School for the Movement of the Technicolo(u)r People
taisha paggett and WXPT in collaboration with Ashley Hunt and Kim Zumpfe
WXPT Toronto company: Ella Cooper, Rodney Diverlus, Bishara Elmi, Aisha Sasha John, Ashley Perez, and Danielle Smith
September 12—October 26, 2019
Opening Reception and Performance:
Thursday, September 12, 6:00—9:00pm
Free Saturday School:
Saturdays, September 14 through October 26, 12:00—5:00pm
Gallery TPW is thrilled to present the School for the Movement of the Technicolo(u)r People, a large-scale artist exchange, exhibition, and public school platform. The project was created through the artistic direction of Los Angeles-based dance artist taisha paggett in collaboration with visual artists Ashley Hunt (LA), Kim Zumpfe (LA) and WXPT Toronto, with curatorial and dramaturgical support from artist/scholar Seika Boye (TO). Convened in memory of the segregation-era CB Dansby High School for Black youth in East Texas, the School builds a site/home and experimental curriculum that responds to the limited positioning of Black and queer movers in the worlds of dance, visual art, and beyond. The School in Toronto follows previous iterations in Los Angeles, Austin, and Houston.
Transformed through architectural interventions, video, and photo-choreographic scores, Gallery TPW is envisioned as a dance studio and school whose typical elements are reimagined, providing a tactile space suspended in a cycle of construction, collapse, unearthing, tunneling, lifting, and balance. As a cross-border exchange, the work lives within a shared legacy of US/Canadian forced and voluntary migrations, the mining of both land and bodies, and memories of erased Black histories, to bring forth new possibilities of collective movement and embodiment within the everyday practices and grammars of social struggle.
Through a free Saturday curriculum of movement-based classes, workshops, and conversations—some open to all, others open to participants with specific experiences—the School seeks to address a guiding conceptual question: “What is a Black. Dance. Curriculum. Today?” Here “Black dance” is intended not just to point to the canon of African diasporic dance but to the perpetually unstable condition and resiliency of Black life in Canada and the United States. The curriculum will investigate ideas of kinship, intimacy, and care; succumbing and resistance to gravity; body printing and the metaphor of dye/dying; collective recitations and trance; strategies of capturing movement for the camera; and the multiple possibilities of support inside collective improvisational dancing.
The curriculum will also feature workshops and talks by US and Canadian guest artists, thinkers, and organizers whose creative research sits in critical dialogue with fundamental ideas of the project. Created by the temporary dance company, WXPT (we are the paper, we are the trees), Toronto artists Ella Cooper, Rodney Diverlus, Bishara Elmi, Aisha Sasha John, Ashley Perez, and Danielle Smith will lead and facilitate the Saturday school activities for its duration.
The Saturday school will take place September 14 through October 26, 2019.
Stay tuned for upcoming details about classes and free School registration.
taisha paggett is a dance artist whose individual and
collaborative interdisciplinary works re-articulate and collide specific western choreographic practices with the politics of daily life in order to interrupt fixed notions of queer Black embodiment, desire and survival. Such works include the dance company project, WXPT (we are the paper, we are the trees) and the collaborative School for the Movement of the Technicolo(u)r People, both of which seek to reframe and radicalize concepts held within contemporary dance by way of an intersection with social practice; experimental pedagogy; somatic and contemplative investigations; queer, feminist and Black studies; performance and visual art studies; and the political and philosophical meshes of personal history.
paggett’s work has been presented at the Hammer Museum as part of Made in LA; Commonwealth & Council (LA); Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LA); Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia); DiverseWorks (Houston); the Whitney Biennial; Studio Museum in Harlem; Danspace at St Mark’s Church (New York); and Simon Fraser University and the Audain Gallery (Vancouver), amongst other venues. Project support has come via the MAP Fund (in partnership with LACE), the National Performance Network, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, Clockshop and the California Community Foundation; Show Box LA; Toronto Arts Council (with Gallery TPW), and residencies at the Headlands (Sausalito, CA), Light Box (Detroit); and University of British Columbia, Okinagan, Summer Indigenous Studies program. paggett is the 2019 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Merce Cunningham Award.
paggett has had that honor to work with many artists and projects over the years including Every House Has a Door, David Roussève/REALITY, Victoria Marks, Kelly Nipper, Meg Wolfe; Yael Davids; Ashley Hunt, and Anya Cloud and Rebeca Salzar’s latest video "the window kind of opens by itself." From 2005-13 paggett co-instigated, with Wolfe, the LA-based dance project zine, itch. paggett received a BA in Art History from UC Santa Cruz, an MFA from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and is an associate professor of dance at UC Riverside.
Dr. Seika Boye is a scholar, writer, educator and artist whose practices revolve around dance and movement. She is a Lecturer in the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, Director of the Institute for Dance Studies, and Adjunct Curator at The Art Museum, University of Toronto. Boye also works as an advocate and consultant for dance across the arts sector.
From 1995-2010 Boye performed and presented her choreography across Canada. More recently she has worked as a movement dramaturg/artistic advisor with artists/collectives including Djanet Sears, Deanna Bowen, Syreeta Hector and Mix Mix Dance Collective and adelhied dance projects' re:research intensive. Invested in movement histories and the archive, Boye curated the archival exhibition It’s About Time: Dancing Black in Canada 1900-1970. From August 2018—February 2019 she was Artist-in-Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario where she created This Living Dancer, a self-archiving and archival simulation installation project.
