I’m originally from the native land of the Karankawa and Atapke peoples, now known as Houston, TX, and I am based in New York City and Pittsburgh, PA. I make dances that simultaneously rebuild and imagine the stories woven into the intersecting lineages of my body, voice, and experience. I am a choreographer, director, curator, organizer, teaching artist, and a 2017 Bessie award winning performer. My commitment to dance is an expansive practice that includes performance, collaboration, sound, and story-telling. I have developed and shared solo and collaborative dance theater performances rooted in identity, memory, and facilitating creative space for feelings and fantasy. As an artist, I aim to cultivate new connections while strengthening existing relationships to who and how I have learned. Intending to preserve and expand lineages of learning by naming, practicing, and integrating a multitude of lessons.
I currently am a company member with Urban Bush Women and a 2019 Jerome Foundation Jerome Hill Fellow. I have creative collaborations with multidisciplinary artists, Solange Knowles, Alisha B. Wormsley, Vanessa German, Ayanah Moor, Holly Bass, and Jennifer Nagle Myers, which have produced solo and collective dance choreography for performances at the Guggenheim Museum, The Getty Center, Venice Biennale 2019, the Ford Foundation, and other internationally acclaimed art spaces such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Houston Arts Alliance. New additions to my body of work include redRuthred, a dance performance project and A Patient Practice, an ongoing project identifying and honoring pedagogical lineages.
I currently live in New York City.
I come from a village within a city—a constellation of individuals who helped my mother care for me. I come from a coven of womyn who taught me how to survive as a black femme in the United States of America. I have learned from healers, movers, medicine makers, performers, witches, and organizers who make up my community that spans the world.
As a choreographer, dancer, sound-maker, performer, and teaching artist, I have been investigating how the body is able to use memory, sensation, and imagination as ways to enter embodied practices to articulate story, ancestry, and personal truth. Through my ever expanding practice of dance, I am committed to the facilitation of an environment that gives space for myself and others to listen and respond to each of our own lineages while we coexist as a once in a lifetime constellation in shared space.
Over the past ten years, the body of my work has been inspired by my time learning. I name June Jordan, Toni Morrision and magic realism, Octavia Butler, Eartha Kitt, Dr. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Nia Love, Rob Lowe, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Marlies Yearby, Kara Walker, Tara Aisha Willis, Robin Coste Lewis, Saidiya Hartman, and Staycee Pearl as direct influences to the belief that I am a vessel for ancestry and spirit to speak through. With my whole being I know that I am a keeper of tales and memories. These nonlinear moments and stories are braided in my blood and bones. These dances are the wishes of my ancestors from the past praying for space and grace to follow pleasure, grief, rage, and the erotic as described by Audre Lorde with their full bodies and voices. These choreographies are my ancestors’ wishes come true for a collective black herstory to live defiantly against erasure. I understand I bring all of this in every performance, class, and gathering.
I am a keeper of tales and memories.
My artistic practice is a collage of habits, colors, memories, tasks, rituals, and intentions. It intends to access memory—to open and retell. It is a song and a calling. It is the answer to my 7 year old self who casted spells in her bathtub..spells that dripped honey, affirmation, and the belief that magic lives in the marrow of our bones. This is the moment from the future she got a glimpse of that gave her the courage to continue to listen, to dream, and to feel.
When I was very young, I was clumsy, and falling was my specialty so my mother put me in ballet. I soon discovered the joy and relief I felt to move my body with Ms. Prsicilla at the barre, my cousin teaching me the two step in the bathroom at the church dance, Ms. Victoria on Saturday mornings in jazz class, family at weddings, and with the ocean swimming in the tide. With all these influences, I began finding my dance practice of listening and simply responding with my breathing, dancing body. I continued my "formal" training at the Houston Ballet Academy, and later the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center and Episcopal High School under the direction of Evelyn Ireton and Frank Vega, and as an intern with the Houston Met Professional Dance Company during my senior year of high school.
As a young artist, I was granted many opportunities to perform. I shared improvisation dances for my community at talent shows, social luncheons for my mother’s friends, and church gatherings. All of these solos were moments to integrate all of my training and practice witnessed by family, friends, and strangers, I realized my power here.
