2022-23 Season

 

Risk and Regeneration:

New Tools for New Awareness
 

February 9-11, 2023

 

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal.”

 

–Toni Morrison

 

We need some R&R! Not rest & relaxation, but risk and regeneration. Perhaps even rage & repair. There is no returning to what came before, so how can we fall into new possibilities, realities and ways of being? For this next season, how do we hold that "if no one goes first, how can anyone follow?" BlackLight 2023 is taking the leap into risking wrong, risking right, risking being loved and seen. In order to take these steps, how are we recovering and regenerating? We have lost so much. How can we find who we are and who we want to be? Join us for some much needed R&R.

 

Stay tuned for our full lineup and schedule release in December!

 


 

OUR HEADLINING ARTISTS

Mark Caserta

Mark Caserta, born and raised in South West Philadelphia, graduated from the University of the Arts School of Dance with a B.F.A. in 2010. They danced professionally with international touring companies Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz De Montreal and Camille A. Brown & Dancers since then. Mark has been awarded the Philadelphia Rocky Award for Outstanding Dance Performance, The Patrick Swayze Scholarship from Complexions Ballet, the Pennsylvania Ballet Choreography Award and Outstanding Choreography Awards from Youth American Grand Prix. Mark was a 2018 Emerging Choreographer at Springboard Danse Montreal and premiered their first full evening length work ‘BIG KID’ at Gibney NY POP Performance Series in February 2019. Mark was commissioned to for new works on Pennsylvania Ballet II, Grace Dance Theater, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance with partner Mikey Morado, Atlanta based company Kit Modus, Whim W’him Contemporary Dance Seattle, Peridance Youth Ensemble and DanceWorks Chicago. Mark was named the 2019/2020 EMERGE Award Recipient with Gibney Company & Springboard Danse Montreal. With this award, Mark was commissioned for a new creation on Gibney Company in Spring 2020. Mark has presented work at Wanderlust Dance Festival, The Austin Dance Festival, Dance Gallery Festival, The Banff Center for Performing Arts Choreographic Gesture, The Boston Dance Festival, Steps On Broadway Choreography Lab and the Brooklyn Dance Festival. They have also created work on the University of the Arts School of Dance and Pace University. Mark was co-director of The Thriving Artist Project from 2017-2020, a program offering a free Pre-Professional experience to young dance artists. He was also on faculty teaching Ballet, Contemporary Ballet and Movement Research at Dance industry Performing Arts Center. Mark currently is Artist in Residence at University of the Arts School of Dance, Contemporary Faculty at Gibney Dance NY & Peridance Capezio Arts Center, a guest artist with MindLeaps and a freelance educator, dancer and choreographer. Mark is creating new work for their own project BigKid Dance, a small dance company based in Philadelphia.

Jamison Curcio

Jamison Curcio is an interdisciplinary artist and community curator. Working at the intersections of performance art and Black feminism, Curcio fosters stories of liberation and reimagining. As a graduate from Goucher College, Curcio holds a B.A. in Performance Art for Social Justice and the recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Brooke Pierce Award in Fine Arts for Choreography (‘19). Her dance film "HOW WE GET FREE" has premiered at the 38th Annual Choreographers Showcase, Celebrate 845, MODArts: Collective Thread, Mashup LA’s Showcase, The Southeastern Center for Contemporary of Art Black @Intersection Exhibition and soon the Women in Dance Leadership Conference.

 

 

Symara Johnson 

Symara Johnson, a Portland Oregon native, currently residing in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has immersed herself in interdisciplinary and choreographic studies globally. She is a recipient of the Dai Ailian Foundation Scholarship based in Trinidad and Tobago. Symara is a graduate of the Beijing Dance Academy and SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory of Dance program. She currently is a BAX Fall Space Grantee and a CPR 2022 AIR. Johnson has presented work throughout NYC and Germany. She is currently a company member with Urban Bush Women and has danced works most notably by and for Kevin Wynn, Ogemdi Ude, Jasmine Hearn, Joanna Kotze, Netta Yerushalmy, Christoph Winkler and more.

