McKnight Artist Fellow | January 7 - 18, 2019
Susana di Palma, a McKnight Fellow and Founder and Artistic Director of Zorongo Flamenco Dance based in Minneapolis, MN, came into residence at MANCC for the first time to further the development of a new work titled Casita. This work emanates from stories collected from homeless women and intends to explore what “home” means in various contexts and the experience of what it is like to live an alternative lifestyle, without shelter.
The work’s content is central to di Palma, who is a volunteer at St. Stephen’s Homeless Shelter in Minneapolis and has listened deeply to those in residence there, and observed their individual difficulties in striving to survive without a home. At the heart of this work is the examination of what “home” means to individuals. To further understand homelessness in Tallahassee as it compares to Minneapolis, di Palma met with Sara Jean Hargis, Volunteer and Donations Coordinator at the Big Bend Homeless Coalition. In addition to touring the premises, di Palma learned about the HOPE Community program, which supports homeless women and families with children by providing food and shelter, as well as the opportunity to stay in their facilities for up to six months.
While in residence, di Palma and her collaborators showed the work in progress to community members as well as School of Dance students and faculty, followed by a discussion. Passionate about the furtherance of Flamenco as a dance form, di Palma and d’Arc Casas taught two Flamenco master classes to School of Dance students. These student dancers enjoyed learning a wide array of Flamenco vocabulary, as well as basic history about the form’s origins in the Andalucía region of southern Spain and the key elements of the accompanying guitar and vocals.
Five performances of Casita took place at the Lab Theater in Minneapolis in April 2019, as part of Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theater’s season, What the Moon Sees. The premiere of Casita was be interwoven into the evening program with other contemporary flamenco works, ultimately spotlighting the fact that the homeless experience is one that is neither talked about nor acknowledged in contemporary American society.
This residency was supported, in part, by a partnership with McKnight Choreographer Fellowships, funded by The McKnight Foundation and administered by The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts.