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Sunday, February 5, 2023

BODY AND SOUL: Brinda Guha: melting down the wall

(photo: Darryl Padilla)

Brinda Guha on stage wearing black and gold with her hair in a top knot and her arms in the air mid movement. She is smiling, and there are mic stands behind her.



Official trailer for Can We Dance Here? 

 

I first saw Brinda Guha and her Soles of Duende collaborators--Arielle Rosales and Amanda Castro--perform their sensational Can We Dance Here? at Dixon Place in 2018, and I've been a fervent fan ever since. Three women with mad skills in Tap (Castro), Flamenco (Rosales), and Kathak (Guha), with their juxtaposed and blended dynamism, had the audience roaring with joy. I'm also deeply respectful of Guha's scholarship and outspoken activism in the arts and social justice. I knew she would be an powerful speaker for Body and Soul, but little did I know just how powerful!

Come along with Guha through rich memories of family, community, culture, the inner world, and performance.  

Listen to the podcast episode here.

And subscribe to Body and Soul for more!

Now, scroll down for more about my special guest, Brinda Guha!

Eva Yaa Asantewaa

 


Kalamandir Dance Company in Boy With A Coin

See more work by Brinda Guha here.

(photo: Lori Lyon)

Brinda standing in a white room on a white platform in all white with a long shirt with black feminine divine drawings on it. Her hair is down, and she has a bold lip and large turquoise earrings. Her arms are in motion, and she is looking directly at the camera.

BIO: Brinda Guha identifies as a non-disabled, caste-privileged, cisgender and queer South-Asian American, and is a trained Indian Classical Kathak dancer for over 20 years and has traveled throughout USA and to India, England, and Spain to perform. During training and performing for years in the Kathak (Malabika Guha) and Manipuri (Kalavati Devi) dance disciplines, as well as Flamenco (Carmen de las Cuevas; Dionisia Garcia) and Contemporary Fusion vocabularies, she co-founded Kalamandir Dance Company in 2010 based in the vocabulary of #ContemporaryIndian. This name is currently under review. Through Kalamandir, Brinda choreographed for many national stages, the North American Bengali Conference at Madison Square Garden, and self-produced and choreographed original feature-length dance productions which earned her artist residencies at Dixon Place (2018) and Dancewave (2019) to continue to develop work. Now, she is represented by CESD Talent Agency and is pursuing artistic direction, performance and arts education. She continues to train in Kathak, Manipuri, Yorchha™ (est. Ananya Chatterjea), and Contemporary. Brinda also dances with dynamic percussive trio Soles of Duende, featuring Flamenco (Arielle Rosales), Tap (Amanda Castro), and Kathak. Her dream of having art meet activism was realized when she created WISE FRUIT NYC, a seasonal live arts installment (est. 2017) dedicated to the feminine divine and honoring select women-led organizations. Between live installments, Wise Fruit NYC functions as a community-led space for beginner tools in social justice. For her day job, she works as the Symposium Coordinator for dance service organization based in the values of justice, equity, and inclusion: Dance/NYC.

www.BrindaGuha.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

BODY AND SOUL: Kayhan Irani: stories from the waters of memory

Kayhan Irani (photo: Jehangir Irani)
 

Kayhan, dark hair and dark eyes, sits sideways on a bench. Her arms are folded as they rest across the back the bench. She is looking slightly off camera to someone as if she's in conversation.

******

Kayhan Irani--writer, performer, artivist, mother--finds herself  aswirl in a constellation of stories, savoring books by writers of color whose values point the way to a positive future. Come be inspired by Irani's beautiful talk on the textures of memory and how stories help us re-weave community.

Listen to the podcast episode here.

Subscribe to Body and Soul for more.

Read below for more about my special guest, Kayhan Irani!

Eva Yaa Asantewaa

******

Kayhan Irani performs There is a Portal in Philadelphia (photo: Aidan Un)

Kayhan, standing on a dark stage with eyes shut. She is in profile and a spotlight illuminates her face and chest. Her left arm is lifted up above her head, palm closed as if holding something. Her lips are slightly as she exhales.

BIO: I am Kayhan Irani, a writer, a performer, a cultural organizer, and a Theater of the Oppressed Joker. For the past twenty I have used the tools of participatory theater and storytelling, internationally and in the US, to develop grassroots leaders and seed transformative change. I make art that brings people together to deepen our relationships to each other through story. Performance as conversation, as memory, as a way to return to ourselves what we have disregarded. My current project, There is a Portal, is performance as pedagogy. A deeply personal, reflective digital journey, coupled with in-person spaces of gentle, collective inquiry and local/diasporic storytelling. The project offers embodied poetic exploration to help us divest from narratives of erasure, restore our core metaphors, and build narratives that orient us toward self-belonging.

www.artivista.org/

Sunday, January 8, 2023

BODY AND SOUL: Maxine Montilus: To teach is to learn

Maxine Montilus (photo: ShocPhoto LLC)
 

A black woman with long dreadlocks is wearing a black sleeveless dress.  She is suspended in the air in a double attitude jump, with her left and right arms placed in fourth position with palms facing outward.  The background is blurred with shades of green and white colors.

