Interiors/Exteriors: Self-making and Social Justice in Contemporary Black Dance
A two-day virtual symposium presented by UTEP’s Department of Theatre and Dance, and the African American Studies Program.
“Interiors/Exteriors” explores the themes of Black/Africana personhood, and the contemporary politics of Black lived experience through two powerful, experimental, filmic works: Making Men by choreographer Harold George (Sierra-Leone/Belgium) and filmmaker Antoine Panier (Belgium), and (RE)CURRENT UNREST by Charles Anderson (United States). Participants will have the opportunity to view both works via live-streaming, and to engage in a synchronous virtual discussion with the choreographers and collaborators immediately afterwards. The symposium aims to give valuable insights into the co-articulation of the aesthetic, the political, and the philosophical with regard to the global field contemporary Black dance-making. Join us and learn how these dance-makers and their collaborators artfully navigate and engage topics of memory, gender, racial violence, intimacy, and power through each of their distinct African diasporic perspectives.
February 24th, 2020 @6pm: watch “Making Men”
followed by discussion with Harold George and Antoine Panier
respondent: Prof. Neri Torres, Department of Theatre and Dance at UTEP
moderator: Dr. Tawanda Chabikwa
Zoom Meeting ID: 832 9062 1548
Meeting Passcode: 91PP73rV
About the film:
The work focusses on a group of individuals in the process of becoming men. Are they free to choose to do so in any way they deem appropriate, or are they forced into a mold? They proceed unquestioningly, as is expected, into manhood through various stages of their lives, adopting the clearly coded characteristics allowed by society.
However, a feeling of unease, in the very depths of their being, oppresses them. It’s as if they have donned ill-fitting garments made for someone else. They feel uncertainty and something else, harder to define…
They attempt to understand, question and express their doubts. They try to break free of invisible chains, to find their true selves. The choreography seeks to highlight the limits of the male stereotype for those who seek to experience the full range of human emotions.
Shot in the breathtaking landscape of Zimbabwe, the film features strong and rhythmical choreography but also a special camera work that intensifies emotions inspired by the movement.
Harold George and Dunai Dance Theatre Biography:
Dunia Dance Theatre is committed to a creative process that merges an African-inspired aesthetic with contemporary dance theatre. The choreography is the result of an exploration of the meeting between western and African cultures, theatre, painting and other artistic disciplines.
Created by the Sierra Leonean Choreographer Harold George, Dunia Dance Theatre is based in Brussels, Belgium since 2001 and presents work in which story telling and elements of African mythology merge with modern and African dance techniques to create a contemporary dance experience. Harold George works with the plastic arts (painting, sculpture...) and other new media like video, and constantly pushes the limits between artistic disciplines. The result speaks to the emotions through an aesthetic emerging from a diaspora experience.
Antoine Panier Biography:
After fifteen years as a ballet and contemporary dancer, Antoine Panier redirected his professional activity to new technologies and visual communications, including web development, graphics and video. He then carried out projects in various fields (corporate videos, films and trailers for dance and theatre, motion design ...) and took part in the development of the Theatrez-moi! platform for which he makes many video trailers. Through his training and experience in dance, Antoine has developed an original approach to dance in film. This innovative camera work is based on the relationship between the lens and the choreography or the film maker and the dancer.
Through his training and experience in dance, Antoine develops a new approach cinema/dance which results in an original work. This particular camera work is based on the relationship between the lens and the choreography or the movements. The artists, in front of (dancers) and behind the camera (cameraman), listen to each other; they move and breathe together; there is synchronisation. The image is often intrusive and intimate, leaving no room for modesty of emotions.
In 2010 Antoine meets choreographer Harold George for whom he creates video material and visuals to be part of George's work. Making Men is their first work as co-creators.
"George is one of those rare artists who successfully combines, beauty, power, technique and expressiveness(…). Harold George can conjure up a wonderful performance with a small group of dancers."
Luisa Moffet, The Bulletin, Brussels
Concept, writing & creation: Harold George & Antoine Panier
Artistic advice: Vincent Kuentz
Dance: Harold George, Jipé Lukusa-Kankonda, Souleymane Sanogo, Tinashe Jeri, Tatenda Chabarwa, Peter Lenso, Carlton Zhanelo
Production: Compagnie Dunia Dance, Afrikera Arts Trust, Mijim
In partnership with: Africalia & Espace Magh
February 25th, 2020 @6pm: watch “(Re)current Unrest”
Followed by discussion with Charles Anderson
Moderator: Dr. Tawanda Chabikwa
Zoom Meeting ID: 832 9062 1548
Meeting Passcode: 91PP73rV
About the Film:
(Re)current Unrest is an evening length immersive performance installation ‘ritual’ built upon the sonic foundation of Steve Reich’s three earliest works: “It’s Gonna Rain” (parts 1 and 2), “Come Out” and “Pendulum.” The piece is an investigation of legacy, authorship, and the history of black art and protest through the lens of the erasure of the Africanist presence inside of Reich’s compositions.
Reich spent a great deal of time studying African music forms, and “Come Out” samples interview tapes of Daniel Hamm, one of six black men (referred to as the Harlem Six) falsely accused of murder and brutalized by police in 1964. The work, which helped Reich rise to fame, was praised for its composition and political resonance. But Hamm’s voice, and the historical context of racial injustice, is often lost to the formal innovations of the composition. These facts are further obscured when the work is used as the score for Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s “Fase” and problematized further in Beyoncé’s use of De Keersmaeker’s choreography for her music video “Countdown.”
I began creating movement from this starting point in 2016. Shortly after, one of my freshman dance students at the University of Texas, Haruka Weiser, was murdered. Between that tragedy (committed by a young African American man) and the ongoing systematic killing of black men by law enforcement in this country, the piece took on larger dimensions than just these issues of cultural appropriation.
Over a two year development period, the piece has become a meditation on the “American Dream” and Black nihilism, borne of the current racially charged moment. Choreographically, (Re)current Unrest explores the kinesthetic state of unrest–the condition of unease, discontent, and social disturbance. This physical state of agitation represents ‘staying woke.’ To stay woke refers to an intangible level of awareness about community issues and social justice.
(Re)current Unrest is generously supported by a National Dance Production Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts, The National Performance Network, and The University of Texas at Austin. The project is co-commissioned by The Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX) and 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY).
Charles O. Anderson Biography:
Charles O. Anderson is artistic director of Charles O. Anderson/dance theatre X, an afro-contemporary dance theatre company, which he founded in Philadelphia in 2003. Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Charles earned his BA in Choreography and Performance from Cornell University and his MFA in Dance from Temple University. He has performed in the companies of Ronald K. Brown, Sean Curran, Mark Dendy and Miguel Gutierrez among others. His work has been presented nationally and internationally and has earned recognition by numerous grants and organizations such as the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine, and one of ‘12 Rising Stars in the Academy” by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education Magazine. Anderson is currently based in Austin, Texas where he is Head of the Dance Program and an associate professor of African Diaspora Dance Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Anderson also serves on faculty of the American Dance Festival six week school in Durham, NC.