Co-presented by FirstWorks and Brown Arts Institute at Brown University
TABLE OF CONTENTS
• WELCOME LETTERS FROM FIRSTWORKS AND BROWN ARTS INSTITUTE
• “WHAT PROBLEM?” PROGRAM
• ABOUT BILL T. JONES/ARNIE ZANE COMPANY
• COMMUNITY PARTICIPANT BIOS
• “WE. SEA. SONG.” – AN ESSAY BY DANIEL ALEXANDER JONES (opens in new tab)
• ABOUT FIRSTWORKS AND BROWN ARTS INSTITUTE
• SPONSOR CREDITS
Photo credit: Jim Coleman
WELCOME FROM THE DIRECTORS OF FIRSTWORKS AND BROWN ARTS INSTITUTE
What Problem? fires our imaginations for what’s possible. What is possible between artists and audience? What is possible in the joined creativity of this company of highly trained performers and 26 courageous community participants? What does the burning vision of Bill T. Jones make possible in Rhode Island’s creative capital at this moment of crisis?
On the stage, history is being unpacked and history is being made. Iconic American texts from Melville and Dr. Martin Luther King demand re-examination; body-based performance; music all combine to pierce us to the marrow.
This marks Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s third residency with FirstWorks, and an evolving and vital partnership with the Brown Arts Institute. With each project we learn… what’s possible. The performance is the tip of the iceberg that What Problem? makes possible: dialogue, workshops with young people, conversations that deepen relationships and propel action. This extraordinary and ephemeral live performance is at the epicenter of a widening circle. Live art. Live audience. Together poised to make “We Shall Overcome” more than an aspiration.
Wisdom emanates from the stage and from the body. As Bill says, “Start moving around. Just start moving. And don’t judge. Just try it. And then I dare you to do it with a group of friends.” As Bill says, “I dare you!”
Thank you for gathering and for carrying What Problem? out into the world.
Executive Artistic Director and Founder
In Providence, in this creative capital, the spectacular autumn colors are just beckoning us out of our homes and schools and offices, encouraging us to consider our place in this ever-changing climate. Whether we stand alone in solitary contemplation, or with a jubilant crowd gathered at the WaterFire’s edge, our communities ebb and flow around us. What Problem? asks us to consider our footing, our relationship to the person, known or unknown, next to us or across the way; to consider the care needed to traverse the space between us; to consider how we define the parameters of our communities. If the problem of the 20th century, according to W.E.B. Dubois, was the “problem of the color line”, what is the quintessential problem of the 21st century?
To debate the answer to this probing question, we gather.
We gather at the behest of a legendary artist, Bill T. Jones and his Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company of performers and movement-makers.
We gather compelled by these pandemic times which, having forced us into solitary and separated spaces, now force us to learn how to be together again.
We invite you to share this space with us.
We invite you to dialogue with us.
We invite you to open yourselves to receive this provocative piece of art.
Avery Willis Hoffman
Artistic Director, Brown Arts Institute
Professor of the Practice of Arts & Classics
MORE WAYS TO ENGAGE
We invite you to stay on immediately after tonight’s performance for an Artist Up-Close conversation.
Please join us tomorrow morning for a Town Hall Conversation and brunch with Bill T. Jones and Janet Wong, Associate Artistic Director of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. Saturday, November 5, 11:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. at Brown University’s Granoff Center for the Creative and Visual Arts, Martinos Auditorium. This Town Hall Conversation is free, RSVP is required.
Reservations can be made here.
FirstWorks, Brown Arts Institute and New York Live Arts present
BILL T. JONES/ARNIE ZANE COMPANY
Bill T. Jones, Co-Founder & Artistic Director
Janet Wong, Associate Artistic Director
Barrington Hinds, Jada Jenai, Shane Larson, s. lumbert, Danielle Marshall, Marie Lloyd Paspe,
Jacoby Pruitt, Nayaa Opong, Huiwang Zhang
with Bill T. Jones
Phillip Bullock, Shaq Hester, Stacy Penson, Dev
Ry Andella, Alexa Barriga, Lisa Biggs, PhD, Mark Binder, Kira Kelly Clarke, Abby Cohen, Assitan ‘Sita’ Coulibaly, Lafayette Cruise, Freeman T Freeman, Leah Grant, Aisha Jandosova, Christopher Johnson, Amy Joseph, Brenda Maria, Eliza Noxon, Rosey Ok, Sophia Fern Pray, Tia-Alexi Roberts, Alison C. Rollins, Siraj Sindhu, Linda Spencer, Michelle Struckholz, Shaffany Piaget Terrell, Katrina Theth, Jada Wooten
Conceived and Directed by Bill T. Jones
Choreography by Bill T. Jones with Janet Wong and current and former Company members
Original Composition by Nick Hallett
Electronic Score by HPrizm aka High Priest, Rena Anakwe and Holland Andrews
Music Direction by Stacy Penson
Lighting Design by Robert Wierzel*
Costume Design by Liz Prince
Dramaturgy by Mark Hairston
Text by Bill T. Jones and Mark Hairston
*Denotes Member of the United Scenic Arts Union (USA)
Visual environment, video projection and lighting design conceived by Elizabeth Diller (DS+R) and Peter Nigrini for Deep Blue Sea have been adapted for the staging of What Problem?
Text excerpts from:
W.E.B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk
Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream”
Kendrick Lamar, “Never Catch Me”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Musical excerpts from:
“Get Right Church” (traditional), performed by Empire Jubilee Quartet; courtesy of Document Records
“Black Gal (I Don’t Want No Jet Black Woman)” (traditional), performed by prisoners of the Mississippi State Penitentiary, recorded by Alan Lomax
Programming & Production Staff
Kyle Maude, Producing Director
Hillery Makatura, Director of Production
Megan Dechaine, Production Stage Manager
Alejandro Fajardo, Lighting Supervisor
Shay Watson, Sound Engineer
Charles Cobbertt, III, Assistant Stage Manager
Jada Jenai, Company Manager
Adapted from Deep Blue Sea which was originally commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and Manchester International Festival in collaboration with Holland Festival and first performed on September 28, 2021. Additional commissioning support provided by The Mann Center for the Performing Arts with original support for Deep Blue Sea provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia. What Problem? Commissioning support provided by Carolina Performing Arts, Lumberyard Center for Film and Performing Arts, Indiana University Auditorium, George Mason University and Dancers’ Workshop. Rehearsal support provided by Mana Contemporary and Bethany Arts Community. What Problem? was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The creation of new work by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company is made possible in part by the company’s Partners in Creation: Anonymous (2), Anne Delaney, Zoe Eskin, Eleanor Friedman, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Michael P.N.A. Hormel in Loving Memory of Jim Hormel, Suzanne Karpas, Ellen Poss, Jane Bovingdon Semel, in memory of Linda G. Shapiro, Slobodan Randjelović & Jon Stryker.
