American Realness

Reggie Wilson / Fist & Heel Performance Group

…they stood shaking while others began to shout

Co-Presented by Danspace Project and Gibney

Monday, January 7, 8:00pm
Tuesday, January 8, 8:00pm
Thursday, January 10, 8:00pm
Friday, January 11, 8:00pm
Saturday, January 12, 8:00pm

80 minutes

Danspace Project
131 East 10th Street

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…they stood shaking while others began to shout is a dynamic tapestry that recalls the past into the present moment.

This work is influenced by Wilson’s ongoing research related to Ring Shouts and traditional American Baptist, Trinidad and Tobagonian Spiritual Baptist, and Shaker praise songs. Major inspirations are the Black Shakers, particularly prominent Shaker Eldress, Mother Rebecca Cox Jackson; the Ibeji, an orisha (god) of the Yoruba religion that is represented by twins; the challenges of duets and pairing; and the 1995 work, The Littlest Baptist – Wilson’s 1st attempt at incorporating his field research of Black shout traditions into contemporary experimental performative theater.

…they stood shaking while others began to shout was commissioned for and premiered on the occasion of Reggie Wilson-curated Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance (Platform 2018) at Danspace Project. Performances for American Realness 2019 are Co-Presented by Danspace Project and Gibney.

Photo by Ian Douglas

coming soon…

Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group is a Brooklyn-based dance company that investigates the intersections of cultural anthropology and movement practices and believes in the potential of the body as a valid means for knowing. Its performance work is a continued manifestation of the rhythm languages of the body provoked by the spiritual and the mundane traditions of Africa and its Diaspora, including the Blues, Slave and Gospel idioms. The group has received support from major foundations and corporations and has performed at notable venues in the United States and abroad.

Reggie Wilson (Executive and Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performer) founded his company, Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group, in 1989. Wilson draws from the cultures of Africans in the Americas and combines them with post-modern elements and his own personal movement style to create what he often calls “post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances.”

His work has been presented nationally and internationally at venues such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York Live Arts, and Summerstage (NYC), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (Lee, MA), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), UCLA Live, and Redcat (Los Angeles), VSA NM (New Mexico), Myrna Loy (Helena, MT), The Flynn (Burlington, VT), Contemporary Arts Center (New Orleans), Dance Umbrella (Austin, TX), Linkfest and Festival e’Nkundleni (Zimbabwe), Dance Factory (South Africa), Danças na Cidade (Portugal), Festival Kaay Fecc (Senegal), The Politics of Ecstasy, and Tanzkongress 2013 (Germany).

Wilson is a graduate of New York University, Tisch School of the Arts (1988, Larry Rhodes, Chair). He has studied composition and been mentored by Phyllis Lamhut; Performed and toured with Ohad Naharin before forming Fist and Heel. He has lectured, taught and conducted workshops and community projects throughout the US, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. He has traveled extensively: to the Mississippi Delta to research secular and religious aspects of life there; to Trinidad and Tobago to research the Spiritual Baptists and the Shangoists; and also, to Southern, Central, West and East Africa to work with dance/performance groups as well as diverse religious communities. He has served as visiting faculty at several universities including Yale, Princeton and Wesleyan. Mr. Wilson is the recipient of the Minnesota Dance Alliance’s McKnight National Fellowship (2000-2001). Wilson is also a 2002 BESSIE-New York Dance and Performance Award recipient for his work The Tie-tongued Goat and the Lightning Bug Who Tried to Put Her Foot Down and a 2002 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. He has been an artist advisor for the National Dance Project and Board Member of Dance Theater Workshop. In recognition of his creative contributions to the field, Mr. Wilson was named a 2009 United States Artists Prudential Fellow and is a 2009 recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in Dance. His evening-length work The Good Dance–dakar/brooklyn had its World premiere at the Walker Art Center and NY premiere on the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2009 Next Wave Festival. In 2012, New York Live Arts presented a concert of selected Wilson works, theRevisitation, to critical acclaim and the same year he was named a Wesleyan University’s Creative Campus Fellow, received the 2012 Joyce Foundation Award for his new work Moses(es), and was named a Doris Duke Performing Artist. Moses(es) premiered in 2013 and his recent work CITIZEN premiered in 2016, both on BAM’s Next Wave Festival; both works continue to tour. Wilson was curator of Danspace Project’s Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance (Platform 2018) and created the commissioned work “…they stood shaking while others began to shout” specifically for the space at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. His newest work in creation is titled POWER.

Jonathan Belcher (Lighting Design and Technical Director) was born in Rochester, NY and now lives in Brooklyn. He is Lighting Director, Set Designer and Studio Manager for City University of New York Television. Previously, he was resident Lighting Designer at the Kitchen, The Harkness Dance Festival 2001, The University of Michigan Musical Society, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Dance Theater Workshop and The Yard. Jonathan’s career has most recently been distinguished with a Bessie Award winning performance of Exhausting Love at Danspace Project by Luciana Achugar; One of 3 Lighting Designers featured in the 2009 New York Times article by Roslyn Sulcas entitled Lighting Designers Illuminate Ballet; a Bessie Award; and designing a number of projects with Amanda Loulaki, Bill Young, Luciana Achugar, Blk Market Membership, Dean Moss, Maria Hassabi, Jill Sigman, Jeremy Wade, Sara Michelson and most notably Mr. Reggie Wilson. Mr. Belcher’s guiding principal in lighting design is, “look at things differently, if for no other reason than it’s a lot more fun that way.”

Adrienne McDonald (Late costume designer) born in Atlanta raised in Washington, DC. She began her arts journey studying fashion design at the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts and attended college at the Art Institute of Chicago (majoring in textile design), where she along with fellow students launched Gallerie Garb. She relocated to New York with dreams of creating clothing for entertainers. Those dreams were realized with work done for Maya Angelou, Bill Cosby, Judith Jamison and Prince. When she began collaborating on theatrical productions, Adrienne would create miniature costumes rather than sketch out her ideas. The hand-made miniatures were called “Urban Faeries”; they are now collectibles and exhibited as works of art. Fist and Heel is thankful to have worked with Miss Adrienne.

Enver Chakartash (Costume Designer) is a costume designer and stylist for theatre and film. He is a company member of The Wooster Group where he has designed costumes for Early Shaker Spirituals and Early Plays (directed by Richard Maxwell). In addition, Enver is a frequent collaborator with Tina Satter’s Half Straddle. With Half Straddle credits include costume design for Ghost Rings, Ancient Lives, House of Dance and Seagull (Thinking of You). Enver most recently designed costumes for Tony Oursler’s 5D feature film, Imponderable, currently screening at MoMA, New York. With Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company he designed costumes for Straight White Men, presented at The Public, and the short film; A Meaning Full Life, screened at BAM.

“Mr. Wilson, 50, who grew up in Milwaukee and founded the company Fist & Heel Performance Group in 1989, has long explored spiritual traditions in his own work, particularly within African and African-American cultures. He said his dances are guided by two lines of inquiry: “What is the relationship between postmodern dance and African diasporic culture? And what is the relationship between Protestant Christianity and African diasporic religions? Even if the piece seems like it has nothing to do with either of those, they creep back in there.”
– Siobhan Burke, The New York Times

“With a blend of postmodern and black aesthetics, Reggie Wilson’s work explores connections between secular and spiritual cultures of the African diaspora in the Americas. Audiences are drawn to his unique synergy of formal rigor, playfulness and depth.”
– Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Dance Magazine