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Slowly Less and Less: A Performance Lecture by Ni’Ja Whitson
June 1 @ 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
A newly commissioned performance lecture by Ni’Ja Whitson, the culminating event in the year-long program “The Quick and the Dead,” focusing on the life and work of poet, educator, and activist, Audre Lorde (1934-1992). Following the performance, Whitson will be joined in conversation by poet Pamela Sneed, Cleopatra Acquaye-Reynolds, and Kade Cahe from The Audre Lorde Project.
Drawing particular inspiration from The Cancer Journals (1980), “Slowly Less and Less” stages a dialogue with Audre Lorde, through the interplay of movement, original text, and Lorde’s writing, creating a performative litany for survival. In this meditation, Whitson reflects on key texts by Lorde to develop a conversation around survival and death, cancer and loss, and silence and activism, drawing connections between body transformation and modes of survival. Beginning with a six-month reading and discussion group in all 2018 facilitated by OlaRonke Akinmowo of The Free Black Women’s Library, “The Quick and the Dead” continues through public programming in Spring 2019. “The Quick and the Dead” seeks to mobilize the creative and pedagogical potential of focused engagement with a single author through sustained reflection across a variety of public events and opportunities for cross-disciplinary encounters.
Ni’Ja Whitson (LA/NY) is “Bessie” Award winning, gender nonconforming/astral transmogrifying interdisciplinary artist and writer, referred to as “majestic” by The New York Times, and recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. Through a critical intersection of gender, sexuality, race, and spirit, they engage a nexus of transdisciplinary and African diasporic performance practices in sacred and conceptual performance. Whitson is a 2019 Creative Capital Awardee, 2018-2019 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow Candidate, 2018 MAP Fund recipient, and featured choreographer of the 2018 Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial. Additional cross-disciplinary residencies and fellowships include Watermill, Jerome/Camargo, Dance in Process (DiP) at Gibney, Hedgebrook Fellowship, LMCC Process Space, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Movement Research, Bogliasco Fellowship, with commissions including EMPAC, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, American Realness and Vision festivals, and ICA Philadelphia. Whitson received an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a second MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, receiving merit and artist awards at both. They are the founder/artistic director of The NWA Project and an assistant professor of experimental choreography at University of California at Riverside.
Cleopatra Acquaye-Reynolds (aka Cleo aka Cleopatra From The Bronx) is a Black Femmeboiant Gender Non-Conforming* Queer who was born, raised, and lived in The Bronx, New York for 28 years. As a first-generation born child of Ghanaian immigrants, education and access has always been a huge focus in Cleopatra’s life and she aims to make both priority issues in all areas of her life. Cleopatra hopes to collapse universes that hold our collective oppression and trauma in effort to make space for truth and new galaxies that build our values of resiliency and abundance. Cleopatra’s pronouns are She, Her, and Sir. She describes her facilitation persona as a Top Femme Daddx. When Cleopatra isn’t organizing, she can be found not finishing her Cosplay for the comic book convention that is two days away (Yes, there is always a comic book convention two days away). Cleopatra is Deputy Director of The Audre Lorde Project.