 

 

Michael J. Love

Michael J. Love is an interdisciplinary tap dance artist, scholar and educator. His embodied research intermixes Black queer feminist theory and aesthetics with a rigorous practice that critically engages the Black cultural past as it imagines Black futurity. Love is a 2021-23 Princeton University Arts Fellow and Lecturer at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts. His work has been presented by Fusebox Festival and ARCOS Dance and published in Choreographic Practices. Recently, Love and frequent collaborator, film-based artist Ariel René Jackson, were the co-recipients of the 2021 Tito’s Vodka Prize. Love holds an M.F.A. from UT Austin. 

 

 

Shanice Mason 

Shanice Mason (she/her) is a dance artist, arts administrator and educator residing in the Washington, D.C. area. Shanice’s skills, at the intersection of art and digital media, include graphic design, media production and content creation. Her work in storytelling within digital media connects the creative aspects of artists’ work to its production and content delivery. Shanice freelances with a variety of D.C.-based dance companies while periodically creating her own work. In addition to her footprint in the district, Shanice is a founding company artist of New York-based company, Johnnie Cruise Mercer/TheREDProjectNYC. She currently spearheads the company’s fellowship program designed for undergrad and post-grad students and serves as process manager for company projects. Shanice is the Sr. Manager of Marketing and Communication at CityDance, serves on the Board of Directors at Dance Metro DC, holds a faculty member position at the VIVA School for Dance and periodically advises on national digital marketing campaigns for organizations within the dance sector. Shanice is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University where she received her B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography and a minor in General Business. Photo by Jonathan Hsu.

Christian A. Warner

Christian A. Warner is a multidisciplinary artist with a career that displays his curiosities in dance, theater and film. He has danced repertoire from choreographers such as Alvin Ailey, Aszure Barton, Kyle Abraham, Alan Lucien Øyen, Guy Shomroni/Yaniv Abraham, Darius Barnes, Sonya Tayeh, Dwight Rhoden and Yoshito Sakuraba. His company credits include Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Omar Roman de Jesus' Boca Tuya and TU Dance, in which he was a founding member of "Come Through"–an evening length collaboration with Grammy Award winning band Bon Iver. His musical theatre credits include productions such as Disney's The Lion King, Oliver! The Musical, Hairspray and Little Shop of Horrors. As a creator, Christian's choreography and direction has been commissioned at Owen/Cox Dance Group, McCoy Dance Project, by New York Times Best-Selling Author Michael Levin, HSPVA (Once On This Island, Ragtime, Dance Dept.), James Madison University, TX State University, Jeremy McQueen's Black Iris Project and the 40th Annual Battery Dance Festival.

 


 

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

 

MK Abadoo

MK Abadoo (they/she) devises intergenerational and immersive dance performance rituals that combine Africanist and post-modern movement vocabularies with place honoring community building. Moving from a spirit of joy and ease, their work amplifies the lives, stories and wisdom of gender expansive, queer, Black cultures. MK’s work has been commissioned by The Kennedy Center, The Clarice, the University of Richmond and Dance Exchange. She was a 2017 U.S. Fulbright Fellow, working with the Noyam African Dance Institute and the National Dance Company of Ghana. They received a "40 Under 40" award from Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund in 2017, were included as a "rising star" in Dance Magazine’s 2018 "25 to Watch" and were awarded by Richmond, VA Dance Awards for their choreography in the 2019 commemorative justice site-specific work performed at one of the United States’ oldest African burial grounds. MK is an assistant professor of Racial Equity, Arts and Culture in the Department of Dance and Institute of Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is also a Trainer with the anti-racist organizer collective, the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond.

 

Ronya-Lee LaVaune Anderson

Ronya-Lee LaVaune Anderson is the daughter of Pauline and Roxroy Anderson; the granddaughter of Madge McLellan and of Mavis Lawrence, both healers and entrepreneurs. She is an Afro-Caribbean woman of Jamaican heritage. An artist, scholar and educator, Ronya-Lee works with movement, spoken word, costume design, film and original music. Her multimedia work has most recently been commissioned and supported by Dance Place, Duke University, the Maryland State Arts Council, Aunt Karen’s Farm and The Kennedy Center. A former member of the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble and Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange, Ronya-Lee has performed and taught both nationally and internationally. She has collaborated with choreographers Erica Rebollar and Tarik O'Meally, mixologist, Rita Burns, visual artist, Alonzo Davis and dance film maker, Carlos Funn. She has published articles in the Journal of Dance Education, Sojourners Magazine and the UCC Journal of Worship, Music and Ministry. Ronya-Lee is the recipient of the 2021 Pola Nirenska Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. She holds a Master’s of Divinity from Duke University, an M.F.A. in Dance, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Theater and Performance Studies.