Since graduating Point Park University, I have had the wonderful opportunity to have had an extensive performance career in Pittsburgh, PA. I started as a company member with the, now no longer, Dance Alloy Theater, and then as a core collaborator with the STAYCEE PEARL dance project. Other folks I have had a chance to work with include; Attack Theater, Gia T. Cacalano, the Pillow Project, and the August Wilson Dance Ensemble. At that time, I began to make solos that acted as responses to personal experiences and current events. if god left the lights on could we walk alone in the dark, was my reflection on incidences of street harassment I had experienced. It has been performed in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, PA, New York City, and Houston,TX. The piece, described as “a beautiful frustration of gender roles and our own collusion with the cages they create” (HoustonPress 2013), marked the beginning of my choreographic career. n 2013, I had the opportunity to direct, produce, and choreograph a summer dance series, that’s what she said-- site specific vignettes found in the Garfield and East Liberty neighborhoods. This project was funded by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. That summer at the Capital Fringe Festival, an installment of that’s what she said was presented in Washington D.C.
In 2015 I was traveling mostly by bus--riding overnight into New York City after a nine hour trip in order to attend rehearsals, classes, workshops, performances, and other professional events. It seemed as though I was in many places at once. During this time I was also collaborating with choreographers and multidisciplinary artists, Kate Watson Wallace, Jennifer Meridian, Ayanah Moor, and Julien Prévieux. Later that year, I was selected to be one of five artists in residence at the Dance Source Houston's The BARN, where I began a new choreographic solo project, blue, sable, and burning, and a collaboration with my grandmother, Claudette Johnson to create content for the evening length dance performance iteration of MEMORY KEEP(H)ER. With additional support from the Individual Artist Grant from the Houston Arts Alliance, HOU, TX (2015), videographer Paul Kruse and I then made seven short films for MEMORY KEEP(H)ER to live past the boundaries of live performance.
For the next two years, Shantelle Jackson and I were the first two artists of color selected as Movement Research Van Lier Fellows. From 2016-2017 we were awarded funding to support our individual dance research. We shared an evening program of dance at JACK in Brooklyn, NY. Towards the end of my fellowship, I was offered an artist residency at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, where I composed the sound score for a new piece commissioned by Danspace Project. It also was a chance to offer free movement workshops to children and adults. I also performed the solo, blue, sable, and burning with the Mediterranean Sea as the scenic backdrop for a dance about hurricanes, black mermaids, and water as portal for power and memory. This solo also received support from the Heinz Foundation and the Bronx Council of the Arts with Advancing the Black Arts Grant (2016) and the BRIO Grant (2017) for additional development and site specific performances in Pittsburgh and the Bronx, NY.
Upon returning from France, I was Invited by Eva Yaa Asantewaa to perform with twenty prestigious improvisers black womxn and non-gender conforming people including, Angie Pittman, Charmaine Warren, Davalois Fearon, Edisa Weeks, Jasmine Hearn, Kayla Hamilton, Leslie Parker, Marguerite Hemmings, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Maria Bauman, Mar´ya Wethers, Melanie Greene, Nia Love, Ni'Ja Whitson, Paloma McGregor, Rakiya Orange, Samantha Speis, Sydnie L. Mosley, Sidra Bell, Tara Aisha Willis, and Grace Osborne in skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds" Danspace Project's Platform 2016: Lost and Found. The performance was awarded a 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performers. That performance also resulted in the coming together of most of the listed artists in a currently existing collective that I am also a part of called skeleton architecture. In 2018 I was selected to be a part of a two year residency program through Movement Research. Later that year, I traveled to the UK to collaborate with Alesandra Seutin in a multidisciplinary piece that premiered at Sadler Wells. This experience allowed me to witness a black woman directing with such innovation and dynamic. My heart and mind opened to the possibilities of choreography and artistic direction. I returned to the States excited to begin making a new piece commissioned by Danspace Project in their program collective terrain/s, in which I worked with ten additional dancers and composed five sonic soundscapes. Not only did I hold the role of presenting choreographer in this program but I also held roles of curator and workshop facilitator.
I currently am a company member with Urban Bush Women and a 2019 Jerome Foundation Jerome Hill Fellow. I have creative collaborations with multidisciplinary artists, Solange Knowles, Alisha B. Wormsley, Vanessa German, Ayanah Moor, Holly Bass, and Jennifer Nagle Myers, which have produced solo and collective dance choreography for performances at the Guggenheim Museum, The Getty Center, Venice Biennale 2019, the Ford Foundation, and other internationally acclaimed art spaces such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Houston Arts Alliance.