About Performing Artist Residencies

The CAC's Performing Artist Residency program is a 2020 pilot initiative to offer time, space, resources, and professional development opportunities for performing artists in New Orleans. Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAC strives to be a vital resource for artists of all practices in our community during this difficult time.

Performing artist intensives will provide artists with access to rehearsal space in the theater, lighting, sound, and other technical resources and staff, enabling the development and staging of new and in-process work, through two-week intensives.

This program expands the CAC's Southern Crossings program that supported four artist ensembles over the past two years: Leyla McCalla and Kiyoko McCrae (Breaking The Thermometer to Hide the Fever), Kesha McKey/KM Dance Project (Raw Fruit), Rebecca Mwase and Ron Ragin (Vessels) and Renee Benson/Vagabond Inventions (Requiem for a Stranger).

2020 Performing Artists-In-Residence

re: FRAME Festival

re: FRAME intends to be a platform for individual choreographic initiatives that culminates in an annual festival in New Orleans, LA.  It aims to support process-oriented movement-based research practices and cultivate a less product driven arts eco- system. The cultural initiative was launched in 2019-20 with partnership and support from the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans and other local organizations.

re: FRAME supports:

  • Curious practitioners interested in how aesthetics, practice, society, and politics influence both their existence and movement research processes.
  • Practitioners with an interest in alternative systems and modes for developing and cultivating artistic community, exchange and sustainability. It is a quasi-festival for those interested in questioning, conversing, and experimenting with what it means to participate in a collective, self-organizing, artistic research community. 

re: FRAME Artists & Projects

An Animal Dance by Ann Glaviano

An animal dance motivated by nasty Dorothea Lasky poems, Anna Karina’s line dance in Band of Outsiders, hand-to-hand combat, and bright pink pump heels.

Artist Statement:

Since December 2018, I have been building out an evening-length work called an animal dance. Previously my dance-making had been focused on directing /co-creating ensemble work. My interest in solo work was piqued through extensive study with Deborah Hay, weirdo master of the solo form, who suggested I make an animal dance as a solo. Using this prompt, I began to think about the range of movement qualities that human animals have in their vernacular – violent gestures, tenderness, athleticism, coyness, raw sexuality. I am a femme cisgender woman who spends a lot of time thinking about misogyny (the banal and the profound), trauma, sexuality, and gender performance, including drag, and so this piece has been gradually incorporating these elements.  The dance occurs with no auditory accompaniment. I make the soundscape with my body. At the end I sing a spontaneous song of gratitude to my body upon the occasion of my survival. Learn more at https://annglaviano.com

A Little Bump in the Road by Jeremy Guyton

An intergenerational conversation between a woman born in Columbus, MS at the end of the Great Depression and her grandchild offers a magnanimous encounter with a little bump in the road as a meditation on the power of memory and its potential to guide us toward healing. 

Artist Statement:
A Little Bump in the Road, a choreo-poetic journey down a backcountry road in Mississippi, delves into my grandmother’s memory through a series of kitchen table conversations and fly-on-the-wall observations that occur during her ongoing recovery from a minor stroke she experienced in August 2019. This offering carves a memory space on multiple levels – personal, ancestral, communal – in which we all (audience, grandmother/legacy, grandchild/performer) journey toward healing and liberation, considering: the physical rebuilding  of strength for my grandmother and the aids and living adaptations that come with; the emotional and spiritual healing of our relationship during this time as I commit to seeing her for all the complexities of her humanness; and, the intergenerational reconciliation necessary as our cities burn and the holes in the histories we’ve been taught attempt to swallow us all. Incorporating poetic monologue, recorded interview excerpts, free//style choreographic exploration, an obstacle course, and a dash of laughter, this meditation focuses on the magnanimous potential of those little bumps in the road.  

6がつのとおいからだ (Far Bodies in June) by Ryuta Iwashita

Through a multi-cultural lens of intimacy and physics, multiple bodies within one individual examine their physical, social, emotional and conceptual distances.

Artist Statement:
There are multiple bodies in one individual, probably 6 feet apart from each other. One body may represent a teen-age transgender singer from the 60’s, one may represent the A-bombs from World War II, or one may represent a red light district in Tokyo. They all dance with each other in forced proximity while dancing in contact with the weight of events and memories. Who disruptively demolishes physical and social distance? Who is the perceiver of their emotional and conceptual distance? And who lends the 6th sense to these bodies? 


The CASSANDRA Project by Meryl Murman with Yanina Orellana

An investigation of primal and primordial desire, The CASSANDRA Project is a multi-media mash-up of dance, video, music, pop culture, and the ancient rituals of the dirty goddesses of female obscenity from Mesopotamia and Latin America.