 


 

COMMUNITY COMMITTEE

The Clarice's BlackLight Summit comes to life through collaborative curation that prioritizes a diversity of voices and ampliflies people, partnership, process and performance. Our community committee is made of experienced dance professionals, scholars and artists who contribute tirelessly to our summit.

 

 

Ronya-Lee LaVaune Anderson

Ronya-Lee LaVaune Anderson is the daughter of Pauline and Roxroy Anderson; the granddaughter of Madge McLellan and of Mavis Lawrence, both healers and entrepreneurs. She is an Afro-Caribbean woman of Jamaican heritage. An artist, scholar and educator, Ronya-Lee works with movement, spoken word, costume design, film and original music. Her multimedia work has most recently been commissioned and supported by Dance Place, Duke University, the Maryland State Arts Council, Aunt Karen’s Farm and The Kennedy Center. A former member of the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble and Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange, Ronya-Lee has performed and taught both nationally and internationally. She has collaborated with choreographers Erica Rebollar and Tarik O'Meally, mixologist, Rita Burns, visual artist, Alonzo Davis and dance film maker, Carlos Funn. She has published articles in the Journal of Dance Education, Sojourners Magazine and the UCC Journal of Worship, Music and Ministry. Ronya-Lee is the recipient of the 2021 Pola Nirenska Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. She holds a Master’s of Divinity from Duke University, an M.F.A. in Dance, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Theater and Performance Studies.

 

danah bella

danah bella is the artistic director of d a n a h b e l l a DanceWorks, a modern dance company focused on reclaiming evocative movement as social practice. bella has performed and presented her work throughout the country including the Cool New York Festival, the United States Asian American Festival, the Bates Dance Festival, the American College Dance Association’s National Dance Festival, ReVIEWING Black Mountain College international conference, as well as in Mexico and Italy. She has taught workshops and has been artist in residence in festivals and universities throughout the United States and abroad; including, Pro Danza Italia, Bates Dance Festival, Monterey Dance Fest, the American College Dance Association’s Regional and National Conferences, Western Michigan University, University of Virginia, Oklahoma Contemporary Dance Festival, Santa Barbara City College and Goose Route Dance Festival. bella is also a founding member of Colectivo Caliban, an artist collective that transgresses disciplinary borders through sound and movement. She has worked in higher education since 2002. She has an M.F.A. in performance from The Ohio State University and a B.A. in Dance from the University of California in Santa Barbara.

 

paris cyan cian

paris cyan cian is a movement architect, educator and bodypoet working with and through various interdisciplinary forms of dance, drawing, film, photography and sound. Rooted in New Orleans, cyan’s creative work mobilizes embodied memory and ecological play into a worldmaking practice. cyan cian received her B.F.A./B.A. in Dance with a concentration in social justice, gender women’s studies from Hollins University (2018) and Masters of Fine Arts in Choreography at Roehampton University, London, U.K (2021). 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren DeVera

Lauren DeVera is a movement and meditation artist, certified life coach and host of the "Thrive + Thread," wellness and entrepreneurial podcast inviting others to love themselves and pursue their purpose. The podcast was a finalist for the best wellness podcast at the 2020 Asian Podcast Awards. She’s a 2021 recipient of the iFundWomen and Neutrogena Health and Wellness grant. Known for her warmth, infectious energy and ability to curate healing spaces, she's been invited to speak and lead experiences for the Asian Mental Health Project, PCOS Awareness Association, LA Family Housing, NPR and Women in Tech to name a few. A proud dance alumnus of Old Dominion University, Lauren has been teaching and performing professionally for 12 years. Her credits include The Kennedy Center, Howard Theatre, Dance Place, Culture Shock DC, World of Dance, BET, CW Network and various universities. She's the proud founder of The Lion’s Den, an inclusive community connecting people through dance, wellness and self-expression. Lauren recently premiered her first evening-length work Nanay at Joe’s Movement Emporium as a 2021-2022 Arts Incubator Resident Artist. She seeks to reimagine the AAPI narrative and spread awareness of mental health.

