Visiting Artist | Site Visit October 13 - 15, 2017 / March 4 - 17, 2018
Let ‘im Move You: This Is a Formation
Jumatatu Poe and his entire creative team came to MANCC to continue to develop Poe’s Let ‘im Move You series. This set of works draws from J-Sette, a dance form with origins in southern drill teams and 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 is developing and directing a series of performances informed by J-Sette to examine the idea of “team” in performance. Let ‘im Move You is staging iterations in black box theaters and white box gallery spaces, as well as intervention-style performances in historically and/or predominantly Black neighborhoods, testing the boundaries of propriety and belonging, and confronting the historic imaginations and limitations of these spaces.
Poe’s two-week residency followed a three-day site visit to MANCC last fall, in which Poe met with members of the FAMU Diamond Dance team, which practices J-Sette, and attended their Homecoming Weekend performances.
For the residency, Poe and Beacham conducted a series of workshops with the FAMU Diamonds to further explore J-Sette culture and history. They also explored how and where to stage outdoor guerilla-style versions of the performance, especially in cities like Tallahassee that are governed by car culture. This was a continuation of their research on how to move into new environments and communities with varying laws of governance (stated or assumed).
In MANCC’s black box theater, the artists tested integrations of live DJed sound and manipulated media design. The performance cast consists of two groups of dancers - one from Dallas trained in club aesthetics, and one from Philadelphia trained in contemporary Africanist dance forms. Both groups perform at an intersection of masculine and feminine embodiments. In addition to the project’s DJ and video designer, the group was joined by Shani Akilah, an anti-oppression/pro-liberation organizer and member of Philadelphia’s blaQollective, as an ethical artistry guide.
In the second week of the residency Poe and his collaborators held two informal work-in-progress showings. The first showing focused on audience interaction, and explored ways of interactively engaging audience members in the same space as the performers. The second showing was a more formal version of the work for a proscenium stage space.
As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Poe and his collaborators were also joined by two scholars, Dr. Jasmine Johnson, Assistant Professor of Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University, and noted cultural theorist Dr. Thomas DeFrantz, who, in addition to his work as a choreographer and performer, is a faculty member in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University. This initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to support the re-imagining of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms.
The Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia will produce the premiere of Let ‘im Move You: This is a Formation in February 2019.