work of emancipation is embodied, durational, performance practice. In this moment, it’s important to figure out how the movement for emancipation is encoded into our collective DNA. It is important to rehearse our work for emancipation everyday. Places are being uprooted. People are being uprooted. Our actions, our rituals, our dances remain. This is how we remember. It is through our blood, our memory, our muscles, our recipes, our culture. These practices constitute our collective technologies and strategies for justice and drive our vision for emancipation forward.
Creativity expands, deepens, and cultivates interdependent, embodied, emancipation. The current socio-political moment, the venom of regressive policies, the confusion, and despair that some people feel deeply can be debilitating. The current socio-political moment, the venom of regressive policies, the confusion, and despair that some people feel deeply can be debilitating. The deep sadness and profound anger often overpower the beauty and joy in our collective hearts and in this world. My work for emancipation radically juxtaposes the notion that I and we should give up our freedom, that we shouldn’t love, grow, build, and nurture our divine right to be whole, thriving, and emancipated. I won’t let the enemy win. Emancipation is our default and I refuse to believe any other reality.
What can we do to practice resilience? What can we do to expand our capacity to vision and dream the world we want to live in? I am clear, the work of visioning requires breath and sweat. It requires endurance and radicality. It requires brilliance and humility. To vision allows for people to deeply imagine beyond current constraints or perceptions of reality. To vision is to break the bonds that inhibit our ability to see ourselves fully self-possessed, self-determined, and emancipated in the afrofuture.
My work as a human is rooted in conjuring opportunities for my community and the world to see itself emancipated. I’m absolutely, unequivocally obsessed with freedom! It is the vision and agile pursuit of my own full humanity that keeps me alive and striving this lifetime.
I am excited to curate artists into Movement Research’s fall season. All of which I have been in creative process with in different capacities for a period of time. These artists, Audrey Elaine Hailes, Jaime Dzandu, and Courtney J. Cook represent for me the ways in which the world can learn deep and profound ways about how to self-emancipate.
Through this process, the artists have committed to each other and to work of connecting embodied practice creative emancipation experiments. Each night, one of the invited dancers will dance in work they have created with the other ensemble members. The idea is that they will become well-versed in each others movement styles, strategies for spirit-sourced movement structures, while building community with each other. Hopefully, the triad will have much to share about the process of sharing and embodying shared approaches to getting free with all of us.
Their work is challenging, thick, messy, purposeful, durational, muscular, textured, and requires full-bodied participation from the audience. Actually audience isn’t the right word. These artists conjure work that blatantly shatters the perceived proscenium. Their work aligns our heartbeats. Their work pushes us to our collective highest good. Their work challenges me sit with the discomfort of the current moment and then to get up and do something about it.
Ebony Noelle Golden is an artist and cultural strategist who unflinchingly believes in the power of creativity to inspire, instigate, and incite acts of collective and self-determined emancipation. As an artist-scholar, Golden stages site-specific rituals + live art productions that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now.
Her creative work has been presented at Judson Memorial Church, National Black Theatre, Hayti Heritage Center, DC Arts Center, and the Bronx Academy of Art and Dance among others. Her curatorial projects have been presented at Brooklyn Museum, New York University, Alternate Roots, and The Brecht Forum among others.
A native of Houston, Texas, Golden resides in the Bronx. She is currently artistic director of the Body Ecology Womanist Performance Project, Artist-in-Residence at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, and recently served as an Activist-in-Residence at the University of Oklahoma. She is developing 125th and Freedom, a performance art installation of ten choreopoetic rituals along 125th Street exploring home, migration, displacement, and the eradication of black space due to gentrification. She hold degrees in poetry and performance studies from Texas A&M University, American, University, and New York University, respectively.
Visit www.bettysdaughterarts.com to learn more about 125th & Freedom, and to purchase tickets for September 17 and 24 performances.
Audrey Elaine Hailes is a dance-theatre artist raised in Washington DC. Committed to public performance as a necessary tool for wellness and revolution, she received a BFA in Experimental Theatre from NYU and is a 2013 Laundromat Project Professional Development Fellow. Audrey is a teaching artist, performer with the Dance Cartel and co-host of the women-run radio show Hip Hop and Her Family. Her work was recently commissioned by Gibney Dance and Dance Theatre Etc. Operating in the blessing of abundance, the support, fortification and history shared by family is the fuel behind her practice.
Jaimé Yawa Dzandu is a movement artist, choreographer, educator and community arts practitioner from Hampton, VA. Daughter of Patricia Dzandu and James Dzandu. She creates participatory art-based experiences, rooted in an African Diasporic movement practice. Her ritual choreographic work reflects the sacred in performance and investigates, nature, black womanhood, justice, healing, peace building and transformation. Jaime’s work has been presented in various spaces including Bushwick Starr,The National Black Theatre,The Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, and Mahalia Jackson Theatre of Performing Arts. As an artist and educator she holds space for young movers, facilitating a learning environment of self discovery and self empowerment through dance for the past ten years. She is committed to the wellness of women and girls of color. Jaimé holds a B.F.A in Dance & Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University and resides in Brooklyn, NY. She bows in gratitude to all freedom warriors and all that guide her along her journey.
Courtney J. Cook is a Virginia Native now residing in Brooklyn, NY. She began her formal movement training at family reunions and her home church. She later shifted to training in european centered dance forms at Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts while continuing studies of marginalized dance forms at local night clubs. She also attended and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, receiving her B.F.A in Dance and Choreography. She is now a company member and BOLD facilitator with the iconic Urban Bush Women. She is also involved in creative projects and works by other innovative women choreographers of color such as Maria Bauman (MBDance) and Marguerite Hemmings (We Free). She continues learning, living, and developing her own creative voice through various forms of movement, sound, and visual arts. She is here, in the NOW, and she is beyond grateful.
Program note: Malcolm-X El-Shabazz Betts performed in Audrey Elaine Hailes’s work, What’s In Tha Laughin’ Barrel, with Jaimé Yawa Dzandu on October 16 as part of Movement Research at Judson Church Artists of Color Council Curation.