Support for New York Live Arts is provided by the Arnhold Foundation, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ed Bradley Family Foundation, The Brant Foundation, Inc., Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, Dance/NYC, Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance, Marta Heflin Foundation, Alex Katz Foundation, Lambent Foundation, Alice Lawrence Foundation, Samuel M. Levy Family Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Muriel Pollia Foundation, National Performance Network, New England Foundation for the Arts, New York Community Trust, The Poss Family Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Jerome Foundation, Jerome Robbins Foundation, The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, The Semel Charitable Foundation, Scherman Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Tides Foundation.
Public support for New York Live Arts is from Humanities New York, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council member Erik Bottcher, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.
Corporate support for New York Live Arts includes Con Edison, Google, Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
We at New York Live Arts acknowledge and offer deep gratitude to Lenapehoking, where New York Live Arts sits-the land, and waters of the Lenape homeland.
“For the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line . . . the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men . . . And yet, being a problem is a strange experience,—peculiar even for one who has never been anything else.” – W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
I have long accepted Dr. King’s immortal words “We Shall Overcome” mixed with the scripture of our democracy as formed and shaped by we the people. And yet there’s always been an uneasy recognition of the truth at the base of the great W.E.B. Du Bois statement concerning “the Problem”. The “Color Line” for Du Bois represented the epitome of otherness, yet we now understand this is much more complex. In our fractious era, I am compelled to elaborate on this “line” in terms of sexual politics, gender identity, class struggles, and especially at this moment in time, immigration.
These ideas collide in my mind and my creative self like tectonic plates. Tectonic activity creates land formations, volcanic eruptions and rearranging of whole continents. What Problem? is the latest result of this social/political/spiritual grinding and reformation.
Are you a problem? And what does it mean to be a problem?
All of my work is in pursuit of the “we”. What Problem? is the notion of “WE THE PEOPLE”.
~ Bill T. Jones
Text: Herman Melville
Melody: Chanel Howard
Part I Performed by: Danielle Marshall and Vocalists
Part II Performed by: Danielle Marshall, Marie Lloyd Paspe and Jada Jenai
The ribs and terrors in the whale
Arched over me a dismal gloom
While all God’s sunlit rays rolled by
And left me deepening down to doom
I saw the opening maw of hell,
With endless pains and sorrows there;
Which none but they that feel can tell—
Oh, I was plunging to despair.
Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. Photo by Lois Greenfield
Over the past 40 years the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company has shaped the evolution of contemporary dance through the creation and performance of over 140 works. Founded as a multicultural dance company in 1982, the company was born of an 11-year artistic collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. Today, the company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the modern dance world. The company has performed its ever-enlarging repertoire worldwide in over 200 cities in 40 countries on every major continent. In 2011, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company merged with Dance Theater Workshop to form New York Live Arts of which Bill T. Jones is the Artistic Director and Janet Wong is the Associate Artistic Director.
The repertory of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company is widely varied in its subject matter, visual imagery and stylistic approach to movement, voice and stagecraft and includes musically driven works as well as works using a variety of texts. Some of its most celebrated creations are evening length works including Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land (1990, Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music); Still/Here (1994, Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France); We Set Out Early… Visibility Was Poor (1996, Hancher Auditorium, Iowa City, IA); You Walk? (2000, European Capital of Culture 2000,Bolgna, Italy); Blind Date (2006, Peak Performances at Montclair State University); Chapel/Chapter (2006, Harlem Stage Gatehouse); Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray (2009, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL); Another Evening: Venice/Arsenale (2010, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy); Story/Time (2012, Peak Performances); A Rite (2013, Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill); Deep Blue Sea (2021, Park Avenue Armory).
NEW YORK LIVE ARTS
Home of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (BTJ/AZ), Live Arts is a commissioning and presenting center of diverse artists notable for their conceptual rigor, formal experimentation, and active engagement with the sociocultural currents of our time. Artists at all stages of their careers are supported through residencies, commissions, and artist services. BTJ/AZ, founded in 1982 by Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane (1948-1988), is recognized as an innovative force, having performed in over 200 cities and 40 countries.
BILL T. JONES (Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company; Artistic Director: New York Live Arts) is recipient of the 2022 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for Black No More; 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award; 2013 National Medal of Arts; 2010 Kennedy Center Honors; a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography of the critically acclaimed Fela!; a 2007 Tony Award, 2007 Obie Award, and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Callaway Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening; the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award; 2007 USA Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship; 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven; 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; 2005 Harlem Renaissance Award; 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award. In 2010, Jones was recognized as Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, and in 2000, The Dance Heritage Coalition named Jones “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure.” Bill has been nominated for the 2022 Tony Awards for his work on Paradise Square.
Jones choreographed and performed worldwide with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982. He has created more than 140 works for his company. Jones is Artistic Director of New York Live Arts, an organization that strives to create a robust framework in support of the nation’s dance and movement-based artists through new approaches to producing, presenting, and educating.
ARNIE ZANE (Co-Founder/Choreographer) (1948-1988) was a native New Yorker born in the Bronx and educated at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. In 1971, Arnie Zane and Bill T. Jones began their long collaboration in choreography and in 1973 formed the American Dance Asylum in Binghamton with Lois Welk. Mr. Zane’s first recognition in the arts came as a photographer when he received a Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS) Fellowship in 1973. Mr. Zane was the recipient of a second CAPS Fellowship in 1981 for choreography, as well as two Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1983 and 1984). In 1980, Mr. Zane was co-recipient, with Bill T. Jones, of the German Critics Award for his work, Blauvelt Mountain. Rotary Action, a duet with Mr. Jones, was filmed for television, co-produced by WGBH-TV Boston and Channel 4 in London.
BARRINGTON HINDS (performer) is from West Palm Beach, Florida. He began his training at the School of Ballet Florida under the direction of Marie Hale. Hinds holds a BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase College and has worked professionally with VERB Ballets, Northwest Professional Dance Project, and the national tour of Twyla Tharp’s Broadway show, Movin’ Out. In 2011 Hinds was honored as a finalist for the Clive Barnes Award for young talent in dance. He has worked with leading choreographers including Laurie Stallings, Edgar Zendejas, Sarah Slipper, Helen Pickett, Thaddeus Davis, and Cherylyn Lavagnino to name a few. Hinds has also danced with the Stephen Petronio Company and has freelanced in commercial, TV, and print work. In addition, Hinds is also a choreographer and teacher. His work has been shown at Purchase College, Dixon Place, Warwick Summer Festival, Arts On Site, and The Tank. Barrington has been a Performer with the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Company since 2017. You can follow him @bar_hinds and his website www.barringtonhinds.com
JADA JENAI (performer, company manager) was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She has worked professionally with A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, Helen Simoneau, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, and Wyckoff Collective. Jenai earned a BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, studying under Jonathan Ridel, Kyle Abraham, Kevin Wynn, and Dylan Crossman, and Jean Freebury (Merce Cunningham Change of Address). She also studied at Western Australia Academy for Performing Arts and Springboard Danse Montreal, working with Jonathan Alsberry and Shamel Pitts. Jenai attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School and is a freelance model. This is her first season with the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company.
