In an effort to foster the development of new performance work, the CAC invited three artist collaborators to utilize the CAC resources and space to further develop their artistic work during the month of August and September. An informal showing of new work will occur on Arts for Arts' Sake, on October 6th.
Raw Fruit is a collection of stories that reveal the essence of ancestral values which have been weaved into the cultural fabric of our lives. This work examines legacy, identity, socialization, unity and friction inside the Black family dynamic. We delve deep to expose the impact of race, class, gender and sexuality on maternal relationships as well as reveal how the retention of cultural values, morals and taboos have shaped our current existence. These influences, which have defined our beliefs and actions, are explored through experimental dance theater and textile art to illustrate lineage, retention and history.
As we celebrate the tricentennial of New Orleans, it important to reflect on the elements that have contributed to our unique traditions and multifaceted way of life. From crawfish boils to second lines, living room altars to junior daughters, and bread pudding to pecan pralines, these experiences, rituals and ancestral contributions have created a web of lineage connecting our present experiences with customs rooted in the past. We recognize and value what we have acquired, what we release, what we hold and what we will share with those who come after us.
The team of accomplished artists collaborating on this project have a diverse background in various styles of dance, theater, vocal music and visual art with a range of awards and recognitions including: featured Women in Dance, Dancing While Black Fellow, The Distillery CAC resident artist, Jacob’s Pillow scholarship recipient, Urban Bush Women’s Choreographic Center training and Summer Leadership Institute faculty, The Ailey School training, Bates Dance Festival Teacher Fellows and finalist for the 2018 international artist residency in Pennabilli, located in the picturesque Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever
Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever is a multidisciplinary performance inspired by Radio Haiti- Inter, Haiti’s first privately owned Kreyol-speaking radio station. Jean Dominique, agronomist turned journalist and Radio Haiti-Inter station owner was assassinated in 2000 leading to the eventual closing of the station in 2003. The title is derived from one of the myriad proverbs he used to describe the spirit of Haiti’s marginalized poor in the face of violence and oppression.
Developed by Haitian-American musician Leyla McCalla and director Kiyoko McCrae, the piece combines storytelling, video and audio recordings from the Radio Haiti archive housed at Duke University and is anchored by Leyla’s original compositions and arrangements of Haitian songs. We see Haiti through Leyla’s eyes as she grapples with the harsh political realities of its people and the journalists who fought to uplift their voices. Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever is commissioned by Duke Performances and will premiere at Duke Performances in 2020.
Leyla McCalla is a New York-born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, who sings in French, Haitian Creole and English, and plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty — it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary. Leyla’s debut album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, was named 2013’s Album of the Year by the London Sunday Times and Songlines magazine.
Kiyoko McCrae, director of Visible Productions and Consulting Group is a theater maker, filmmaker and producer. She recently co-directed and co-wrote The Stranger Disease with Goat in the Road Productions and directed the short documentary film, Artist in Exile. She is former Managing Director of Junebug Productions where she produced Gomela/to return, directed Lockdown and produced and co- directed short films, Come Home and Black Back. Kiyoko received her BFA in Theatre Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. www.kiyokomccrae.com
Vessels is a seven-woman harmonic meditation on the transcendental possibilities of song during the Middle Passage. Experienced within an interactive and acoustically rich sculptural environment that invokes those infamous ships, this ritual performance explores singing as a survival tool and asks, “What does freedom sound like in a space of confinement?” Vessels will premier in 2018 on a floating barge in New Orleans and then tour to East Coast port cities that were active during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Vessels is co-conceived/shaped by Rebecca Mwase and Ron Ragin. Rebecca is a Zimbabwean-American theater artist, creative consultant, producer, and cultural organizer. Ron writes, sings, and creates interdisciplinary performance work that integrates sound, text, and movement. Sculptor and set designer Jeff Becker will design the sculptural environment in which the performance will occur. The process is highly collaborative, drawing upon the artists’ backgrounds in song, dance, poetry, theater, and experimental performance.
Southern Crossings is made possible by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation (I³), a three year pilot project of the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (CAC), supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, designed to provide both the context and content for the expanding aesthetic landscape of interdisciplinary performance as practiced by artists whose projects are drawn from or inspired by the rich cultural traditions of the South. The CAC's I³ Southern Partners include Duke Performances, Fusebox, The Nasher Museum of Art, Oz Nashville, and Speed Art Museum.