American Realness

jumatatu m. poe


Presented by BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance

Thursday, January 10, 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Friday, January 11, 4:00pm – 7:00pm
Saturday, January 12, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Sunday, January 13, 2:00pm – 5:00pm

180 minutes
*terrestrial features a 45-minute performance cycled over a 180 minute duration. Ticket holders may come and go at 15-minute intervals.

BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance
2474 Westchester Ave
The Bronx

Buy Tickets!

Inspired by the hot brown granules in both desert dirt and beach sand, terrestrial is a performance and visual examination of humans as earth and Black humans as having a long, continuing terrestrial history that far precedes—and will outlive—the past five centuries of white supremacy’s specific oppressions. The movement patterns are pathways, appearing and dissolving into geometric returns, similar to traces of dust on the desert horizon or footprints embedded in the surface of the soil, skin. A type of court dance referencing an embodied time capsule, the work assembles fragments of history, existing in a subterranean world.

terrestrial was initiated through a residency at School for Contemporary Dance and Thought organized through Movement Research. The work was further developed for Marýa Wethers’ Gathering Place: Black Queer Land(ing), created for and supported by Gibney.

Photo by Ian Douglas

conceived and designed by jumatatu m. poe
performed by jumatatu m. poe, Samantha Speis
video captured by Tayarisha Poe
lighting designed by Asami Morita
production and management by Marýa Wethers

jumatatu m. poe I am a choreographer, performer, and educator based between Philadelphia and New York City who grew up dancing around the living room and at parties with my siblings and cousins. My early exposure to concert dance was through African dance and capoeira performances on California college campuses, but I began formal dance training in college with Umfundalai, Kariamu Welsh’s contemporary African dance technique. My work continues to be influenced by various sources, including my foundations in those living rooms and parties, my early technical training in contemporary African dance, my continued study of contemporary dance and performance, and my recent sociological research of and technical training in J-setting with Donte Beacham.

Samantha Speis is a movement artist based in New York City. She has worked with Gesel Mason, The Dance Exchange, Jumatatu Poe, Deborah Hay (as part of the Sweet Day curated by Ralph Lemon at the MoMA), Marjani Forte, Liz Lerman, and is Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women. She is currently a member of The Skeleton Architecture, a collective of black womyn and gender non-conforming artists who use the practice of improvisation to create, organize, advocate, gather, play and challenge. Speis was the 2012 recipient of the Alvin Ailey New Directions Choreography Lab and recently was awarded a Bessie for Outstanding Performer.

Tayarisha Poe creates complex portraits of young people of color in her multisensory work that blends film, photography, and prose across media platforms. “My stories seek to show young people of color that they can choose how to define themselves, and they can shape their world,” she says. Poe’s forthcoming debut feature film, Selah and the Spades, began as an online series of photographs, short films, prose, and web design, telling the story of a charismatic black teenager in a fictional Pennsylvania town. The project marked Poe as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2015 and was recently further developed at the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. Poe is a 2016 Knight Foundation Sundance Fellow and has been awarded grants from the Cinereach Foundation and Leeway Foundation.

Asami Morita is a lighting designer who grew up back stage and later made her way onstage as a performer. Returning to her back stage roots, she has been on tour as a lighting supervisor with Kota Yamazaki, Yasuko Yokoshi, Kashu-Juku Noh Theater among others before becoming Technical Director at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center. Her lighting design includes but not limited to shows by Mike Albo, Mayfield Brooks, Dylan Crossman, Hilary Easton, Jack Ferver, Gina Gibney, jumatatu m. poe, Jill Sigman, Makiko Tamura, Caleb Teicher, Steeledance, Gwen Welliver and Nami Yamamoto.

Marýa Wethers is an Independent Creative Producer and Curator based in NYC since 1997. As a Curator she conceived and created the three-week performance series “Gathering Place: Black Queer Land(ing)” at Gibney Dance and curated for the Queer NY International Arts Festival (2016 & 2015) and Out of Space @ BRIC Studio for Danspace Project (2003-2007). Her writing includes Configurations in Motion: Curating and Communities of Color Symposium publications, organized by Thomas DeFrantz at Duke University (2016 & 2015); UnCHARTed Legacies: women of color in post-modern dance in the 25th Anniversary Movement Research Performance Journal #27/28 (2004). Marýa is also a Bessie Award winning performer (Outstanding Performance with Skeleton Architecture, 2017).

Thank you to the performing and design collaborators (including Rodrigo Jerônimo who performed in an earlier iteration), to BAAD!, and to American Realness for helping to continue the development of this work. I remain in deep gratitude to Black queer youth (younger than me), peers, elders, and ancestors who hold my hand while I practice life alongside others. I’m thankful for the SoundCloud documentation of Fred Moten’s Blackness and Poetry. While listening to the post-lecture discussion period, I really began to become invested in this idea of human beings as earth. As my work continues to deeply feel and tenderly caress Black human beings, I am particularly interested to experience where this positioning of Black humans as earth will lead this work in the years to come. It’s scary to expose feelings and reflections and experimentations that are still so so very new, but I am trying to remain with the mantra that Samantha gifted to me 6 years – and it has stayed with me since: default to trust. How beautiful and dangerous… Thank you to the folks who came to experience this work with us, and I look forward to where this work will lead me and itself in the future as I fulfill my desire and responsibility with my work to go where the Black people be.

“While descriptively rooted in the surface-world, my experience of the artists was of a sacred communion of body and spirit. Here we were finally inhabiting the distant horizon, joining both heaven and earth seated at the feet of red eyed, heady guardians. The ripples through the bodies were seismic. As the three collapsed slowly to the floor, the settling occurred through a series of ruptures, earthquakes and aftershocks.”
– Maura Donohue, Culturebot

“There’s something to be said for the performers’ proximity to their audience here: every dimple on their bodies is visible. And there’s beauty in their sheer nakedness—physical and emotional.”
– Erica Getto, The Brooklyn Rail