SHANE LARSON (performer) was raised in Minnesota, where he received his early training at the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. He graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, with a BFA in Dance and a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. He also studied at SEAD in Austria. Since living in New York City, he’s branched out to collaborate with punk musicians, film makers, improvisational music ensembles, and site-specific visual artists. He is also a multimedia video artist who makes collage-based work about memory. Shane joined the Company in 2015.
s. lumbert (performer) is a transgender dance artist currently based in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, NY). s. is committed to a practice of navigating how to be in zis body as a person who experiences chronic illness, and is interested in cultivating accessible spaces in dance. s. collaborates in live performance and in film with Marie Lloyd Paspe and musician Treya Lam, rehearses with and performs for Huiwang Zhang in collaboration with zimself and Nayaa Opong, and has been in process with and performed for Marion Spencer. s. has been working with the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Company since 2018.
DANIELLE MARSHALL (performer) is a native of Atlanta, GA. She received her early dance training from DeKalb School of the Arts, Phusion Performing Arts Alliance, and City Gate Dance Theater. In 2019, she graduated summa cum laude from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program, studying dance & Pre-Health for Physical Therapy. During her time at Ailey/Fordham, Ms. Marshall had the opportunity to perform works by her colleagues and notable choreographers such as Adam Barruch, Amy Hall Garner, and Maxine Steinman. Marshall is also a certified Horton instructor. She is incredibly grateful to begin her first season with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company.
MARIE LLOYD PASPE (performer) is originally from Bellingham, MA and Mississauga, Canada, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Marie received her BFA from the Ailey/Fordham Program in 2016, studying abroad in Israel with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in 2015 and Springboard Danse Montreal in 2017. She toured with Carolyn Dorfman Dance and worked with choreographers Peter Chu, Renee Jaworski, and Rami Be’er. Her choreography, vocal work, and movement direction for stage and film were presented in the Philippines, Berlin, Israel, and across the U.S. Marie’s ongoing practices are rooted in Filipinx-American diasporic work and somatic-based healing. Paspe joined the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in 2018.
JACOBY PRUITT (performer) began his dance training in Miami, FL where he attended New World School of the Arts. He is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of Dance and is a recipient of the Martha Hill Dance Fund’s “Young Professional Award”. He has worked professionally with Ailey II, Company XIV, Sean Curran Company, and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet among various other freelance projects. His tv/film credits include Good Morning America, Comedy Central’s ‘Alternatino’, and the ‘In the Heights’ film. Jacoby joined the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Company in 2021.
NAYAA OPONG (performer) is from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She began her dance training at The Bowman School of Dance and later continued at Eleone Dance Unlimited. Nayaa chose to further her studies at Mason Gross School of the Arts – Rutgers University, where she earned a B.F.A. in Dance and was able to spend a semester at The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Since graduating in May 2019, she performs with Hysterica Jazz Dance and has begun working with the BIRDHOUSE artist collective. Nayaa joined the Company in 2019.
HUIWANG ZHANG (performer) has been a member of the Company since 2017. He was nominated an “outstanding performer” by the Bessies (Zhang imbues commitment with focus, and connects time together through sensitized and accumulated gestures) for his performance of “Our Labyrinth” directed by Lee Mingwei and Bill T. Jones at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He earned his MFA from the University of Utah under the mentorship of Stephen Koester. 张慧望，江⻄九江⼈，毕业于北京舞蹈学院。
PHILLIP BULLOCK (Vocalist) Praised by Opera News for his “appeasingly suave baritone,” Philip K. Bullock is a native of Washington D.C. and has been featured in operas, recitals, and concerts throughout the United States and Europe. Most recently, Bullock made his debut with the Atlanta Opera in Porgy & Bess and returned to Cincinnati Opera for their production of Puccini’s Tosca. Other operatic highlights include his performance of Jake in Porgy & Bess at Dresden’s Opera’s new production. Bullock has been seen in concert performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Kurt Well’s Seven Deadly Sins with National Music Festival Orchestra. www.PhillipBullock.com
SHAQ HESTER (Vocalist) Off Broadway: Antigone in Ferguson (Swing Soloist). Regional: The View Upstairs (Wes), Five Guys Named Moe (Little Moe). Hester has appeared with the Bronx Opera and Trilogy Opera. He has performed as featured vocalist in the Pyer Moss “Sister” runway show. He also produced and performed live vocal arrangements with 22Gz for the Pyer Moss “Watt U Iz” Couture fashion show. Hester was featured vocalist in Ari Grooves’ Message From a Wanderer at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Artist collaboration include Aloe Blacc and Jason Michael Webb. Hester is a graduate of IU Jacobs School of Music and University of South Carolina School of Music.
STACY PENSON (Vocalist/Music Director) Stacy Penson, a classically trained musician, has worked in New York, across the U.S., and all over the world performing a variety of styles of music. He has performed the roles of Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni, W. Mozart) and Don Alhambra (Gondoliers, A. Sullivan) as well as collaborations with Kathleen Battle, Marilyn Horne, Patti LaBelle, Angie Stone, Brain McKnight, and Alicia Keys. Penson is also an accomplished pianist and conductor and has been Music Director for many Broadway/Off-Broadway Shows.
DEV (Vocalist) Dev holds a Masters of Music degree with a concentration in Musical theatre from NYU Steinhardt where they studied under Dr. Scott Murphree, Alexander Gemingani, and Erin Ortman. They also hold a BA in Commercial Music Performance (Voice) from the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) studying voice under Kisma Jordan-Hunter and DeAnna Johnson. Dev, a native Detroiter, has always found inspiration in their city. As a child, Dev could sing before they could speak and could find a song anywhere they looked. In the years since they found their calling in places like Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit. Dev has never liked to limit themself in a genre of music, theatre, or whatever piece of art they choose to take part in in life, so they sing and perform everything from Classical, Pop, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Country, Gospel, R&B soul, and even Rock. And has worked to effect change for the better in every space they cross. Bringing all the above together, Dev has a sound that is truly unique and is sure to touch the hearts of Detroit, New York and beyond. In their music and artistry, Dev has discovered a calling bigger than themself. They are a voice that is getting louder for Civil Rights movements including racial, feminist, and LGBTQIA+ and community. They live by the words of Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
COLLABORATOR & GUEST ARTIST BIOS
RENA ANAKWE (Electronic Score) Rena Anakwe is an interdisciplinary artist and performer working primarily with sound, visuals, and scent. Exploring intersections between traditional healing practices, spirituality, and performance, she creates works focused on sensory-based, experiential interactions using creative technology. Most recently, she was awarded a 2021-2022 MacDowell Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Arts and a 2022 Jack Nusbaum Artist Residency at BAM. Anakwe has collaborated, produced, and shown work at NYC institutions, including: En Garde Arts/Brookfield Place, Weeksville Heritage Center, Dia Foundation, Fridman Gallery, Knockdown Center, Lincoln Center. MoMA PS1, CultureHub, Pioneer Works, and Montez Press Radio. She is based in Brooklyn, New York, by way of Nigeria and Canada.
NICK HALLETT (Composer & Music Director) Nick Hallett is a musician, artist, and curator. His scores for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company include Deep Blue Sea (2021), What Problem? (2020), the Analogy Trilogy (2015-2017), A Letter to My Nephew (2015), and Fishkill/Movements 1-45 (2014). He has served as vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and music director for the international tours of these works. Hallett received a 2017 Bessie Award with Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez for Variations on Themes from Lost & Found; Scenes from a Life and Other Works by John Bernd. In 2020, his opera collaboration with artist Shana Moulton, Whispering Pines 10, premiered in digital form at www.whisperingpines10.com. His music and transdisciplinary projects have been presented in New York at MoMA, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, Hayden Planetarium, BAM, Performa, New Museum, The Kitchen, Danspace, Roulette, and ISSUE Project Room. Hallett is on the faculties of The New School and School of Visual Arts.
MARK HAIRSTON (Dramaturg) A native of Washington, DC, Mark Hairston is a director, performer and educator with a primary focus on American theater and theater of the African diaspora. He is particularly drawn to classical works, innovative literary adaptations, and theater for community development. His recent directing highlights include Julius Caesar, The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom, King Lear, The Cherry Orchard, and The Henry Dumas Project. Along with directing, Mark Hairston has worked extensively as a professional actor with some of the nation’s leading theater companies. He is a graduate of the MFA Directing program at Columbia University School of the Arts, received his BFA in Acting from Rutgers University, and was classically trained at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Mark Hairston is an Assistant Professor of Directing and Acting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
HPRIZM aka HIGH PRIEST (Electronic Score) Hprizm aka High Priest is an American avant-garde artist, composer, new-media artist and performer whose work spans performance art, pop music and multimedia projects. Formally trained as a visual artist, Hprizm, later developed from the axis of poetry, hip hop and the experimental arts community of the Lower East Side in the early 90’s. Prizm is the founding member of the Antipop Consortium and a cited figure in the Afrofuturist canon. Prizm has shared stages with The Roots, Radiohead, MF Doom, Matthew Shipp, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, and others. His musical compositions have been presented at the Whitney, Guggenheim, Walker, and The New museums, as well as MoMA PS1, Cal-Arts, and the Mazzoli Gallery. At his PRIZMLABS, his clients include Kehinde Wiley, Simone Leigh, Moor Mother, Ursula Rucker, The Barnes center, Bahamadia, The Banff Centre, Meredith Monk, and the So Percussion ensemble, among others.
HOLLAND ANDREWS (Musician) is an American vocalist, composer, improviser, and performance artist whose work is based on emotionality in its many forms. In their work, Andrews focuses on the abstraction of operatic and extended-technique voice to build soundscapes encompassing both catharsis and the interplay between dissonance and resonance to tell stories of the interior worlds of humanity. Frequently highlighting themes surrounding vulnerability and healing, Andrews arranges music with voice and clarinet, harnessing the innate qualities of these instruments’ power and elegance to serve as a vessel for these themes. As a vocalist, their influences stem from a dynamic range of musical stylings including contemporary opera, free jazz, musical theater, as well as ambient, drone, and noise music. In addition to creating solo work, Andrews develops and performs the soundscapes for dance, theater, and film, and whose work is still toured nationally and internationally [touring nationally and internationally]. Andrews has gained recognition from publications such as The New York Time, Uncut Magazine, Electronic Sound, NPR, and more. Holland Andrews is currently based in New York City. Andrews also performs solo music under the stage name Like a Villain.
LIZ PRINCE (Costume Designer) designs costumes for dance, theater and film and has had the great pleasure of designing for Bill T. Jones since 1991. Her work has been exhibited at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Rockland Center for the Arts and Snug Harbor Cultural Center. She received a 1990 New York Dance and Performance Award (BESSIE) and a 2008 Charles Flint Kellogg Arts and Letters Award from Bard College. She teaches costume design at SUNY Purchase College Manhattanville College, and Sarah Lawrence College.
ROBERT WIERZEL (Lighting Designer) has worked with artists in theatre, dance, new music, opera and museums, on stages throughout the country and abroad. He has worked with choreographer Bill T. Jones and his company since 1985. Projects include Blind Date, Another Evening: I Bow Down, Still/Here, You Walk?, Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land, How To Walk An Elephant, and We Set Out Early… Visibility Was Poor. Other works with Bill T. Jones include projects at the Guthrie Theatre, Lyon Opera Ballet, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Boston Ballet, Boston Lyric Opera, the Welsh dance company Diversions, and London’s Contemporary Dance Trust. Roberth has also worked with choreographers Trisha Brown, Doug Varone, Donna Uchizono, Larry Goldhuber, Heidi Latsky, Sean Curran, Molissa Fenley, Susan Marshall, Margo Sappington, Alonzo King and JoAnn Fregalette-Jansen. Additional credits include national and international opera companies, Broadway, and regional theater. Mr. Wierzel is currently on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and The Yale School of Drama.
JANET WONG (Associate Artistic Director) was born in Hong Kong and trained in Hong Kong and London. Upon graduation she joined the Berlin Ballet where she first met Bill when he was invited to choreograph on the company. In 1993, she moved to New York to pursue other interests. Ms. Wong became Rehearsal Director of the Company in 1996, Associate Artistic Director in August 2006 and Associate Artistic Director of New York Live Arts in 2016.
CHARLES COBBERTT III (Assistant Stage Manager)
A resident in West Orange, New Jersey. Charles earned a Bachelor’s degree at Montclair State University. Previous work includes being involved in production, stage management, and prop management. Specifically taking place at progressive theater and Vanguard theater in New Jersey as well as The New Group in New York City. Charles is happily excited to become a part of another theater project after a long awaited year. He can’t wait to see what talent that the performers and staff have in order to make this performance shine.
MEGAN DECHAINE (Production Stage Manager) is a New York City-based stage manager originally from Washington State. She graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Theatre. She has worked with the American Dance Festival, Sleep No More, Mimi Garrard Dance, Jody Oberfelder Projects, The Anthropologists, Sara Juli, Time Lapse Dance, Dance Lab NY, Eric Taylor Dance, University of the Arts Winter and Spring Dance Series, Bellingham Repertory Dance, Kuntz and Company, Bellingham Theatre Works, and iDiOM Theater. Megan joined the Company in 2022.
HILLERY MAKATURA (Director of Production) graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a B.F.A. in Theater. She has been touring both internationally and throughout the U.S. since 2006. She has worked as production manager for The Actors Studio, Big Art Group, Theater Mitu and Trisha Brown Dance Company.
KYLE MAUDE (Producing Director) graduated from Drake University with a B.F.A. in Theatre. She has worked with Ballet Tech/Feld Ballets New York, The Royal Ballet School of London, Buglisi-Foreman Dance, and Lesbian Pulp-o-Rama! Ms. Maude joined the Company in 2003 and served as the Company’s Production Stage Manager for ten years, then Director of Producing and Touring for three years before becoming Producing Director for New York Live Arts in 2016.