******

Maxine Montilus has served many roles in dance--performer, choreographer, administrator, writer, and educator. I asked her to focus this podcast episode on her experience and ideas as a passionate and imaginative dance teacher across ages and levels. It was a delight to listen to her, and I hope you will enjoy this, too!

Listen to her segment on Body and Soul podcast here.

Subscribe to Body and Soul for more.

Read below to learn more about Maxine.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa

******

BIO: Maxine Montilus is a dance artist from Brooklyn, New York. As an educator, Maxine is currently a Visiting Professor in the Theatre and Dance department at Indiana University. She is also a principal facilitator and teaching artist with Camille A. Brown & Dancers’ EVERY BODY MOVE Community Engagement platform, and was recently an adjunct dance professor at both Hunter College and SUNY Old Wetsbury. She has also served as a teaching artist for Haiti Cultural Exchange, Caribbean Cultural Center Africa Diaspora Institute, and Opus Dance Theatre. From 2015-2018, she was a full-time dance teacher for the New York City Department of Education. Maxine has also served as an arts administrator in arts education, coordinating programs for public schools, studios and healthcare facilities at The Juilliard School, Marquis Studios and Dancewave. www.maxinemontilus.com/

Friday, January 6, 2023

BODY AND SOUL: devynn emory: dancing in the liminal

devynn emory on set for Grandmother Cindy, 2022 (photo: Reilly Horan)

emory with bronzed skin, dark black faded hair stands in their grandmother's warm fuzzy coat covered in polar bears looking directly at the camera while clasping their hands in anticipation of the performance beginning soon. behind them is a silver sterile table with bowls of medicine placed in preparation, their performer/collaborator Joseph M. Pierce (Cherokee Nation) and their cinematographer Jorge Cousineau. two figures draped in yellow fabric hold the space, representing devynn's ancestors.

******

There's no reason to build a wall of labels around devynn emory and their work in this world and between worlds. They care for body, spirit, and community in a multitude of ways--from nursing to choreography, from mediumship to bodywork, from writing to work with death and grieving. This rich interweaving of skills and services sounds strange only in a society that deliberately separates body and soul and fails to respect the multiplicity of ways of knowing and healing. devynn, however, stays attuned to ancient ways and what the land teaches.

Listen to their segment on Body and Soul podcast here.

Subscribe to Body and Soul for more.

Read below to learn more about devynn.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa

 

devynn emory filming Cindy Sessions: LAND on the lands of the Serrano peoples

 

BIO: devynn emory is a choreographer/dance artist, dual-licensed bodyworker, ritual guide, medium and registered nurse- practicing in the fields of acute/critical care, hospice, COVID and integrative health. emory's performance company devynnemory/beastproductions finds the intersection of these fields, walking the edges of thresholds–drawing from their multiple in-between states of being, holding space for liminal bodies bridging multiple planes of transition, finding reciprocity practice as a constant decolonial practice. they are currently working on a trilogy centering medical mannequins holding the wisdom of end-of-life experiences. (deadbird + can anybody help me hold this body, 2021, Cindy Sessions: Grandmother Cindy + Cindy Sessions LOVE, LOSS, LAND 2022, boiling-rain tbd). emory is a research group fellow at danspace 2020-2023, a recipient of the Onassis Eureka award, an FCA emergency grant recipient, and an Art Matters Artist2Artist fellow. born on Lenape Land, emory is a reconnecting descendant of mixed Lenape/Blackfoot/settler ancestry. www.devynnemory.com

BODY AND SOUL: María de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez: Earth and Spirit

  
María de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez (photo: Lucas Cardoso)
 

I am wearing a white shirt, framed glasses, ultramarine blue pants, and a clipped-up casual hair updo, sitting inside of a cave. Picture is taken from inside of the cave, looking out into a green tropical landscape. I have in my hand a small cup with natural red ochre pigment dye (found from the same cave) and in the other a paintbrush, as I doodle on a rock. I am looking directly at the viewer/camera.