Project Description:
The CASSANDRA Project examines pleasure, the erotic and female wisdom from ancient cultures in the wake of mass protests in the Middle East and Latin America demanding radical transformation of post-colonial power dynamics and gender-based shaming and censorship. A collaborative and cross-cultural process to build a solo dance, our research has focused on excavating embodied memories of sexuality and sexual urges in childhood; a period where many women first learn shame. Through this lens we examine current uprisings in the countries of our ancestors (Mexico and Lebanon) with ancient archetype and ritual. What if our ancestors could speak to us through our vaginas? What would they protest? Can we learn their wisdom through the pelvic floor? Central to our research has been working with female-identifying of all ages and backgrounds -including refugees and displaced - in Mexico, USA, the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe over the past two years in somatic art therapy-based workshops to build a cross cultural communal female conversation through our vaginas. In recent residencies, we are exploring this movement research using technology that censors the rate of the human heart beat in movement, paying particular attention to how the rate of the heart changes and reacts when under the stress of traumatic memories versus the tenderness of touch that stimulates female ANS (Autonomic Nervous System) neurovaginal response. We intend for this technology to allow the heart rate and somatic state of the performer determine/cue all technical production elements, and are exploring the potential for how this technology might further connect the soloist, Yanina Orellana, with the women who have participated in our workshops around the world in real-time performance; re-iterating conceptually and performatively how the female Voice is intrinsically corporeal and collective even in its diversity. Finally, we are invested in humor as a form of political resistance and feminism in dance. Weaving together the melodrama of telenovela, dirty albures with a feminist twist, and the bright colors of Mexico with dark Lebanese humor and its affinity towards absurdity, the performance moves rapidly through unexpected juxtapositions like the melodic scales and poly-rhythms of the Mediterranean and South America that mix in the original music composed and performed by New Orleans musicians. 


river, river, river by Shannon Stewart

“river, river, river” is a new solo work by Shannon Stewart that documents complex, traumatic, and transcendental relationships to place and belonging through choreographed text, movement, and video. 

Artist Statement:
Paralleling the tumultuous arc of the creative process, “river, river, river” simultaneously excavates my family’s history in the south, the nature of my parents' work at a nuclear waste cleanup site on Yakama Nations land, and the circuitous ways these things are woven into my experience as a contemporary dance artist. Performed as a spoken monologue on top of a choreographed movement solo, “river, river, river” wants to open new ways of understanding by moving fluidly from addressing bodily, personal, social, historical, and ecological content as we move between forms that are verbal, nonverbal, virtual and real. The choreography flows from gestural, to abstract, to demonstrations of habitual patterns and canonic dances I’ve learned from YouTube. The spoken/written/projected essay will travel through nonlinear snapshots of the places that have shaped me with fragments of images and information about what has shaped them. I’m collaborating with Japanese artist Naoto Heida to create the set and video design for “river, river, river.” Infrared motion sensors following my movement will chart the course through different kinds of projections. The motion of the video will mimic the experience of wearing VR goggles and much like the piece is slipping between the personal, historical, and systemic, the video will traverse through different kinds of visuals--e.g. projections of the text I’m speaking, landscapes I’m describing, and historical dance and art works I reference. Dramaturg Iris McCloughan is also part of the team helping to research and shape the work. 


The Graduates Rising

The Graduates, founded in 2012, is a New Orleans-based performing arts organization comprised of former members of the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW) Drama Club. Current ensemble members include: Taece Defillo, Carry Emerson, Jackie Hall, Ivy Matthis and Fox Rich. The Graduates and the LCIW Drama Club are co-directed by Kathy Randels of ArtSpot Productions and Ausettua AmorAmenkum of Kumbuka African Drum & Dance Collective and were initially co-produced by these two companies. Their performances focus on the experiences that women from Louisiana have when they interact with the prison system and are designed to move and motivate audiences to become active in helping to end mass incarceration in Louisiana. The Graduates Rising are Robert Rauschenberg Racial Justice Fellows and their work has been supported by Alternate ROOTS, The Mellon Foundation, and Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans.

 Life by the Gradautes

Life, a performance by The Graduates, was created to accompany The Life Quilt, a handbeaded quilt with the names of the 107 women serving life sentences in Louisiana in 2017.  The performance features four Graduates who were a part of The Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW) Drama Club: Taece Defillo, Carry Emerson, Fox Rich and Ivy Mathis—a juvenile lifer, whose name is on the quilt and who was released in 2019.  The performance is a combination of monologues, songs, dance, and motivational speaking.  Ivy shares her personal journey with a life sentence through dance and spoken word.  The other three Graduates have created pieces that honor some of the women whose names are on the quilt, and who are still serving their life sentences, including Gloria “Mama Glo” Williams, the woman in the state of Louisiana who is currently serving the longest sentence of any woman in our state at 50 years.  She has been approved by the pardon board for over a year and is awaiting the governor’s clemency signature.  The performance is 60 minutes and uses video, recorded sound and live musical accompaniment by New Orleans musician Zohar Israel.  Co-Directors Ausettua AmorAmenkum and Kathy Randels accompany the presentation and appear briefly in the performance as well.  

