A 2018 Union Street Dance Mertz-Gilmore Late Stage Creative Stipend Recipient
Photo: Rakia Seaborn & Sean Billy Kizy
Slated for an April 2020 world premiere at JACK in Brooklyn, NY, “A Ruin” chronicles the saga of three, heartbroken black women turned fatalistic scribes tasked with rewriting America after a fiery apocalypse. Inspired by Giselle's madness, The Negro Motorist Green Book & ancient relics, we’ve crafted a surrealist, wasteland by inverting, decaying and embodying both written and spoken words. If language is world-shaping, “A Ruin” asks “What’s on the other side of English?” Through performing writing and recitation of incantations for survival, what emerges is an entirely new way of speaking/feeling/being American that is forged in softness and safety.
In “A Ruin,” I interrogate my relationship with language as a world-building tool in the face of apocalyptic, destruction. Spoken text is mined from diaries of travel writings across America. These writings serve as the building blocks on which to craft a new nation. The physicalization of this future comes in the form guttural sputtering, writing and remembering. As in Adolphe Adam’s Giselle, I am specifically fascinated by the geometric formations, regionalism and tragic, virgin-floating-on-air tropes that characterize Romantic ballet. Movement in “A Ruin” is sourced from memories of softness and horror and contemporary club dances from Detroit, New York and New Orleans. It is then inverted and decayed like a surrealist, Greek statue. Balletic geometry is then translated into a new, American geography by building an installation made entirely of carefully folded scrolls of paper to overtake the performance space. This installation bends and folds the constraints of a proscenium stage, placing the audience deep inside of our dystopia. In real time, the three performers fill the scrolls with hieroglyphic incantations, essentially a how to survive annihilation guidebook. This constant writing is broken up by fits of remembering and forgetting a life before the end of the world. The performance ends with an upside-down recitation of the written incantations. What emerges is an entirely new way of speaking/feeling/being American forged in softness and safety. “A Ruin” is afrofuturistic placemaking.
With Kendra J Ross and Pia Monique Murray
Austin Guerrazzi (Composer)
Sean Billy Kizy (Visual Artist)
Ethan Baldwin (Art Director)
Kendra Ross (Performer) is a dancer, teaching artist, choreographer and community organizer from Detroit, MI. Kendra received a BFA from Ailey/Fordham University in Dance. Upon graduation Kendra began sharing her knowledge as a teaching artist in the New York City Public Schools which she has been doing since 2007. As a dancer in New York City, Kendra has worked with Urban Bush Women, Andrea E. Woods/ Souloworks, Genesis Dance Company, Vissi Dance Theater, and Motion Sickness with Monstah BlackM, BDance, and Moving Spirits Dance Company. Kendra is currently a company member of Ase Dance Theater Collective. Kendra also completed an European tour dancing with Adira Amram and DJ KId Koala in Vinyl Vaudville 2.0. Kendra is currently an artist in residence at Brooklyn Studios for Dance. Kendra’s work has been presented at the Detroit Performing Arts High School, Joffrey Summer Intensive, Halftime Performances at Florida A&M University, the off Broadway show 7 Sins, and Museu de Arte in Salvador, Brazil.
Pia Monique Murray (Performer) is known as a jack of all trades in the dance industry, having been a choreographer, performer, teacher, arts administrator, stage, tour and company manager, and rehearsal assistant. She hasworked with nora chipaumire, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Paloma McGregor, Dianne McIntyre, Blondell Cummings, and Pedro Ruiz in various capacities, and performed with Vado Diomande’s Kotchegna Dance Company for ten years. Pia has been a teaching artist for Urban Arts Partnership, Dreamyard Project, Brooklyn Arts Council, Dancewave, and Mark DeGarmo & Dancers. As a Lincoln Center Scholar she attained a master’s degree in dance education from Hunter College and graduated with high honors as a member of the National Honors Society for Dance. Pia currently teaches elementary school dance with the New York City Department of Education, performs with RAKIA! and leads Pia Monique Murray
Dance Collective (PMMDC).
Austin Guerrazzi (Composer) is a New York based multi-instrumentalist and composer. Receiving a Bachelor of Music from New York University, Austin began scoring dance through the Tisch School of the Arts, and has continued to collaborate on projects with film, dance, and interactive media for the past 4 years.
Sean Billy Kizy (Visual Artist) is an architect, installation artist, and toy designer. Originally from outside Detroit, MI he now resides in Brooklyn, NY. He has established Billy's Action Figures as a studio that designs and fabricates projects of all scales with the overlying ambition to create forms that engage motion and inspire action by others. He is a registered architect in New York City with LEED credentials, holds a B.S in Architecture with Distinction from the University of Michigan and an M.Arch from Rice University. Sean Billy Kizy has taught at Rice University, has been on architectural studio juries at CUNY NY and has lectured at NJIT on the topic of 'Explosive Organism and Sustainable Regrowth'. His experience includes work at several architectural firms including OMA and SHoP Architects.
Ethan Baldwin (Art Director) is a DC-born and Brooklyn-based Art Director, Graphic Designer and Photographer. Having always been drawn to artistic movement, his work often incorporates themes from dance, athleticism, and high-energy, on stage and off. He has also danced and choreographed with Danceworks NY, and is almost always moving and shaking while pushing pixels. He is excited for another performance with RAKIA! and truly buys into the life of incorporating glitter in all we do.