STORIES OF COLLABORATION
Alabama Dance Council, Birmingham, AL
Rosemary Johnson: Executive Director of Alabama Dance Council
Wideman Davis Dance was the the featured guest company of the 2020 Alabama Dance Festival for the world premiere of Migratuse Ataraxia, a site-specific work performed in the Klein-Wallace House in Harpersville, Alabama, for six sold out performances. This multimedia dance performance shifts the rules of representation in antebellum domestic spaces to memorialize the lives of enslaved individuals through movement, technology, and visual installations, culminating in a curated meal and community dialogue. Performers led audience members through a series of vignettes—each staged in a separate room—that de-territorialized and challenged notions of freedom and movement through racialized spaces. Visual artist Michaela Pilar Brown created a performative room sculpture built with objects and materials contributed by black and white descendants. After the meal, with menu selections were based on historic cuisine by culinary anthropologist Myron Beasley and chef Clayton Sherrod, facilitators led group discussions, with the artists participating. Johnson describes the experience of creating this ambitious project:
Working with Tanya, Thaddeus, and their collaborators was a powerful and meaningful journey. When presenting deep community experience with a site-specific work, communication is key. Tanya and Thaddeus were so generous with their time, working with me to solve both logistical and artistic components of the performance, curated dinner, and community conversations. It was very fulfilling to work with artists to bring their vision to life. I have never had the opportunity to work so deeply with artists in community and wish I could work every year in this manner. We all learned from this experience and look forward to continuing our collaborations for future projects.
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Michael Reed, Senior Director of Programs
In conjunction with Dance Theater of Harlem, this residency involved lecturing on the Great Migration and teaching dance and choreography both on and off campus, around the work past-carry-forward, based on the Great Migration. Reed tells the story of what happened:
I found their work to be truly extraordinary. Besides helping to create a much deeper experience for our audience for Dance Theater of Harlem, Tanya and Thaddeus’s residency week here was, in and of itself, an extremely enriching and educational experience for members of Phoenix’s largest Baptist church, the local community, and multiple ASU academic areas including history, theater, dance, and critical inquiry in dance technique. Their classes, lectures, and interaction on and off campus were very thoughtfully conceived and brilliantly realized. Their ability to fuse research/academic rigor with communication and instruction styles that were at once deeply insightful, challenging, and accessible is something that I have seen very few artists or academics able to achieve in my time here at ASU. It resonated strongly with our faculty and students to have such accomplished artist in university assistant professors of this high-caliber sharing their knowledge in such a unique and innovative way.
Migratuse Ataraxia (2021)
Columbia, SC, Presented by Historic Columbia. Virtual Residency
Kelly Kenard, Education Manager
As part of an ongoing partnership with Historic Columbia, in April 2021, Wideman Davis Dance presented a reimagined Migratuse Ataraxia (2021) as a performative architectural tour that centers Black humanity in response to time, COVID-19, histories, migration and speculative Black futurity. This three-month, virtual, intergenerational residency of movement workshops and structured dialogues took place with Historically two Black Colleges and Universities, Allen University and Benedict College, and African American seniors from the Columbia Housing Authority. Kenard described its impact:
It was rewarding to see younger and older generations connect and share their experiences. As an educator and public history professional, it was beneficial to hear the shared experiences among different generations, especially how BIPOC audiences—young and old—view our historical sites. The experience with Wideman Davis Dance helped me grow as an educator and an ally.
Above: I hoch X in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Photo by Thomas Brenner. Artists: Tanya Wideman-Davis and Veronica Olma. Based on Images. Photo by Jason Ayers. Artists: Amber Mayberry, Kalin Marrow, Jeremy Bannon Neches, Kalin Marrow, Thaddeus Davis, and Tanya Wideman-Davis. Voypas. Photo by Travis Teate Artists: Kalin Marrow, Vincent Lopez, and Tanya Wideman-Davis. Past Works: credits here.