 

Rebecca A. Ferrell

Rebecca A. Ferrell is a dance advocate, artist, educator, producer, programmer and researcher. She holds a B.F.A. in Dance from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.F.A. in Dance from Arizona State University. Her research interests focus on equitable practices in dance, specifically traditional transactional procedures, labor rights, pay equity and performing arts unions. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Arts Management at the College of Charleston and the Research Lead and Programming Consultant for Dance Data Project®, an organization that utilizes metric-based analysis to promote gender equity in dance. Ferrell has also served on advisory and grant panels throughout the U.S. including the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, United States Artists, the Arts Education Partnership Council and Virginians for the Arts, where she was a member of the Legislative Committee. She has been on faculty at American University, Arizona State University, Shenandoah Conservatory, University of Illinois and Virginia Commonwealth University. Previous professional positions include Director and Curator of the Flatlands Dance Film Festival, Executive Director of Dance Metro DC and the Director of Programs for Dance/USA.
 

Van Tran Nguyen

Van Tran Nguyen is a multi-media artist. She was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and immigrated to America in 1997. Tran Nguyen holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and Biology and an M.F.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 2021, she received a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Electronic Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Tran Nguyen’s research is centered on nostalgia and identity construction. Her artistic practice interrogates race, gender and class through the mechanism of parody. She is influenced by Vietnamese variety shows and rituals from her diasporic community. Tran Nguyen’s short film, "Erie County Smile" (2021) is a personal, satirical reflection of growing up in nail salons and watching "Paris By Night," a variety show made for the Vietnamese diaspora. This body of work pays homage to children of immigrants who grew up behind doors labeled “EMPLOYEES ONLY.”

 

 

Sarah Beth Oppenheim

Sarah Beth Oppenheim earned her B.F.A. at SUNY Purchase and M.F.A. at the University of Maryland. Career highlights include dancing in forsaken storage closets and performing for Baryshnikov with kale in her incisors, along with gigs at Dance Omi, Ponderosa, The Kennedy Center, Dance Place, The Duke on 42nd St., Marfa, TX, on top of the Chelsea Hotel, National Gallery of Art, U.S. Botanic Garden and secret performances in Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater when she was done cleaning up at the end of the night. As an inaugural Artist in Residence at Dance Place from 2018-2020, she programmed and facilitated community events for students and choreographers, created new works exploring hypermagicalrealism, politics and race and established a research practice of land, music and movement acknowledgment. She currently works as Artistic Director of Heart Stück Bernie, Community Organizer with 120 Project, Education Coordinator for the Blacklight Summit and Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University and George Washington University. Current research includes site-specific meaning making, social justice community engagement, acknowledgement practices and subversive and durational studio pedagogy.

 

Jane Raleigh

Jane Raleigh is the Director of Dance Programming at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  In her role at The Kennedy Center, she curates and produces the Ballet and Contemporary Dance subscription series as well as a variety of dance performances on the Center's Millennium Stage and in the Center’s REACH expansion spaces. Locally, Jane serves on the Pola Nirenska Award jury, is a Board member for Dance Loft on 14 and has been an active member of Dance Metro DC. Nationally, she a co-chair of the Presenters Council and an active member of Dance/USA. Jane also performs throughout the Washington region with a variety of project-based companies.

 

 

 

dani tirrell

dani tirrell (Washington, D.C.), Seattle’s Mayor Arts Award recipient 2019, is a Black, Trans Spectrum, Queer choreographer, dancer and movement guide. dani has guided people in Detroit and Seattle as well as sharing movement practices in other cities in the United States. Currently dani helps curate for the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas (Seattle). dani is the host and co-creator of several online talk programs "Sunday Dinner," "The Living Room" and "Intimate Conversations." dani works at Dance Place (Washington, D.C.) as Dance Place’s Artistic Director.

 

 

 

Patrik Widrig

Patrik Widrig has been a professor of dance at UMD’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies since 2009, where he currently holds the Dorothy G. Madden professorship (2022-24) and co-artistic director of the internationally renowned PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATER since 1987. Presenting "appealingly subversive, engaging, wry and deeply affecting work” (The Washington Post), PWDT has gained an international following for their concert stage choreography, site-specific dance installations, and community performance projects throughout the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia and New Zealand. Upcoming projects include the commission of a multi-disciplinary site-specific performance project at a ship graveyard in Elefsina, Greece, which has been designated the 2023 European Capital of Culture.