SHAY WHATSON (Sound Supervisor) Leshay “Shay” Watson, Recording and live sound engineer since 2012. Graduated from the Institute of Audio Research in 2015, since graduation she has had the privilege to work at some amazing venues like Apollo Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Shed, Barclay Center, PlayStation Theater, Lehman College. She has also worked with many popular artist and on TV shows like Showtime at the Apollo, Kelly Clarkson, 2021 Heisman, Wildin Out, Law and order SVU, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and many more.
ALEJANDRO FAJARDO (Lighting Supervisor) is a Colombian lighting designer based in Lenapehoking/Brooklyn. Alejandro strongly believes that art and imagination can help guide our communities through the current crises we face and build a new future that centers community care and growth. His recent credits include regional theater (Two River Theatre Co, Trinity Rep, St. Ann’s Warehouse), opera (OMAR at Spoleto Festival, Bard Music Festival), dance performances (Michiyaya Dance, Danspace Projects, Kafka Collective), performance festivals (NYC Free: a month-long performance festival at Little Island Park, Fall for Dance at NY City Center). Alejandro also designs escape, theatrical immersive, site lighting for music, fashion shows and other commercial events. www.alejofaj.com
JADA JENAI (Company Manager)
NEW YORK LIVE ARTS
Bill T. Jones, Artistic Director
Janet Wong, Associate Artistic Director
Kim Cullen, Executive Director/CEO
Board of Directors
Stephen Hendel, Co-Chair
Richard H. Levy, Co-Chair
Helen Haje, Vice Chair
Slobodan Randjelović, Vice Chair
Alan Marks, Treasurer
Alanna Rutherford, Secretary
Bill T. Jones, Artistic Director, Ex-Officio
Kim Cullen, Chief Executive Officer Ex-Officio
Aimee Meredith Cox
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Darnell L. Moore
Jane Bovingdon Semel
Catharine R. Stimpson
Programming, Producing, and Engagement
Kyle Maude, Producing Director
Hannah Emerson, Producer
Jessica Prince, Programming Associate
Hillery Makatura, Director of Production
Megan Dechaine, Production Stage Manager
Chanel Pinnock, Production Manager
Leo Jenks, Lighting Designer
Bjorn G. Amelan
Randjelović/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist
David Archuletta, Chief Development Officer
Alexandra Burke, Chief of Staff
Rodney J. West, Development Director
Zykeya McLeod, Development Assistant
Bianca Bailey, Community Engagement and Education Manager
Odilia Rivera-Santos, Institutional Giving Manager
Finance & Operations
Nupur Dey, Director of Finance
Manathus Dey, Finance Associate
Gregory English, Operations Manager
Marcus Retegues, Facilities Coordinator
Lutz and Carr, Certified Public Accounts
Tyler Ashley, Director of Communications
Hannah Seiden, Communications Manager
Augustus Cook, Digital Marketing Manager
Taylor Adams, Julia Antinozzi, Alondra Balbuena, Makenna Finch, Salma Kiuhan, Camden Loeser, Johnny Mathews, Cristina Moya-Palacios, Rafaela Oliveira, Kat Sauma, Anna Ticknor, Kiara Williams, Front of House Staff
Paulina Meneses, Front of House Assistant
Liliana Dirks-Goodman, Graphic Designer
Lowenstein Sandler, PC, Pro-Bono Counsel
Located in the heart of Chelsea in New York City, New York Live Arts is an internationally recognized destination for innovative movement-based artistry offering audiences access to art and artists notable for their conceptual rigor, formal experimentation and active engagement with the social, political and cultural currents of our times.
At the center of its identity is Bill T. Jones, world-renowned choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer. New York Live Arts serves as the home base for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and is the company’s sole producer, providing support and the environment to originate innovation and challenging new work for the company and the NYC creative community. New York Live Arts produces and presents dance, music and theater performances in its 20,000 square foot home, which include a 184-seat theater and two 1,200 square foot studios that can be combined into one large studio. New York Live Arts offers an extensive range of participatory programs for adults and young people and supports the continuing professional development of artists and commissions.
New York Live Arts
219 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
+1 212 691-6500 / Fax: +1 212 633-1974
COMMUNITY PARTICIPANT BIOS
RY ANDELLA was born in Pawtucket Rhode Island and started dancing with Dance Attitudes when they were three. Then they went to Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts and studied dance and subsequently joined National Dance Honors Society in 2021. Their styles studied includes; Ballet, Modern, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, PBT and more. This will be his first performance with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
ALEXA BARRIGA (they | them) is a second-generation Colombian and Cuban American, living in unceded Narragansett and Wampanoag territory, otherwise called Providence, Rhode Island. They are committed to social change work through an intersectional lens and have been supporting efforts for Reproductive Justice through grassroots organizing for the last five years. They are a founding member and the Organizing Coordinator for SISTA Fire, a member driven organization building collective power with women and nonbinary people of color for social, economic and political transformation. Alexa is a student and practitioner of somatic movement and improvisation. Their movement practices are rooted and have been shaped by contemporary dance, contact improvisation, meditation, African Diasporic and Caribbean polyrhythmic music and dance, their family’s history of migration and diaspora and the local organizing work they are a part of. They are currently studying with Body-Mind Centering®℠ under the direction of Amy Matthews.
LISA BIGGS, PhD, is an actor, playwright, and performance studies scholar originally from the Southside of Chicago. A former member of the Living Stage Theatre Company, she has appeared in productions at the Kennedy Center, Lookingglass Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, the African Continuum Theatre, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, and many more. She has toured her original theatre/dance works across the U.S., including productions at Links Hall, DC Arts Center, Baltimore Theatre Project, the National Black Theatre Festival, NY Hip Hop Theatre Fest, and Cultural Odyssey. Her most recent play, After/Life, premiered in Detroit in 2017 in conjunction with citywide events marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit rebellion. Dr. Biggs currently serves as the John Atwater and Diana Nelson Assistant Professor of the Arts and Africana Studies at Brown. Her forthcoming book, The Healing Stage: Black Women, Incarceration, and the Art of Transformation, is a combined ethnography and history of four theatre programs for women incarcerated in the U.S. and in South Africa that use theatre to encourage individual, community, institutional, and cultural healing.
MARK BINDER is an author, storyteller, playwright, poet and now movement artist. He travels the world, sharing tales that bridge boundaries for all generations. Mark has written and recorded more than two-dozen books, audiobooks and plays. He has studied Margolis Method movement and acting since 1985, and trained as an actor, director and playwright at the Trinity Rep Conservatory. He has taught “Telling Lies” at the Rhode Island School of Design, and holds a third degree black belt in Aikido. He is a former editor of Motif Magazine, and the founder of The American Story Theater. His latest works include The Race, a play for zoom performed by the Wilbury Group Theatre, Loki Ragnarok, nominated for Audie Audiobook Award for Best Original Work, and a novel under the pen name of Izzy Abrahmson called The Village Twins.
KIRA KELLY CLARKE: Kira is currently a student at Brown University and a trainee at Festival Ballet Providence. Originally from Santa Monica, California, where she had her first dance lessons, Kira has grown up studying ballet as well as character dance, contemporary, modern, and flamenco. After starting her training at Mizuno Hiroko Ballet Academy in Japan, she moved to Ontario, Canada, where she continued training in ballet at Hamilton City Ballet and the Hamilton Academy of Performing Arts. She trained under Max Ratevosian, Melania Pawliw, and other wonderful mentors. Kira also had the unique opportunity to learn from contemporary choreographers including Malgorzata Nowacka. Kira has performed Swanhilda (Coppelia), Sugar Plum Fairy and Princess Clara (The Nutcracker), and principal and featured roles in various ballet and opera productions including Carmen, Cinderella, La Traviata, Les Sylphides, and Swan Lake. She performed a featured role in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella excerpts with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (under Gemma New) at the FirstOntario Centre and appeared as a dancer in a national commercial filmed by Rodrigo Prieto. She continues to pursue dance — by performing original choreography in Brown’s Fall Dance Concert, and by dancing at Festival Ballet Providence — while studying Imagination (Cognition, Computation, and Expression) & Computer Science.
ABBY COHEN is a Junior studying English at Brown University. She started dancing at the Deborah Mason Performing Arts Center in Somerville, Massachusetts when she was 8 years old, and continued dancing there until she graduated high school in 2020. She also participated in Boston Conservatory’s Summer Dance intensive in 2019. At Brown University, she has been a part of Extension Dance Company since 2020 until its recent conclusion in spring of 2022. As a member of Extension, she both danced in and choreographed for the Fall Dance Concert and danced in the Festival of Dance. She is honored to have been selected for this opportunity to rehearse and perform with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in What Problem?
ASSITAN ‘SITA’ COULIBALY (she/her/hers) is a Malian-American dancer, choreographer, and writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Assitan began training in West African dance with New Works/World Traditions at Brown University with whom she has performed and traveled worldwide. Much of her choreographic work is greatly inspired by her study of Mande, Dance, Music and Culture. She has taught West African Dance at numerous renowned institutions nationwide. Assitan holds her B.A. in Psychology, Peace & Social Justice and French Studies from Wheaton College-MA (2017) and 200-hr Yoga Teacher Certification (B4C 2020). Assitan is one of five founding members of The Haus of Glitter Dance Company, a principal dancer with Troupe Yeredon in Mali, the acting Dance Studio Coordinator at AS220, was awarded RISCA’s Folk Arts Fellowship (2021) for her work as a preserver of Traditional Mande Dance, and was featured in Art New England Magazine’s “10 Emerging New England Artists” article (March/April 2022). In addition to her art, she is the acting Director of Legacy Arts & Education at Centre Yeredon in Bamako, Mali and a Teaching Artist and Performer with Pushed Learning and Media, a Boston-based non-profit that specializes in diversity, privilege, and racial justice education.
LAFAYETTE CRUISE is an Urban Planner and Futurist. His practice engages the intersection of urban planning and radical imagination. He leverages the experience from his early career in regional and municipal government and the world building capabilities of speculative fiction to imagine, plan, and build more equitable, just, and sustainable futures. He is a member of Guild of Future Architects’ Futurist Writers Room, a lecturer in the Rhode Island School of Design’s Architecture department, a member of NEW INC’s year 9 Collective Abundance track, and an independent creative consultant based in Providence, RI.
FREEMAN T FREEMAN received his Master’s of Social Work from the University of Buffalo in 1978, his Certified Social Work license in 1985 and his License of Clinical Social Work (The University of the State of New York) in 2004. From 1990-2014 he was self-employed in private practice in Psychotherapy, Counseling, Community Social Work, Mental Health, Crisis Management and specialized in sexual trauma treatment.
He specialized in “School Social Work” on the trauma management team in the Rochester City School District, Rochester, NY from 1990-2002. Credentials of Ministry: Ordination Date: 4th December, 2010, Universal Life Church.
He has portrayed Frederick Douglass in several venues, including the Yates County New York Historical Society, The Providence Athenaeum and the WaterFire Arts Center. He has studied and performed in a belly dancing troupe. In Rochester, he was elected President of the Actors Support Group when the Rochester Geva Community Theater was formed.
LEAH GRANT: My name is Leah and I am so excited for this new experience. I currently go to the performing arts high school JMW, where I major in dance. I can’t wait to showcase my passion for dance through my body, and the movements I can make with it. I have been dancing since I was five and have been trained it: Ballet, tap, jazz, African, and Modern. All of these different dance forms have paved the way for the person I am now. Dancing has taught me to be open and real as well as disciplined and persistent. I have felt so many emotions watching others dance as well as dancing myself. The rawness that dance can pull from you is otherworldly. When you feel the music and your body just flows, it’s the best feeling ever. I can’t wait to be dancing with so many different people of different shapes and sizes. Dance is art! And art is everything. I’m very excited to be a part of something that clearly show that.
AISHA JANDOSOVA (she/her) is Kazakh-Kyrgyz diasporic/immigrant human, designer, learner and educator, based in Providence, RI (on Wampanoag, Pokanoket and Narragansett peoples’ land). Locally, as co-founder (with Jeffrey Yoo Warren) of the NEW OLD artist-educator collective, Aisha dreams of a better old age for our future selves, designing & facilitating bold and inventive intergenerational art programs for/with older adults in senior centers and long-term care communities around the city. Beyond Providence, Aisha’s work is centered around creating space for Kazakh voices. She is co-founder of BABALAR PRESS, an experimental research, writing and publishing initiative for the study and reimagining of Kazakh ancestral knowledge(s). In parallel, Aisha is engaged in a long-term, process-based re-existencia (Achinte 2009, Tlostanova 2017) research, whereby she (re)makes the everyday aesthetic and sensory practices of her ancestors, with the hopes of remembering and reconnecting to her ancestral worlds (and resisting coloniality along the way). So far, Aisha’s journeys have included creating akïiz üy (yurt) for a 5-year old Aisha, celebrating – through reproduction in papercuts – oyu-ornek (ornaments) on oldsırmaq (felt patchwork carpets), as well as making her ownshi (wool-wrapped reed mats), kïiz (felt) and yarn.
CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON: Self-taught and award-winning poet/playwright, and new to the world of dance Christopher Johnson is presently an artist in residence at Everett Dance School and Stage as well as a cast member in their upcoming production “Bliss Body.” Christopher’s presence demands attention in a way that leaves people captivated and eager to hear more. Using words like a dancer uses movement or a painter uses color, his delivery is nuanced. There is an expressive intention in every gesture without it appearing choreographed. Able to evoke deep-seated dormant emotions through writings and performance, Johnson’s emotional expression through his art transcends race, gender, and other divisions.
