Two dance faculty have been selected as part of a team of grantees for Dance/USA’s Engaging Dance Audiences program.
Associate Professors Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, co-artistic directors of Wideman/Davis Dance Company, are part of Alabama Dance Council’s “Community Forum Series,” which received the grant from Dance/USA. Alabama Dance Council was one of 21 organizations nationwide to receive an Engaging Dance Audiences grant. Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, awarded $1,112,000 in grants this year.
Wideman/Davis Dance is one of five ethnically diverse dance companies (representing African-American, Latina/o, Asian, Native American and Caucasian perspectives) who are part of ADC’s project. Davis explains that the mission of the performance initiative is to engage different regions of Alabama in a dialogue about awareness of the state’s cultural diversity. After a lengthy period of on-location research, each of the companies will premiere their respective works in 2020.
“We’re really interested in the whole history of Alabama as it relates to the African-American experience,” says Davis.
Wideman/Davis Dance has a history of creating dance works exploring Alabama culture. In 2005, at Auburn University, the then-nascent company premiered The Bends of Life, inspired by the famed African-American quilt makers of Gees Bend, Alabama. The work was created in conjunction with an exhibit of the historic quilts by the Whitney Museum, and later toured as part of Wideman/Davis’ repertory.
UofSC Provost Grant
Concurrent with their work on the Alabama Dance Council project, the two dance professors are also developing a new, interdisciplinary piece through support from a recently awarded University of SC Provost Grant. The grant is funding the creation of Migratuse Ataraxia, a new work that “will question what it means to perform an archive of black melancholia in an historic antebellum…space that only projects a romantic…white narrative while omitting the presence of the enslaved African.” The company is collaborating with visual/performance artist Michaela Pilar Brown, Bates College performance theorist Myron Beasley, Ph.D, and dramaturg Gina Kohler in devising the work, which is planned to include elements of movement, live art, sound and gastronomy.
“The deeper meaning for us is about trying to imagine what an antebellum space could be if we were to look at it in its entirety — not just as beautiful architecture and wonderful grounds and a place for weddings, but also a place of trauma,” Davis explains. “As we look at history, we animate aspects of it, romanticizing a white narrative. How can we animate other aspects of that history?”
The site-specific performance is planned to take place at a to-be-announced historic building in Columbia, SC, and is currently scheduled to premiere in Spring 2018.