Propelled Animals’ “SWITCH SIGNAL”
Friday, September 24
Kelly Strayhorn Theater | 5941 Penn Ave.
Pay What Makes You Happy!
Commissioned by Kelly Strayhorn Theater, SWITCH SIGNAL is a site-responsive film rooted in the technologies of imagination and mindfulness taught by Pittsburgh’s beloved Mister Rogers. The film was shot on location at Kelly Strayhorn Theater and throughout Pittsburgh with moments in The Hill District and at the Carrie Furnaces in June 2021.Conjuring the absent presence of community during the global pandemic, this work is about listening and includes movement, marches, choreographies, music, and rites as a love letter to Pittsburgh.
Propelled Animals are 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. The creative team includes: Esther Baker-Tarpaga (Philadelphia), Barber (Detroit), Heidi Wiren Bartlett (Pittsburgh), Raquel Monroe (Chicago), and Courtney Jones (Boca Raton).
This project is made possible with support from The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and by the National Performance Network’s Artist Engagement Fund.
Photo by Dan Lampmann
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Esther Baker-Tarpaga (MA, MFA UCLA) is a choreographer, performance artist, and a co-founding member of Propelled Animals, an interdisciplinary arts and social justice collective, and recent recipients of a MAP Fund, and USAI grant. She is co-founder of National Dance Project awarded Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. She is interested in how art is a tool for transformation and a path to engage anti-racism and climate justice actions. She co-organizes groups of artists for projects that are multidisciplinary, site-responsive, and collectively derived; aiming for an ethic of shared leadership and decolonizing practices. She recently performed at Chicago Takes 10, Trade School Philadelphia, The Chicago Architecture Biennale, ArtYard, No New Idols Festival in Riga, Latvia, The Englert Theatre Iowa City, and BAAD Bronx. She was an AIR at Marin Headlands, a recipient of a NY Live Arts Suitcase Fund, NY Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, Grant Wood Fellow, and a Cultural Envoy in Guinea, Botswana, and South Africa. She currently teaches part-time at Temple University and co-facilitates with WhatsUp?! Pittsburgh, an anti-racism group. She grew up in the foothills of Arapaho/Cheyenne/Ute/Fort Collins, Colorado and lives in Lenapehoking/Philadelphia with her family.
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 a filmmaker, sculptor, and performance artist from the Great Plains. Her work is concerned with the portrayal, oppression, and subversive existence of women in America today. She sees her body as an object of power and vulnerability and she sees Nature and its processes the same way. Together these inspire a practice that illuminates the overlooked and forgotten. Whether creating laborious action or still objects, she blurs the line between public and private; deconstructing notions of gender, race, and corporeality. She currently lives and works in Pittsburgh PA, is an Artist & Designer at Carnegie Mellon University and Max Kade Fellow at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. Selected exhibitions include: Grace Exhibition Space (Brooklyn, NY), Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA), Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art and PROJECT PROJECT (Omaha, NE), DFRL8R (Chicago, IL), and the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art (Iowa City, IA). She has been a visiting artist at Iowa State University (Ames, IA), Lafayette College (Easton, PA), Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA), and Carnegie Mellon University Qatar (Doha, Qatar).
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 journals and anthologies on race, sexuality, dance and popular culture. She is completing a monograph analyzing the intersections of Black feminism and Black liberation by Black female cultural producers in popular culture and the Black public sphere. As a maker and performer, Monroe is a member of the interdisciplinary arts collective the Propelled Animals. Monroe is the Co-Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and an Associate Professor in Dance at Columbia College Chicago. She is a founding board member of the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance.
The newest directions in 21st Century trumpet performance are being explored and defined by Courtney D. Jones (D.M.A., UCLA) an award-winning Bach 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. An artist who transcends stylistic boundaries, Courtney has performed as soloist with classical ensembles, orchestras, and jazz bands throughout the United States and internationally. He has won multiple solo awards and accolades through regional and national trumpet competitions. Jones is currently the Assistant Professor of Trumpet & Artistic Director of Jazz and Chamber Ensembles at Florida Atlantic University.