AMY JOSEPH (she, her) loves the strength, support and resiliency of community and co-creating positive change. She is part of many circles including a spiritual community, Sacred Reflections of a Beauty Way. She works as an EMDR therapist in a private practice she co-founded with two friends. Once two small offices, Swansea Center for Psychotherapy is now 12 offices and a Yoga and Mindfulness studio. Helping to meet the mental health needs in RI and southeastern MA means a lot to them. Amy trained in Ballet, Modern, and African dance. She holds an MA in Expressive Arts Therapy, concentration in Dance Movement Therapy, from Lesley College Graduate School, a BS in Dance, BA in Psychology from RI College. She performed with the RIC Dance Company, Tanagra Movement Theater (Michelle Bach-Coulibaly), and Paula Hunter and Dancers in the early 1980’s and has choreographed and performed her own work. She lives in Tiverton, RI with her partner, Annie, where she loves growing flowers and herbs, kayaking and hiking. She is thrilled to be a community participant in Bill T Jones’, “What Problem?”
BRENDA MARIA (she/they) is a young Brazilian, part of the first generation of their family to go to college, and is now a sophomore studying at Brown University. Brenda started studying dance as a child in a group of “Danças Gaúchas” (Gaucho Dance) — a typical Southern dance genre from Brazil — and soon after realized their passion for art and started studying Classical Ballet, Urban Dances, and Modern Dance. They consider themself a person who transits a lot in dance genres and have already been part of traditional groups of Italian, German, and Spanish dances. Brenda likes to know people’s culture through art and dance. However, their passions are Brazilian Funk, Bachata, and Voguing. In Brazil, Brenda created a free dance group to make dance more accessible in their community, and together, the group received national and international awards for its performances. It is the first time that Brenda is going to perform outside Brazil and is really excited about this whole new experience. Nowadays, Brenda’s goal is to study Psychology with dance because believes that dance can be a therapeutic complement to the pharmacological treatments of patients diagnosed with depression.
ELIZA NOXON is an interdisciplinary artist originally from Los Angeles, California. She’s currently a second-semester Junior at Brown University, pursuing a degree in interdisciplinary artistic studies with dreams of working in large-scale installation and performance art. Eliza is so excited to be participating in this incredible production and would like to thank everyone who made it possible!
ROSEY OK: A native of Providence, RI, Rosey is a daughter of Khmer (Cambodian) refugees who migrated to the U.S after surviving the Cambodian genocide. She is a proud mother of Ra’jhon Jones. She has played an integral role with the Alliance of RI of Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE) since its inception in 2017 as its founding apprentice and currently, its Deputy Director of Partnerships & Coalitions. As a first-generation graduate, Rosey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership & Change from College Unbound and a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Youth Development from Rhode Island College. In her role, Rosey is thoroughly committed to carrying out the work through an anti-racist, and humanizing lens as well as utilizing her extensive knowledge in SEA educational experiences through her emerging leadership. Her passion is to uplift and empower youth for educational and career success by promoting authenticity and vulnerability through self-reflection and social consciousness. A firm believer and practitioner in healing communities by bringing forth a sustainable and productive impact using holistic approaches as she recognizes the power of truthtelling, accountability, and self-love to move in love, in which the work begins with and within yourself.
SOPHIA FERN PRAY: I have been nestled in the Providence community for a little over a year now while working for the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. Prior to arriving in New England, I spent most of my adult life in Colorado Springs completing my undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Urban Studies and working for Colorado College’s community engagement office. While I am a lifelong dancer, it was in Colorado that I learned about the intersections of movement-based community building and health. I devoted my time to teaching for a youth dance program and a local senior center and working as a touch therapist for hospice, experiences that have encouraged my pursuit to become a dance/movement therapist. I ultimately hope to bring more embodied work into the realm of higher education, of the kind that the “What Problem?” performance inspires, so I am thrilled to be participating in this creative project.
TIA-ALEXI ROBERTS is currently a Fancy Shawl Dancer, a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, and of Native Pride Dancers. She is the first and former Miss New England 2021 and New England’s Perfect Miss 2021. Tia came in the Top 5 at Miss New Hampshire USA in 2022 and continues to bring light to her Indigenous advocacy through Pageantry. She is pursuing her degree at Southern New Hampshire University and started her own podcast called “The Art of Being Indigenous”, to promote Indigenous Arts and Creators. Staying active with her acting and modeling career, Tia starred in a music video for the band Late 9 in 2021 and appeared on a billboard in Times Square, New York City, in 2022. Her current occupations involve freelance writing and professional modeling for Target and Walmart. Tia is an Indigenous rights activist with a passion for the arts and aspires to become a full-time writer and actress while owning an Indigenous dance studio.
ALISON C. ROLLINS is currently an MFA candidate in Literary Arts at Brown University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Howard University and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In 2019, she was named a National Endowment for the Arts Literature fellow. Her work, across genres, has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Brick, Iowa Review, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. A Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow, she was a 2016 recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. Rollins has been awarded support from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and is a recipient of the 2018 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award. A 2020 Pushcart Prize winner, her debut poetry collection Library of Small Catastrophes (Copper Canyon Press) was a 2020 Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award nominee. As a Black, queer, woman, Rollins dances between the literary and visual worlds of artistic production, centering the power of storytelling and nuanced forms of representation. Her work explores the fragile line between “human” and “nonhuman” beings, encouraging a social justice focused practice that seeks to collaborate with plants, animals, and robots across space and time.
SIRAJ SINDHU: Hi! I’m Siraj Sindhu (they/them), and I’m delighted and honored to give my energy and love to this production with the BTJ/AZ company. I’m passionate about movement and dance as forms of artistic expression and as integral parts of a woven life. I’m a middling musician, a keen gardener, a giddy cyclist, an occasional scribbler of poems and stories, a devoted parent to the sweet cat Luna, and a proud member of my union, the Graduate Labor Organization. I work as a graduate student-employee at Brown University, where I teach and study political theory. I grew up in the north country of New York State and am happy to now call the lands of the Wampanoag and Narragansett my home!
LINDA SPENCER was born and raised in Boston. She is a reproductive justice, full spectrum, community doula. She has worked primarily as a birth doula with Black and Brown, low-income families. Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Linda has taken several abortion doula trainings. She believes strongly in a person’s right and choice to bodily autonomy. Prior to her reproductive justice work, she was a career development administrator and career adviser at Harvard University. Linda loves to dance and move; she takes several weekly dance and yoga classes. Recently she joined Back Pocket Dancers, an intergenerational dance company, under the artistic direction of Andy Taylor. The company presents dance/theater programs for elders, families and children. Back Pocket Dancers uses stories and dance to bring people into a greater sense of connection and community. Fun fact: Linda was a contestant on Survivor, the CBS reality show. She is absolutely thrilled and honored to share the stage with Bill T. Jones and the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane dance company. Linda dedicates this performance and amazing opportunity to her wonderful family.
