I walked out of To Being feeling vulnerable to the world. Ejected from the bright white room into the unfamiliar streets of Long Island City, into a night balanced at the meeting point of two seasons, I found myself wondering how I was going to write about this. The whole performance was improvised, nonstop, and I had taken no notes. I felt lonely, let loose too soon.
In early September, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory curated a night of experimental dance at the Center for Performance Research (CPR) called Not Not Back-To-School. Part of the evening featured seasoned choreographer and performer Mariana Valencia and her newest work, So Far So Much, a self-described ethnographic experiment. As part of a Travel and Study grant from the Jerome Foundation, Valencia spent this past summer in Mexico City immersed in the cumbia sonidera subcultural street-dancing tradition.
On the brink of the end of paper, I was attracted to the idea of a book that cant forget it has a body, Jonathan Safran Foer said in a New York Times interview about his art book, Tree of Codes, the inspiration for the dance theater collaboration recently presented at the Park Avenue Armory. Foers book reduces and remakes Bruno Schulzs The Street of Crocodiles (Tree of Codes is a trimmed version of the title) by literally excising words, leaving gaps, and transforming the texts meaning.
Performer, choreographer, and scholar Thomas F. DeFrantz and dance artist niv Acosta have co-curated a weekend of performances, screenings, discussions, a dance party, and even a brunch, around the themes of “Afrofuturism and utopian/dystopian visions of a queer Black tomorrow” at JACK in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. The series, titled “afroFUTUREqu##r”and produced by Shireen Dickson, includes performances by Grisha Coleman, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Niall Jones, Eto Otitigbe, Brother(hood) Dance!, Christina Blue & Adam Boothman, and othersincluding the curators themselves. Before the festival, Tara Aisha Willis spent some time chatting with DeFrantz and Acosta about their curatorial process, their take on queer Afrofuturism, and the potency of performance.