Artists Around the World
Thursday, August 13, 2:00pm
@KSTheater on Instagram Live!
KST Senior Producer Ben Pryor takes to Instagram Live for conversations with artists in Pittsburgh, throughout the US and around the world. On Thursday, August 13, Pryor will be joined by, award-winning performer, choreographer, teacher, and organizer, Keith Hennessy. They will connect on the impact of COVID-19 and adapting to working in the arts through a pandemic.
Checking In is a part of KST Global Stream, KST’s COVID-19 responsive online programming initiative.
From June through August, 2020, Checking In will move to a monthly rotation with other KST Global Stream programming.
Check back soon for more details on Checking In guests for the summer!
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Staycee Pearl (Guest – Thursday, April 7) is the co-artistic director of PearlArts Studios and STAYCEE PEARL dance project & Soy Sos (SPdp&SS), where she creates artful experiences through dance-centered multimedia works in collaboration with her husband and artistic collaborator, Herman Pearl. Staycee received her initial dance training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. In 2010, SPdp&SS debuted at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, and served as resident dance company for the theater for three years. Staycee and husband/creative partner Herman Pearl proudly opened their dance/art/sound space, PearlArts Studios, in April of 2012. Since then the duo has produced several works including ..on being…, OCTAVIA, and FLOWERZ. Staycee is passionate about sharing resources and creating opportunities for the arts community by initiating project-generating programs including the Charrette Series, the In The Studio Series, and the PearlDiving Movement Residency.
Ni’Ja Whitson (Guest – Thursday, April 16) (NY/LA) is a Queer Nonbinary multidisciplinary artist, Creative Capital and “Bessie” Awardee, wound and word worker, referred to as “majestic” by The New York Times, and recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. They engage transdisciplinarity through a critical intersection of the sacred and conceptual in Black, Queer, and Trans embodiedness, architectures, science, and spirit. Whitson is an 18th St. Artist in Residence (Los Angeles), 2020 Center for Performance Research artist in residence, 2018 MAP Fund awardee, featured choreographer of the 2018 CCA Biennial, 2018-2020 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow, and invited presenter at the 2019 Tanzkongress international festival. Residencies and fellowships include Jerome/Camargo, Dance in Process at Gibney, Hedgebrook, Movement Research, Bogliasco Fellowship with commissions including St. Mark’s Church at Danspace, American Realness and Vision festivals, ICA Philadelphia. Their award-winning practice extends to choreography and directing in conventional and experimental theatre and performance with recent commissions from Yale Dance Lab, Spoleto Festival (Omar composed by Rhiannon Giddens, directed by Charlotte Brathwaite), EMPAC, and New York Live Ideas Festival. 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 a sought-after speaker, presenter, masterclass facilitator and conversationalist whose offerings have been shared among notable institutions and arts organizations: Princeton, Cornell, LAX Festival, Movement Research, 2020 keynote of the Collegium for African Diasporic Dance conference. nijawhitson.com
Perel (Guest – Thursday, April 23) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is centered on disability and queerness as they relate to care, consent, sexuality, and personal and historic trauma. Utilizing choreography to examine power exchange between the artist and audience, “Perel is a master at timing, of tension, relief, and intimacy while creating a space of learning and unlearning.” (Victoria DeJaco, Spike Magazine). Their recent work, Life (Un)Worthy of Life: A Queer, Dis/Crip Talkshow premiered at No Limits, a disability centered festival in Berlin, DE. The artist‘s previous work, Pain Threshold, was presented at the American Realness Festival in New York in 2019, and has toured to Sophiensaele Theater, Berlin, and the Leopold Museum, Vienna as part of Impulstanz. Perel has received numerous residencies, commissions, and awards, most recently the Beth Silverman-Yam Award for Social Justice at Gibney Dance, and the first International Artist in Residence for Disabled Dance Artists at Sophiensaele. Perel was a selected disabled choreographer for Choreo-Lab, a pilot program of the integrated dance company, AXIS Dance. They are a Dance In Process Artist in Residence at Gibney Dance, and a Mertz-Gilmore Artist in Residence at Movement Research, NYC. Notable previous commissions have been presented at Abrons Art Center for American Realness 2018, The Chocolate Factory Theater, co-presented with the New York International Queer Performance Festival, Movement Research at the Judson Church, at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts NYC, and for the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Chicago Humanities Festival.
Bekezela Mguni (Guest – Thursday, May 7) is a queer Trinidadian artist, librarian, and educator. She has over 15 years of community organizing experience in the Reproductive Justice movement and holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. Bekezela participated in the first Librarians and Archivists with Palestine delegation in June of 2013. She completed her first micro-residency at the Pittsburgh creative hub Boom Concepts and was featured in the 2015 Open Engagement Conference. She was a 2015-2016 member of the Penn Ave Creative Accelerator Program with the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and launched the Black Unicorn Library and Archive Project. The Black Unicorn Project is a Black feminist community library and archive. She also served as the 2016 Sophia Smith Archive Activist-in-Residence
Adil Mansoor (Guest – Thursday, May 14) is a theatre director and educator based in Pittsburgh, PA. He is recovering from the Western Canon. He reads the Canon as an archive of white, patriarchal power and fear. He is working on original projects deconstructing Tennesse Williams’ The Glass Menagerie as a manifesto on gay male misogyny and unpacking the Cyclops story in The Odyssey as colonial justification for invading and erasing entire civilizations. His upcoming solo lecture-performance, Amm(i)gone, adapts Sophocles’s Antigone as an apology to and from his mother. As a queer-identifying, Muslim-raised, immigrant in America, understanding and disrupting the Canon provides a survival tactic. In relationship to the Canon, Adil explores theater as a symptom of, and an antidote to, legacies of oppression.
Adil also directs new and contemporary plays, primarily by queer folks and people of color, to disrupt dominant narratives. As a founding member of Pittsburgh’s Hatch Arts Collective, he has directed all their projects including Chickens in the Yard by Paul Kruse and Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Other directing projects include The River by Jez Butterworth (Quantum Theatre), Desdemona’s Child by Caridad Svich (Carnegie Mellon), and Popularity Coach by Brian Guehring (The Rose in Omaha).
Adil has developed and directed new work through NYU, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, and Kelly Strayhorn Theater. As an educator, Adil has worked with Middlebury College in Vermont, The Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Mozilla Fest in London, and many others. He was the Artistic Director for Dreams of Hope, an LGBTQA+ youth arts organization in Pittsburgh for over 5 years. He is an alumnus of DirectorsLabChicago and was the inaugural director with Quantum Theatre’s Gerri Kay New Voices program. Adil received his MFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University. adilmansoor.com
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (Guest – Thursday, May 21) is a Nigerian American performance artist, poet, and curator originally from Detroit, MI. His creative practice draws from Black study and queer theories of the body, weaving together visual performance, lecture, ritual, and spiritual practice. Recent awards include a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Choreography, 2019 NPN Development Fund Award, 2019-21 Movement Research Artist in Residence, 2018-20 Live Feed Artist at New York Live Arts, 2017-19 Princeton Arts Fellow, 2019 Red Bull Writing Fellow, 2017 MAP Fund recipient, and a 2017 Cave Canem Poetry Fellow. His works have toured internationally to South Africa, Europe, Canada, and throughout the US appearing in festivals and venues such as The Centre for the Less Good Idea (Johannesburg), Fusebox Festival (Austin), PICA | Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Tanz im August (Berlin), Moving in November (Finland), Within Practice (Sweden),TakeMeSomewhere (UK), Brighton Festival (UK), Oslo Teaterfestival (Norway), and Zürich MOVES! (Switzerland) among others. He is the author of two chapbooks: Animal in Cyberspace and Notes on An Urban Killfloor. His poems and essays have been included in The American Poetry Review, The Dunes Review, The Broad Street Review, among others. Season 1 of his interview-based podcast, American Chameleon can be found on all podcast platforms. Visit jaamil.com or follow @jaamilkosoko on Instagram for more information.
Ishmael Houston-Jones (Guest – Thursday, May 28) is choreographer, author, performer, teacher, and curator. His improvised dance and text work has been performed in New York, across the US, and in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Latin America. Drawn to collaboration as a way to move beyond boundaries and the known, Houston-Jones celebrates the political aspect of cooperation. He and Fred Holland shared a 1984 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Cowboys, Dreams and Ladders, which reintroduced the erased narrative of the Black cowboy back into the mythology of the American west. He was awarded his second “Bessie” Award for the 2010 revival of THEM, his 1985/86 collaboration with writer Dennis Cooper and composer Chris Cochrane. In 2017 he received a third “Bessie” for Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other Works by John Bernd. As an author Houston-Jones’ essays, fiction, interviews, and performance texts have been published in several anthologies. His work has also appeared in the magazines: PAJ, Movement Research Performance Journal, Bomb, and Contact Quarterly. His first book, Fat and Other Stories was published in 2018 by Yonkers International Press. Houston-Jones curated Platform 2012: Parallels which focused on choreographers from the African diaspora and postmodernism and co-curated with Will Rawls Platform 2016: Lost & Found, dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, then and now. He has received a 2016 Herb Alpert, a 2015 Doris Duke Impact and a 2013 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Artists Awards.
“I am a choreographer and performer based between Philadelphia and New York City who grew up dancing around the living room and at parties with my siblings and cousins. My early exposure to concert dance was through African dance and capoeira performances on California college campuses where my Pan-Africanist parents studied and worked, but I did not start “formal” dance training until college with Umfundalai, Kariamu Welsh’s contemporary African dance technique. My work continues to be influenced by various sources, including my foundations in those living rooms and parties, my early technical training in contemporary African dance, my continued study of contemporary dance and performance, my movement trainings with dancer and anatomist Irene Dowd around anatomy and proprioception, my sociological research of and technical training in J-sette performance with Donte Beacham. Through my artistic work, I strive to engage in and further dialogues with Black queer folks, create lovingly agitating performance work that recognizes History as only one option for the contextualization of the present, and continue to imagine options for artists’ economic and emotional sustainability.
I produce dance and performance work independently, as well as in collaboration with idiosynCrazy productions, a company I founded in 2008 and now co-direct with Shannon Murphy. Most recently, the company serves as a resource to produce public dialogues around the integrations of art into society, and the social responsibility of the artist. Collaboration is often essential for my work, and for the past several years I have worked collaboratively with J-Sette artist Jermone Donte Beacham on a series of visual and performance works called Let ‘im Move You. Previously, I have danced with Marianela Boán, Silvana Cardell, devynn emory, Emmanuelle Hunyh, Tania Isaac, Kun- Yang Lin, C. Kemal Nance, Marissa Perel, Leah Stein, Keith Thompson, Kate Watson-Wallace, Reggie Wilson, Jesse Zaritt, and Kariamu Welsh (as a member of Kariamu & Company). As a performer, I also collaborate with Merián Soto. From 2009-2018, I was an Assistant Professor of Dance at Swarthmore College.
I have performed my work in various cities around the US and in Europe, and I have received various awards including: a 2010-2011 Live Arts Brewery Fellowship (Philadelphia), 2010-2012 and 2017 annual Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Performance Grants, a 2011-2013 Community Education Center Residency Fellowship (Philadelphia), a 2012 Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Fellowship (Philadelphia), a 2013 NRW Tanzrecherche Fellowship (Germany), a 2013 New York Live Arts Studio Series residency with Jesse Zaritt (NYC), a 2016 Independence Fellowship (Philadelphia), a 2016 18th Street Arts Center creative residency (Santa Monica), a 2017 Rocky Dance Award (Philadelphia), a 2017 Sacatar Residency Fellowship (Bahia, Brazil), a 2017 MAP Fund award with Jermone Donte Beacham, a 2017 NEFA National Dance Project Production Grant with Jermone Donte Beacham, a 2018 MANCC residency, three Swarthmore College Cooper Foundation grants for presenting other artists (Swarthmore, PA).” –Jumatatu Poe (Guest Thursday, June 18)
Keith Hennessy (Guest Thursday August 13) is a dancer, writer, choreographer, activist, performer, and ritualist. Rooting in San Francisco since the mid-1980s, Hennessy’s work is interdisciplinary and experimental, motivated by anti-racist and decolonial practices. Prioritizing collaboration and improvisation the history of Keith’s work is a history of queer kinship: friends, partners, collectives, frictions, negotiations, and love. Since 2000, he has performed in 70+ cities and 24 countries producing over 19 full-length premieres and countless shorter works performing in spaces ranging from punk anarchist squats to fancy European theaters, from museums to streets and beaches. He has been published in academic journals, newspapers, books, and anarchist zines. Hennessy has been recognized with awards including: Guggenheim, Alpert/MacDowell, USArtist, NY Bessie, and multiple Isadora Duncan Dance awards. Hennessy was a member of Sara Shelton Mann’s legendary Contraband (85-94), as well as the collaborative performance companies CORE (95-98) and the French circus Cahin-caha (98-02). Hennessy is a co-founder of CounterPulse (formerly 848 Community Space), a thriving performance space in San Francisco. In 2000, Hennessy founded Circo Zero and continues to serve as the organization’s Artistic Director. He earned an MFA and PhD from University of California, Davis.