MICHELLE STRUCKHOLZ has been dancing most of her life. She received her B.S. in Dance from James Madison University in 1997, moved to NYC to “dance” (and did so) for a couple years, then ventured to San Francisco, where she was hypnotized by Kathleen Hermesdorf and Albert Mathias. She performed with their company, Motion Lab, and also with Annie Rosenthal & Company, Company Mechanique and more. Since moving to Providence in 2008, she has performed with Lostwax Multimedia Dance, Leyya Tawil, Christian Swenson, Erika Senft Miller, and most recently in “Air Stream” conceived by Lila Hurwitz and Andy Russ, as part of The Motion State Dance Festival. Her current dance interests include improvisational and site-specific work. Michelle co-owns Momentum Fitness, a personal training studio on the East Side of Providence. She and her husband, Fred, have a 9-year-old son, Elliot, who gets his fine dance moves from his mother. Michelle is more than thrilled to be participating in Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s “What Problem?”
MEG SULLIVAN is a performer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, and co-director of The Manton Avenue Project, a non-profit after school playwriting and performance program for young people in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood. Meg won a Dorry Award for best female performance in a musical production for Ada Lovelace in The Wilbury Group’s 2019 production of Cesar Alvarez’ Futurity. Also with Wilbury, Meg performed the role of Doc in Roadhouse, and most recently the title role in A Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart. Her performance alter-ego Veja Doolittle has charmed audiences at FringePVD for the past several years. Meg’s duet collaboration with dancer Heloise Gold, Reunion, won a Motif Award for 2017 Dance Production of the Year. For many years, Meg danced with award winning dance collaborative The Meeting Point in Austin. A company member of Rude Mechs, Meg toured with them to Arena Stage in DC and Center Theatre Group in LA as Annabellee in I’ve Never Been So Happy, winner of an NEA New Play Development Award. Meg holds an MFA in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas at Austin. Meg is the proud mom of Lucy, the greatest project in her life.
SHAFFANY PIAGET TERRELL, Dancer / Choreographer (she / her) previously appeared with The Wilbury Group with performances in Antigonx, Providence, Decameron, Providence “Black Death” and the Luna Loba series, 5th Generational Black Woman. Other theaters include; Trinity Rep, A Christmas Carol (2021 & 2019); Rites and Reasons Theatre, Songs of a Caged Bird (Marva); Forman Theater at Brown University, 9 Roads (Dancer); Forman Theater at Rhode Island College, 9 Roads (Dancer); Pell Chafee Performance Center, A Furtive Movement (Nadege); PVDFest; Common House Productions, JOBE (Starr); Black Box Heurisko (Dancer); Paramount Theatre, Black Nativity, (Mary); Film: Moral Docs. Shaffany majored in Musical Theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy College and Conservatory of Performing Arts in New York. She also wrote the shows Black Death and 5th Generational Black Woman. A native of the inter-cities of Boston, MA and Providence, RI, Shaffany has always felt her community was etched into her life — it’s the pulse if you listen closely you will see and hear the colors and sounds that one can dance and sing to.
KATRINA THETH was born and raised in Rhode Island. Katrina’s dance journey began at Warwick Dance and Gymnastics Academy where she was part of their competitive team. Currently, Katrina attends the only audition-based public high school in the state, Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts. There she studies modern, ballet, pointe, and Progressing Ballet Technique under Tovah Bodner Muro. In her sophomore year (2021), Katrina won first place in the Ohio University Choreography Contest. She received a scholarship from Ohio University and a tuition-free scholarship to their Summer Intensive, where she spent a week working alongside Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Throughout the week-long intensive, Katrina worked on African and contemporary-modern dance, and later performed her winning solo, “Glory,” at Ohio University. In the beginning of 2022, Katrina founded and continues to lead her school’s Kpop Dance Club, for students who are interested in dancing, performing, and Kpop. Presently, she is training at State Ballet of Rhode Island and performing in “Coppelia.” As she continues to dance, she hopes to inspire others that the arts are always an option.
JADA WOOTEN is a junior at Brown University studying dance and education to explore how arts education is therapeutic and alleviates educational inequities. Currently, Jada serves as a teaching assistant for Beginning Modern. Previously, Jada served as a teaching assistant for Dance Composition and Mande Dance, and was a member of Extension, a company dedicated to repertory, choreography, and the community. Jada’s commitment to using dance in the community extends beyond Providence. Through the Royce Fellowship for community engaged research, she taught dance to youth at community centers in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, so students had an outlet for self-expression. Jada plans to continue to use dance to strengthen the community by assisting with dance classes for patients with Parkinson’s Disease at the Hattie Chaffee Home. In Jada’s many dance spaces, she not only brings her love for community, but also a strong technical and choreographic background. Jada has danced since the age of two at companies such as at Alvin Ailey, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, and Complexions, training in ballet, pointe, jazz, hip hop, tap, modern, mande, lyrical, contemporary, and liturgical. Jada has choreographed live and film performances to tackle topics like educational equity, the environment, and bullying.
FirstWorks is a non-profit based in Providence, Rhode Island whose purpose is to build the cultural, educational and economic vitality of its community by engaging diverse audiences with world-class performing arts and education programs. Since 2004, FirstWorks festivals, performances and programs have attracted more than 700,000 participants. Central to FirstWorks’ mission is creating access to the arts and connecting the community with significant creators of our time such as Yo-Yo Ma, Urban Bush Women, Kronos Quartet and scores of local performers. FirstWorks’ education program harnesses the power of the arts and experiential learning to help over 2,000 youth annually succeed in school, life and work. Embracing collaboration, FirstWorks has fostered over 90 community partnerships across business, social service, government, arts and education sectors. As the founding partner of PVDFest, FirstWorks collaborates with the City of Providence to curate and produce the City’s free signature arts celebration, which has employed over 4,000 local luminary artists since its inception. Visit firstworks.org to learn more.
ABOUT BROWN ARTS INSTITUTE
The Brown Arts Institute (BAI) at Brown University seeks to cultivate creative expression and foster an interdisciplinary environment where faculty and students learn from one another and from artists and scholars in a wide range of fields across the campus and around the world. The BAI works collaboratively to enhance curricular and co-curricular offerings, directly engage students with prominent artists working in all genres and media, and supports a diverse program of concerts, performances, exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and symposia each year. The BAI builds upon Brown’s reputation as a destination for arts exploration, contributing to cultural enterprise through the integration of theory, practice, and scholarship with an emphasis on innovation and discovery that results from rigorous artmaking and experimentation. Visit arts.brown.edu to learn more.
TONIGHT’S PROGRAM FUNDING CREDITS
Co-presented by FirstWorks and Brown Arts Institute at Brown University
Made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. And major funding support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.* The Council seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders.
With additional support from Rhode Island Commerce, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Providence Tourism Council, The National Endowment for the Arts, and Providence Dept. of Art Culture and Tourism.
Media support from The Public’s Radio
*Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this [project] do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.