Will Rawls

Will Rawls is a New York-based choreographer, performer and writer. His work has appeared at the MoMA and MoMA PS1; MCA, Chicago; Danspace Project; New Museum of Contemporary Art; Issue Project Room; Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; Walker Arts Center. At Danspace Project, he co-curated Lost and Found, comprised of performances and artist projects focused on the intergenerational impact of HIV/AIDS on dancers, women, and people of color. His writing has been published by Artforum International, the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Modern Art. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Robert Rauschenberg Residency, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant, and the 2021 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. He teaches and lectures widely in university, community and festival contexts.

Visiting Artist | November 22 - 30, 2021

[siccer]

Will Rawls engaged in a remote second residency during which he continued to work on his stop motion film and performance, [siccer]. This residency was hosted by MANCC remotely through the Petronio Residency Center (PRC) in Round Top, New York in response to the COVID –19 Delta Variant transmission in Florida. 

Building from the editorial term for a misspelled word, "[sic]", [siccer] is a dance and film project challenging widespread citation and misrepresentation of black bodies. An interdisciplinary artist, Rawls uses [siccer] to consider the history of images surrounding black bodies, the narrow avenues of expression that exist for black people in the media, and the relation of photography to black bodies.
   
This residency followed a film-making residency at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) where Rawls looked into methods of filmmaking and stop motion film. He and his collaborative team then spent their time together at the PRC exploring how the filmic and choreographic elements of [siccer] can be further developed through screenwriting, character, and storyboarding components of filmmaking. Rawls also investigated these through written and filmic analysis of revolutionary filmmakers such as William Greaves and Wendell B. Harris Jr.

Rawls will continue to receive writing and research support from MANCC in the form of a residency retreat with [siccer]’s writer and dramaturg Kemi Adeyemi in Los Angeles from December 13 – 16, 2021, as part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative. Adeyemi will join Rawls to continue their joint efforts towards the [siccer] book, an edited anthology of writers engaged in the intersections of black performance, visual culture, and cultural practice in the 21st century—particularly in a post-Black Lives Matter era when black performance and black visibility are rapidly evolving vis à vis institutional representation. MANCC will also provide additional commissioning support to towards the launch of this book project, which will contribute to both dance and visual arts fields. Projected completion date of the book is Fall 2023. Rawls will also receive research support in the form of Florida State University scholar meetings in January 2022.
 
[siccer] is set to premiere in 2023 at The Kitchen, NYC.
 
This residency and the Embedded Writers Initiative and Commissioning Program is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  •  [siccer] rehearsal image, 2021. photo by: Will Rawls
  •  [siccer] rehearsal image, 2021. photo by: Will Rawls
  •  [siccer] rehearsal image, 2021. photo by: Will Rawls

Collaborators in Residence: Holland Andrews, keyon gaskin, jess pretty, Katrina Reid, Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste [Performers], Adekemi Adeyemi [Writer]

Visiting Artist | September 8 - 20, 2019

[siccer]

Will Rawls came to MANCC for the first time to further the development of [siccer]. Building from the editorial term for a misspelled word, "[sic]", [siccer] is a dance and film project challenging widespread citation and misrepresentation of black bodies. An interdisciplinary artist, Rawls uses [siccer] to consider the history of images surrounding black bodies, the narrow avenues of expression that exist for black people in the media, and the relation of photography to black bodies. Simultaneously, he questions the ways in which movement disintegrates images to create time-based experiences. Exploring the restlessness of gesture and language as strategies of black performance, [siccer] cultivates elusiveness and abstraction to resist the "racial gristmill" of mass media.

The film portion of [siccer] uses stop-motion film, which is a collection of moving images that are animated to create movement without sound. In this collection of moving images, Rawls questions the labor of being a body inside of a photograph, ultimately using this film as a metaphor for mass media.

Following an intensive film-making residency in Los Angeles, Rawls and his collaborative team focused their time at MANCC on development of the movement and language portions of the work. As part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Kemi Adeyemi joined the residency. Adeyemi is Assistant Professor of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington and leads the Black Embodiments Studio, an arts writing incubator and public lecture series rooted in expansive and dynamic investigations of blackness in contemporary art. Upon completion of the project, Adeyemi and Rawls plan to create a literary publication that they describe as “writing alongside the project,” under the working title Sensitivity Training.

During their collaborative time at MANCC, Rawls, Adeyemi, and four additional dance artists from across the country worked to understand how movement of the voice can undo fixity and meaning. Rawls used scores that involve loud camera shutter clicks as a means, in part, to invoke the idea of documentation and labor. They shared their ongoing research during an informal showing in the School of Dance, which included both live movement and stop motion film. Rawls also had the opportunity to meet with Professor Ravi Howard who teaches in the English Department at FSU in the areas of creative writing, fiction, creative nonfiction, and African-American narratives. The two discussed the topic of regional blackness, the role of gesture, and the overlaps in generating embodied material versus that which lives in language.

[siccer] will premiere in 2021 at The Kitchen in NYC.

Support for Adeyemi’s time at MANCC was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


 

  • Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and jess pretty engage in the rehearsal process
  • Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and Katrina Reid engage in the rehearsal process
  • Katrina Reid, Holland Andrews and jess pretty at work in the studio
  • WIll Rawls and Jeremy Toussaint=Baptiste improvising during rehearsal
  • Kemi Adeyemi watching a rehearsal
  • Holland Andrews and Katrina Reid engaged in a rehearsal
  • Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and Holland Andrews create a sound score
  • Will Rawls addresses his collaborators in the studio
  • Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and African-American Narratives, Ravi Howard, and Will Rawls<br>engage in conversation during an Entrypoint
  • Katrina Reid and keyon gaskin during the rehearsal process
  • Katrina Reid provides improvisational vocals while performing during rehearsal
  • Will Rawls during filming of his stop motion film project
  • Holland Andrews and Katrina Reid during filming of the stop motion project
  • Holland Andrews and keyon gaskin during the rehearsal process
  • Katrina Reid and jess pretty during a rehearsal
  • keyon gaskin provides improvisational vocals while jess pretty performs in rehearsal
  • keyon gaskin, Katrina Reid, jess pretty and Holland Andrews engaged in a reheasal
  • Kemi Adeyemi and Will Rawls observe their collaborators rehearsing
  • jess pretty and Holland Andrews perform during a rehearsal
  • Will Rawls addresses an audience before a Work-in-Progress showing
  • keyon gaskin and Holland Andrews perform during the Work-in-Progress Showing
  • Katrina Reid performs during the Work-in-Progress Showing.
  • keyon gaskin and Katrina Reid performing during the Work-in-Progress showing
  • jess pretty answers audience questions after the showing with her collaborators
  • Will Rawls addresses a question after his showing

Collaborators in Residence: Holland Andrews, keyon gaskin, jess pretty, Katrina Reid, Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste [Performers], Adekemi Adeyemi [Writer]

World Premiere

Ronald K. Brown

The Equality of Night
and Day (TEND)

June 29 - July 3
Jacob's Pillow Dance
Festival (MA)

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