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

Vagabond Inventions and Renee Benson, Requiem for a Stranger - September 2020

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.

Ryuta Iwashita, 6がつのとおいからだ (Far Bodies in June) - June 2020

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

Ryuta Iwashita (they/them) lives and improvises as a movement/performance artist and facilitator/educator in New Orleans after living in Japan for 25 years. Their lexicon of movement derives from Martial Arts, Contact Improvisation, Butoh and their life being fluid between Japan and the USA. Their recent works have been showcased at Jacob’s Pillow, Seattle Dance Improv Festival, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, and iDance Japan Contact Improv Dance Festival. Their recent interest is to listen to uninteresting radio personalities. Learn more at cargocollective.com/ryuutaiwashita

Trailer: 6がつのとおいからだ (Far Bodies in June)
Performance: Ryuta Iwashita; Visual Curation: Zensuke Omi

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.