******

I first learned about María de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez and her research when I was invited to an upcoming dance-and-ecology symposium presented by the New York Public Library's Jerome Robbins Dance Division (January 27; livestream February 3). I was immediately drawn to the direction of her interdisciplinary work which infuses performance with Afro-Atlantic spiritual traditions of reverence and care for the natural world. I was eager to learn more about Jiménez and share her ideas with you. I highly recommend the symposium which will also feature presentations by five other members of the 2022-2023 cohort of Dance Research Fellows--Juli Brandano, Rosemary Candelario, Lindsey Jones, Richard Move, and Rachna Nivas. Information and free RSVP for the in-person or livestreamed event here.

Listen to the Body and Soul podcast episode here.

Subscribe to Body and Soul for more.

Read below to learn more about María!

Eva Yaa Asantewaa


Jiménez in Ora Yêyê o (photo: Lucas Cardoso)

Location: Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil. Ora Yêyê o (performance still with mask ii), 2022. Duration 00:08:57

This performance is an homage to the orixá Oxúm of freshwater and femininity. Video still shows me wearing a knitted and crochet yellow and white mask looking to the right. Attached to the mask are beads made of eucalyptus seeds and black beans. I am inside of a small lake that has yellowish water wearing a white dress, the white dress looks yellow when submerged in the water. Image shows me sitting in the water with the mask at the center and the rest of the frame is the lake water and its reflections surrounding me.

BIO: María de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez is an interdisciplinary artist born in 1992 in Holguín, Cuba. She lives and works between Brooklyn, NY and Salvador, Bahia.She received her BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 2015 and MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University in 2020. New York Public Library Jerome Robbins Dance Division Fellow, 2022-2023. Fulbright Research Fellow, Brazil, 2020–2022. https://www.mariadlarj.com/

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

BODY AND SOUL: Lisa La Touche: Tap 4 The People

Lisa La Touche (photo: Jeremy Fokkens)

 

Tap dancer Lisa La Touche is wearing a red cropped T-shirt with a Canadian brand "roots" logo and light blue denim shorts cropped just above the knee.  Lisa is focused on a rhythm with one legs crossing in front of her reaching for a particular step.  The room is a warehouse with light beige brick and a wooden surface underneath her.  Her tap shoes are a mix of light and dark caramel colors.

******

I'm delighted to feature the wonderful tap artist and filmmaker Lisa La Touche as my next guest. Born in Canada and, for a time, residing in New York's Harlem, Lisa has traveled the world with her tap shoes--drumming the earth, finding community, and realizing the power of artistic legacy.

Listen to the podcast episode here.

Subscribe to Body and Soul for more. 

Read below to learn more about Lisa!

Eva Yaa Asantewaa


(photo: Joel Varjassy)

 Lisa is wearing a casual white denim dress with her arm crossed in front of her while looking at the horizon. She is outside in front of the Canadian Rocky Mountains with a train track behind her.  This is taken a moment before she begins to dance.

Lisa is wearing a black blouse and earth-green and greyish-brown leopard print leggings with dark and light caramel colored tap shoes. She is dancing on a wooden boardwalk with the city of Calgary's skyline behind her. She is in mid-action dancing with her hips twisted to one side, her arm reaching above her and her focus at her feet while reaching for a rhythm.

BIO: From both Alberta and New York, Lisa La Touche’s credits include: Broadway’s Shuffle Along, receiving the Fred Astaire Award and the Actor’s Equity Award for Outstanding Broadway Chorus, touring with the Savion Glover and the cast of STOMP. She is Founder of Tap Phonics, a tap dance based performance and production company. She is an educator/professor and co-curator of Dance Immersion’s Tap Dance Legacy Series with Travis Knights servicing black communities with free access to cultural history. She is also a filmmaker recently debuting TRAX encompassing her journey back to Alberta while discovering important local black history. http://www.lisalatouche.com

Friday, December 30, 2022

InfiniteBody Honor Roll 2022

 

InfiniteBody Honor Roll 2022


Eva Yaa Asantewaa

 

Beyoncé's Renaissance

Jenna Ortega in Wednesday (photo: Netflix)

 The inimitable Lizzo

 

 Well, hi, again! It's about damn time!

 

This post almost didn't happen because this blog almost stayed dormant. But now it's back--sort of. (Still sorting that out.) I've been quietly accumulating these items since the beginning of 2022--not for any kind of Best Of  list but, instead, just a record of my journey this year through arts and entertainment. You're mileage is bound to vary, but here's some of what I found interesting and enjoyed and only in the order, more or less, of my experience. Some, because it's likely I've forgotten to jot down a few things here or there. And, yes, there are a few items here that represent me doing serious catching up--like  ending the year binge-watching HBO's Treme--finally! So glad to connect with that great storytelling--and music!


What's on your list?



Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of Macbeth (Photo: Alison Rosa)


Naomi Ekperigin, The Standups, Netflix


Naomi Ekperigin, The Standups, Season 3 (Netflix), streaming from December 2021


The Art of Asking, audiobook written, read, and sung by Amanda Palmer, Hachette Audio, 2014

 

The Tragedy of Macbeth, directed by Joel Coen (Apple TV+), streaming from January 14

 

The Power of The Dog, directed by Jane Campion (Netflix), 2021

 

 


 
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson, Random House, 2020

As We See It, created by Jason Katims (Amazon Prime), streaming from January 21

 

Season 4 of Ozark, created by Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams (Netflix), streaming from January 21

 

Brown Girls, by Daphne Palasi Andreades, Random House, 2022


Philippe Petit: Open Practice, Baryshnikov Arts Center, streaming February 7-21

 

14 Peaks, directed by Torquil Jones (Netflix), 2021


Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis (Netflix), 2020


Taylor Tomlinson: Look at You (Netflix), 2022


Martyr's Fiction (rough cut), by Kayla Farris, 2022


Starstruck, by Rose Matafeo (HBO Max), streaming from 2021

 

 


Rothaniel, by Jerrod Carmichael (HBO Max), streaming from 2022

 

Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca, at The Joyce Theater, April 5-10


Women of the White Buffalo, directed by Deborah Anderson, various streaming services from April 12

 

"About Damn Time," (Special), by Lizzo

 


Keeley Hawes as Louisa Durrell in The Durrells in Corfu

Josh O'Connor as Larry Durrell in The Durrells in Corfu


The Durrells in Corfu (Amazon Prime) 


This is Us (Hulu)


Civil: Ben Crump, directed by Nadia Hallgren (Netflix)


Season One of Abbott Elementary, created by Quinta Brunson (Hulu), streaming from 2021

 

Summer of Soul, directed by Questlove (Hulu), from 2021


Heartstopper, created by Alice Oseman  (Netflix)


Season One of The White Lotus, directed by Mike White  (HBO Max)


Renaissance, by Beyoncé

 

 


 

The Sandman (Netflix), from 2022


Citizen Ashe, directed by Rex Miller (HBO Max), 2021


Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh (HBO Max), 2022

 

 

Vocalist Samara Joy
 
Viola Davis in The Woman King

 

 E. H. Duckworth, Moshood Olúṣọmọ Bámigbóyè Holding a Portrait Bust. Ìlọfà, Kwara State, Nigeria, ca. 1940. Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, BIRRC-D432-1. © Research and Cultural Collections, University of Birmingham

 

 
Linger Awhile by Samara Joy

The Woman King, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, 2022


Joseph Anton, by Salman Rushdie (Penguin Random House, 2012)                     


Didn't Nobody Give A Shit About What Happened to Carlotta, by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company, 2022)


Elvis, directed by Baz Luhrmann (HBO Max), 2022

 

Bámigbóyè: A Master Sculptor of the Yorùbá Tradition, Yale Art Gallery

 

 

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Amazon Prime Video), 2022


Homegrown, (HBO Max), streaming from 2022


Descendant, directed by Margaret Browne (Netflix), streaming from 2022

 

The History of Empires, Witness Relocation/Dan Safer, La MaMa, October 27-November 6 

 

The American Manifest: Moving Chains by Charles Gaines, Governors Island (Click here to view my video clip of this astonishing installation.)

 

Xaviera Simmons: Crisis Makes a Book Club, Queens Museum


Wendell & Wild, directed by Henry Selick (Netflix), streaming from 2022


Spencer, directed by Pablo Larrain, 2021


The Crown, Season 5 (Netflix), streaming from 2022


Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler (Netflix)


Wednesday, (Netflix), streaming from November 23

 

Emily The Criminal, directed by John Patton Ford, (Netflix), streaming from December 7 


She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400–2000 B.C., The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

Sabrina Imbler (photo: Marion Aguas)

How Far The Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler (Little, Brown and Company, 2022)

The Deep: Exploring Earth's Last Frontier, World Science Festival, streaming from December 22. And yes, I've hyperlinked this title for you because you absolutely have got to see it! Here's info:


For centuries, humans believed the deep sea was lifeless, but new technologies have revealed that this previously hidden realm is home to rich ecosystems, mineral treasures, and an astounding kaleidoscope of life. Oceanographer Dr. Vicki Ferrini, marine biologist Dr. Helen Scales, and explorer Victor Vescovo join Brian Greene for a journey to Earth’s final frontier where for the first time we are discovering what lies beneath the oceans.


 

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, directed by Rian Johnson (Netflix), streaming from December 23

 

Edward Hopper's New York, The Whitney Museum 


The Banshees of Inisherin, directed by Martin McDonagh (HBO Max), streaming from December 13


Juan Francisco Elso: Por América, El Museo del Barrio


Treme, created by David GlaSimon and Eric Overmyer (HBO), streaming from 2010

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