The work will be presented in the CAC's First Floor Gallery in front of The Life Quilt, which was included in the Per(sister) exhibition at the Newcomb Art Museum at Tulane in 2019 and toured to the Ford Foundation in New York.  

The culmination of The Graduates CAC Residency will be a new performance that will premiere in May.June 2021.  Combining pieces and insights that we gain through Sacred Wellness 360º; the performance will feature new Graduates who have been released in 2019-20 and new performances by current Graduates, addressing their thoughts, needs and advice for Louisiana on how to bring justice to our Criminal Legal System. 

Sacred Wellness 360° is a new  Graduates Program, in partnership with The Breath is Life Spa and Cynthia Baxter M.S.W., that supports decarceration.   Sacred Wellness 360º is directly aimed at allowing formerly incarcerated women to take back the control over their bodies and their mental and emotional selves. As part of our CAC Residency The Graduates will convene our first cohort of six formerly incarcerated women guided by social workers, holistic health practitioners, artists and other FIPs towards self-discovery amidst emotional, social or mental challenges.  Participation in the cohort will provide insight to participants' understanding as to how they function and what guides their choices in situations. It will become clearer to the participant that prison is where the intersectionality of racism and poor choices meet. Sacred Wellness 360º will also help participants identify where they are in their decarceration challenges. Participants will be connected to resources and identify challenges that cannot be resolved in the sessions provided. The ultimate goal is to promote self-awareness and healing. 

Vagabond Inventions

Requiem for a Stranger by Vagabond Inventions and Renee Benson

Requiem for a Stranger is an expansive work of music and movement-theater created by physical theater company Vagabond Inventions in collaboration with Singer-Composer Renee Benson. This episodic, ensemble-devised project explores the heartspace of grief - an emotion that mainstream American culture habitually avoids, but which currently overwhelms our daily life. Although initially conceived pre-pandemic, this project has met the moment of the Covid-19 crisis - and the way a recognizable present is transforming into a lost past. Drawing inspiration from the poetry of adrienne maree brown, Nikki Giovanni, Rainer Maria Rilke, and the intimate experiences of the creators, Requiem conjures a world of disorientation - a storm where all realities dissolve except love and absence. Between dynamic movement exploring disordered memory and attempts to delay time - wailing, rapping, and song tell the story of drowning in mythological rivers and calling to the ether in praise. Requiem for a Stranger is part of a larger series of community rituals, meditative film projects, and an online platform for storytelling and healing resources, slated to continue into 2021 and created in partnership with the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans African American Museum, and Mindy Milan of the Center for Mind Body Medicine.

Vagabond Inventions, directed by Jennifer Sargent, is an association of physical theater artists who share a language of ensemble-devised performance. The company’s original, highly physical productions explore worlds in disequilibrium: unmoored feminine identity at midlife; migrants waiting in an immigration office; social biases that survive even the apocalypse. VI co-produced the Definitive Figures FemFest in 2018 and has created seven shows and over a dozen short works that have performed in seven countries and in nationally respected venues including Detroit’s Sidewalk Festival; NACL Theatre in NY state, NYC’s Bushwick Starr and Chocolate Factory, and many others. VI’s dance-theater project Jitterbug and the Aftermath received a 2018 Classical Arts Award nomination for "Outstanding Dance Presentation (Short)". VI’s most recent touring production, A Kingdom, A Chasm, received a Creative Arts Network Journal Award for Visual Theater and was selected to be performed in December 2019 at the NPN National Conference. Learn more at vagabondinventions.com

Renee Benson is a New Orleans-based singer, songwriter, poet and composer. On the stage, her dynamic and rhythmically challenging phrasing calls her listeners to break away from the world of the overstimulated to the world of the living. As a singer (jazz, hip hop, soul, funk, gospel, reggae and more), she has been featured on TV, Radio and in film. She has performed at the Glastonbury Music Festival, as part of the Austrian entry for Eurovision, and at Vienna’s LifeBall. Renee is the lead voice for the experimental jazz and hip hop collective, "No Home For Johnny," labeled Vienna’s 2015 Popfest “highlight”. Off stage, Renee teaches at Banff Centre of the Arts on Faculty for the Indigenous Arts and freelances as the hip hop educational consultant for the Hamilton Education Program. With Austria’s Vogelberg Jazz Orchestra, Renee is the performing vocalist for a commissioned original experimental opera she co-created with composer Vincent Pongracz.

Requiem for a Stranger is supported by Alternate Roots, the Network of Ensemble Theaters, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation.

Learn More

The CAC's 2020-2021 artist residency activities are still being finalized -- please watch this space for updates in the coming months for a schedule of events. For more information about artist residencies at the CAC, please contact us at info@cacno.org.