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Artist Talk with Propelled Animals

KST Presents

Friday, May 15, 5:00pm
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Join us on Zoom for an Artist Talk with the members of the Propelled Animals collective. Propelled Animals was scheduled to have a 14-day residency including performances of their work TRANSMISSION with Kelly Strayhorn Theater for the 2020 edition of the newMoves Contemporary Dance Festival. Instead we check in with the artists to get to know them as individual artists and members of their collective. KST is planning to work with Propelled Animals to reschedule their engagement for the future. More on TRANSMISSION below.

TRANSMISSION is a site adaptive work centered on art as social action and ritual as performance. Through kinesthetic, sonic, visual, and aural experiences the collective, Propelled Animals, offers a restorative space to counter traumas inflicted by systemic injustice. Propelled Animals is a collective of artists, dancers, scholars, musicians, and designers, bringing communities together for performances that honor nature, foreground radical tenderness, and deliver strategies for self-empowerment. Propelled Animals creative team includes: Esther Baker-Tarpaga (Philadelphia), Barber (Detroit), Heidi Wiren Bartlett (Pittsburgh), Papa (Ouagadougou), Dr. Courtney Jones (Boca Raton), and Dr. Raquel Monroe (Chicago).

TRANSMISSION is made possible with support from The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Kelly Strayhorn Theater is a Partner of the National Performance Network (NPN). This project is made possible in part by support from the NPN Artist Engagement Fund. Major contributors include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information visit

Photo by Karla Conrad.





Esther Baker-Tarpaga (MA, MFA UCLA) is a performance artist and choreographer. She co-directs Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, a transnational performance company based in Burkina Faso and Philadelphia. Her performance work has recently toured to The Englert Theatre Iowa City, Tamadia Arts Festival France, Earthdance MA, Bali Spirit Festival Ubud, Earthdance Mass, InOut Festival Bobo Dioulasso, CECUT Tijuana, El Lechon Illustrado Guanajato, LabBodies LighCity Baltimore, The Wassaic Festival NY, The Englert Theatre Iowa City, BAAD!ASS Women’s Festival Bronx, Panapoly NY, and Kelly Strayhorn Theatre Pittsburgh. Her dance films have screened internationally and she is a published scholar. She has taught at Princeton, Temple, University of the Arts, The Ohio State University, and was a Grant Wood Fellow at University of Iowa. She is a member of the International Interdisciplinary Artist Consortium, toured with David Rousseve/REALITY, and collaborated with Guillermo Gomez-Pea/La Pocha Nostra. An Artist in Residence at Marin Headlands in 2013, she is also a recipient of a NY Live Arts Suitcase Fund, BETHA Grant, and was a US Cultural Envoy in Guinea, Botswana, and South Africa. She is a member of Philly Dance for Justice and co-founder of Meredith School Anti-Racist Group.

Barber (MA, MFA, University of Iowa) recently graduated Cum Laude from University of Iowa. Barber uses interdisciplinary art practices to articulate various testimonies within and surrounding Black America. His most recent awards include a Stanley Grant from the University of Iowa and Alonzo Davis Award from Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Selected exhibitions include but are not limited to Englert Theatre (Iowa City, IA), Museum of Science (Chicago, IL), Public Artwork on Atlanta BeltLine (Atlanta, GA), Rialto Theatre (Atlanta, GA), Lexington Theatre (Kentucky), Mason Murer Gallery (Atlanta, GA), Gallery 4731 (Detroit, MI), Levitt Gallery, (Iowa City, IA), Ignition Project Space (Chicago, IL). Barber is currently an artist-in-residence at the Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NE.

Heidi Wiren Bartlett (MA, MFA, University of Iowa) is an interdisciplinary performance artist from the Great Plains. Her work is concerned with the portrayal, oppression and subversive existence of women in America today. She received an Iowa Arts Council Project Grant to support this project and has recently been nominated for the United States Artists (USA) Fellowship. After receiving her MFA in 2015, her work has been exhibited at Grace Exhibition Space and Panapoly Performance Space (Brooklyn, NY), Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA), Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art and PROJECT PROJECT (Omaha, NE), DFRL8R and Ignition Project Space (Chicago, IL), Arts + Literature Laboratory (Madison, WI), Yellow Door Gallery and Moberg Gallery (Des Moines, IA). She has been a visiting artist at Concordia University (Seward, NE), Iowa State University (Ames, IA), Lafayette College (Easton, PA) and Carnegie Mellon Univerity Qatar (Doha, Qatar). Bartlett is currently an instructor and Art & Creative Director at Carnegie Mellon University.

Raquel Monroe (Ph.D., UCLA) is an interdisciplinary performance scholar, and artist, whose research interests include black social dance, black feminisms, and popular culture. Monroe’s scholarship appears in the Journal of Pan-African Studies, and in the edited volumes Queer Dance, solo/black/woman: Performing Black Feminisms, and The Oxford Handbook: Dance and the Popular Screen. She is completing a manuscript that investigates how black feminist politics emerge through the dancing bodies of black female cultural producers in popular culture. In 2015 Monroe received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Columbia College Chicago, where she is an Associate Professor in dance.

Papa is a master musician born in a griot family in Burkina Faso. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, he was the lead Djembé drummer and composer for the national ballet of Burkina Faso and is a permanent faculty member at EDIT in Ouagadougou. He is a master Jeli Ngoni player, a traditional guitar from West Africa. He is the founder and artistic director of the very acclaimed Kundé Blues band. He has recorded and toured with Smarty, Dafra Kura, Rido Bayonne, Bil Aka Kora, Alif Naaba, Abdoulaye Diabaté, Issouf Kienou, and Awa Melone and others. He is currently touring with Dafra Kura and Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project.

The newest directions in 21st Century trumpet performance are being explored and defined by Courtney D. Jones (Ph.D., UCLA) , an award-winning Yamaha solo performing and recording artist who has also emerged as a leading figure in contemporary performance and pedagogy, conducting, and service to inner-city youth through music outreach programs. While transcending stylistic boundaries, Courtney completed his doctorate and taught at UCLA, served as Visiting Professor of Trumpet at the University of Iowa, Lecturer at Columbus State University, and is currently the Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Artistic Director of the Jazz Ensemble at Florida Atlantic University.