American Realness

Ni’Ja Whitson

A Meditation on Tongues


Saturday, January 7, 5:30pm – SOLD OUT*
Sunday, January 8, 8:30pm – SOLD OUT*
Monday, January 9, 4:00pm

* A waiting list will begin 30 minutes before each performance.

Run Time: 70 minutes

Abrons Arts Center, Underground Theater
466 Grand Street / Tickets $20

Single Tickets Festival Pass

A Meditation on Tongues is a live interdisciplinary adaptation of Marlon T. Riggs’ iconic film Tongues Untied (1989). Both abstract performance ritual and live historic document, this layered work (re)images Black and Queer masculinities. It struts and snaps as it frames new questions about loss at the height of the AIDS pandemic, while challenging constructions of Black love of/as revolution.

A Meditation on Tongues was made possible, in part, through the Brooklyn Arts Exchange and Movement Research Artist-in-Residence programs with additional support from The Jerome Foundation and Mertz Gilmore Foundation.
Photo courtesy of the artist

Concept, Transcription, And Direction by Ni’ja Whitson
Choreographed by Whitson With Collaboration From Performers
Performers The Nwa Project – Kirsten Flores-Davis And Ni’ja Whitson
Sound Design by Ni’Ja Whitson, featuring vocal performance by Jonathan Gonzalez, and the music of Nina Simone, Alice Smith, Billie Holiday, Kendrick Lamar, nikhil trivedi, and excerpts from Tongues Untied
Technical Coordinator And Lighting Design by Emma Rodriguez
Costume by Ni’ja Whitson
Video by Ni’ja Whitson(Excerpts From Tongues Untied, Marlon T. Riggs, Used With Permission By Signifyin’ Works)
Production Coordination by Teri-Ann Carryl
Production Assistant Odessa Jacobson

Kirsten Flores-Davis (collaborator/performer) earned their BA in Dance Movement
Therapy from Hunter College while performing with the National Liturgical Dance
Network in Bridgetown, Barbados and Canberra, Australia. Combining a love for dance
and theater, Davis joined the casts of the Messiah Project at HERE! Arts Center and
BRIC and Boogieman: Diary of a Broken Home, of the Thespis Theatre festival.
Choreographic works have been presented at the South Orange Performance Arts
Center, the Danny Kaye Playhouse and in the 2016 Dance Block Festival. Recently,
Davis has worked with movement based choreographers Ursula Eagly, Maura
Donohue, and Chafin Seymour. This is Davis’ third year as a company member of the
NWA Project.

(guest preshow performer, Jan 7th) Harold Ninja is a member of the Iconic House of Ninja, and works as an apprentice/mentee of Jason Anthony Rodriguez.

(guest preshow performer, Jan 8th, 9th) Jason Anthony Rodriguez (Slim Ninja), native of New York City and BA in dance from Purchase College. Rodriguez has performed with Camille A.
Brown and Dancers and Buglisi Dance Theatre. He works internationally as a
voguer/choreographer for the Iconic House of Ninja and is featured in the Netflix series
“The Get Down” directed by Baz Luhrmann.

Emma K. Rivera (Lighting Designer) is the technical director/resident lighting designer
at Brooklyn Arts Exchange/BAX and the technical director at Speyer Hall, University
Settlement. Previously, she’s worked with a number of wonderful artists and looks
forward to working with them again and with new artists in the future. She’s thrilled to
work with Ni’Ja and Kirsten again on A Meditation On Tongues.

“Whitson was majestic” - Brian Seibert, The New York Times, August 2014

“Ni’Ja’s pleasure in mobilizing power centers through explosive movement”
- Maura Donohue, Culture Bot, October 2016

“Ni’Ja’s work serves as a conduit to action.” - Maura Donohue, Hand Written Note (S), June 2016

“The ancestor energy of Ni’Ja’s workshop is a cocoon and a sheath.”
- Gabrielle Civil, Hand Written Note (S), July 2016

“The emotional stakes were incredibly high but completely authentic, and emerged
from a place of stark honesty. The composition flowed naturally and provocatively, witheach new image building upon the previous one.”
– Marya Warshaw, Founding and 
Executive Director, BAX on InfiniteBody