Jumatatu Poe

I am a choreographer and performer based between Philadelphia and New York City who grew up dancing around the living room and at parties with my siblings and cousins. My early exposure to concert dance was through African dance and capoeira performances on California college campuses where my Pan-Africanist parents studied and worked, but I did not start formal dance training until college with Umfundalai, Kariamu Welsh’s contemporary African dance technique. My work continues to be influenced by various sources, including my foundations in those living rooms and parties, my early technical training in contemporary African dance, my continued study of contemporary dance and performance, my movement trainings with dancer and anatomist Irene Dowd around anatomy and proprioception, my sociological research of and technical training in J-sette performance with Donte Beacham. Through my artistic work, I strive to engage in and further dialogues with Black queer folks, create lovingly agitating performance work that recognizes history as only one option for the contextualization of the present, and continue to imagine options for artists’ economic and emotional sustainability.

I produce dance and performance work independently, as well as in collaboration with idiosynCrazy productions, a company I founded in 2008 and now co-direct with Shannon Murphy. Most recently, the company serves as a resource to produce public dialogues around the integrations of art into society, and the social responsibility of the artist. Collaboration is often essential for my work, and I have recently co-created performance work with choreographers Jermone Donte Beacham, Jesse Zaritt, and Shannon Murphy.  Previously, I have danced with Marianela Boán, Silvana Cardell, Emmanuelle Hunyh, Tania Isaac, Kun- Yang Lin, C. Kemal Nance, Marissa Perel, Leah Stein, Keith Thompson, Kate Watson-Wallace, Reggie Wilson, Jesse Zaritt, and Kariamu Welsh (as a member of Kariamu & Company). As a performer, I also collaborate with Merián Soto. I am an Assistant Professor of Dance at Swarthmore College.

I have performed my work in various cities around the US and in Europe and South America, and I have received various awards including: a 2010-2011 Live Arts Brewery Fellowship (Philadelphia),  2010-2012 annual Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Performance Grants, a 2011-2013 Community Education Center Residency Fellowship (Philadelphia), a 2012 Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Fellowship (Philadelphia), a 2013 NRW Tanzrecherche Fellowship (Germany), a 2013 New York Live Arts Studio Series residency with Jesse Zaritt (NYC), a 2016 Independence Fellowship (Philadelphia), a 2016 18th Street Arts Center creative residency (Santa Monica), a 2017 Rocky Dance Award (Philadelphia), a 2017 Sacatar Residency Fellowship (Bahia, Brazil), a 2017 MAP Fund Grant, a 2017 NEFA NDP Production Grant, three Swarthmore College Cooper Foundation grants for presenting other artists (Swarthmore, PA).

My middle name is Mtafuta-Ukweli, which means “one who searches for the truth”.

Visiting Artist | Site Visit October 13 - 15, 2017 / March 4 - 17, 2018

Let ‘im Move You: This Is a Formation

Jumatatu Poe comes to MANCC for his first residency to develop Let ‘im Move You: This Is a Formation, a new dance work drawing from J-Sette, a dance form with origins in southern drill teams, made popular on majorette lines at historically Black universities and on independent squads in the gay African American club scene. In collaboration with J-Sette performer Jermone “Donte” Beacham, Poe will develop and direct a series of projects informed by this dance form and its performance codes to examine the idea of “team” in performance. The piece will incorporate live and manipulated video design that will reference pop-star-scale megalomania and the hyper-surveillance of Black bodies, and live DJ-ing that will transform familiar pop and club beats into non-traditional time signatures. While Let ‘im Move You will be staged in black box theaters and white box gallery spaces, Poe and Beacham will also organize intervention performances in historically and/or predominately Black neighborhoods, testing the boundaries of propriety and belonging in these settings. Throughout, the project will confront the historic imaginations and limitations of such respective spaces.

While at MANCC, Poe and Beacham will explore how to and where to stage these outdoor guerilla performances in cities governed by car culture. The artists will also continue their work of figuring out how to move the work into new environments and communities with varying laws of governance (stated or assumed).

The artists will utilize MANCC’s black box theater to test integrations of live DJed sound and manipulated media design. Poe and Beacham will also engage with FAMU’s Diamond Dance team to further explore J-sette culture. The artists will be joined by two groups of dancers - one group rehearsing in  the south (Dallas) who are dancers trained in club aesthetics, and one group rehearsing in the north (Philly) who are dancers trained in contemporary Africanist dance form aesthetics - who perform at an intersection of masculine and feminine embodiments. Other collaborators in residence in addition to the project’s DJ and video designer will include a researcher, contextualizer and agitator guide, and an ethical artistry guide. 

As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Poe and his collaborators will be joined by Jasmine Johnson who is an Assistant Professor of Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. This initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to support the re-imaging of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms.

Poe and Johnson will come to Tallahassee for a two and a half day pre-residency site visit October 13-15, 2017 in order to begin to lay the groundwork for their spring residency that will include community interactions.

Painted Bride Art Center will produce the premiere of Let ‘im Move You in August 2018.

  • Photos Coming Soon
Collaborators in Residence: Jermone "Donte" Beacham [Dancer], Zen Jefferson [DJ], Wendell Cooper [Video Design], Jasmine Johnson [Writer]

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