Boye's writing has appeared in numerous scholarly journals and performing arts magazines including Canadian Theatre Review, alt:theatre, Dance Chronicle, and Dance Collection Danse Magazine. She was recently a featured reader at the Draft Reading Series.
Seika lives and works in Toronto with her husband and their two sons.
Ella Cooper is an award winning filmmaker, interdisciplinary artist, photographer, impact producer, and facilitator based in Toronto. Cooper’s creative practice explores themes of racialized identity, Canadian diaspora, reclamation, embodied landscapes, ecstatic nudes, contemporary dance, and representations of the Black female body in Western visual culture. Her work has been presented in galleries, public spaces, festivals, and for broadcast across Canada, the US, and Europe. This includes the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council’s Art Bank gallery, Cinedans, and Bell Media with recent dance film screenings and exhibitions in Berlin, Amsterdam, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Cooper receives continued support from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council, as well as being a recipient of a City of Vancouver award, a 2017 Toronto Arts Council Cultural Leader and a recent artist in residence for at the Banff Centre for the Arts. As the founder of Black Women Film! Canada she is passionate about creating and facilitating transformational leadership and arts equity programs for diverse communities in Canada, US, Jamaica, and South Africa. She is one of the top featured artists on CBC Arts ‘The Exhibitionists’ and enjoys being a featured speaker and guest facilitator for national and international conferences.
Rodney Diverlus is a Port-Au-Prince-born, Toronto-based movement artist, creator, and provocateur. His work weaves in dance, physical theatre, puppetry, and voice and teases out jazz, contemporary, and Afrikanic modalities. His work excavates and dissects the Black Canadian existence in the now; specifically, Black moving bodies thrust on, and paraded around anomalous spaces, be it the streets, phone screen, shipping container, art gallery, or alleyway. He has performed throughout Canada and the Caribbean in dance, theatre, and opera.
He uses his body and voice as sites to interpret text & rhythms, weaving in ancestral and diasporic narratives of blackness, queerness. His works have been presented at the Irie Music Festival, Summerworks Performance Festival, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gardiner Museum, DanceMatters, The Gladstone, Footsteps Across Canada Showcase, Annual Alberta Dance Festival, Fashion Arts Toronto, and Tableau d’Hôte Theatre.
An ardent artivist, Rodney’s creative work spills onto a passion for activism and community organizing. Rodney is co-founder of Black Lives Matter — Toronto and co-leading the development of Black Lives Matter Canada. As a lead architect of BLM's presence and actions in Canada, he is grateful for the opportunity to co-curate and re-imagine radical Black activism in Canada today.
Bishara Elmi is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and educator working in various art forms and with numerous materials and creative processes. Bishara’s work focuses on Black geographies and exile, and the many stories and concepts within that. Bishara lives in Toronto by way of Mogadishu.
Ashley Hunt is interested in how images, objects, writing, performance, and teaching can engage the ideas, perceptions and actions of daily life, and the disciplinary boundaries that separate our art worlds from the larger worlds in which they sit. Rather than seeing art and activism as two exclusive spheres of practice, he approaches them as mutual and complimentary—drawing upon the ideas and aesthetics of social movements, cultural theory and art alike, the theorizing and practices of each informing the other. Hunt has dedicated the bulk of his career to documenting the expansion of the U.S. prison system, as it expresses the U.S.’ racial and economic histories and continues to shape social and political life, while working in collaborative and community-based projects that envision and map the world differently. Hunt’s works have been presented in venues ranging from the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum in New York, Project Row Houses and Diverseworks in Houston, Beta Local in Puerto Rico, the Blackwood Gallery in Toronto, the Tate Modern in London, the Hammer Museum in LA, Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany, to grassroots community centers, prisons, bookstores, spaces of worship and activist forums throughout the U.S. and abroad. Recent writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books (2018), the Oxford Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (2017), Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (MIT Press 2016), Social Medium: Artists Writing: 2000–2015 (Paper Monument 2016), X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly (2014), Shifter Magazine #20 (2013). Hunt directs the Program in Photography and Media at CalArts.
Aisha Sasha John’s medium is energy and her primary methodology is vesselhood: she articulates a listening practice across the fields of dance and poetry. Aisha is interested in choreographing performances that are the occasion for real and multitudinous actions of love—in developing Sasha John technique. Aisha is the 2019-2022 Dancemakers Artist-in-Residence; in 2020 she will remount her solo the aisha of is which premiered at the Whitney Museum in 2017. From 2015-2017, Aisha choreographed and performed as a member of the collective WIVES, presenting Feeled (OFFTA, 2016) and Action Movie (La Chapelle, 2017) and curating two editions of Assemblée as Studio 303 Curators-in-Residence. She is author of the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize nominated collection, I have to live. (M&S 2017), as well as THOU (Book*hug 2014), finalist for the Trillium and Relit Poetry Awards. Aisha’s video work and text art have been exhibited in galleries (Doris McCarthy Gallery, Oakville Galleries) and was commissioned by Art Metropole as part of a performance residency Aisha led: Let’s understand what it means to be here (together). Aisha was the 2018 University of Toronto (Scarborough) Writer-in-Residence.
Ashley Perez also known as Colours is a dancer and choreographer making waves in the Canadian dance scene. Training in funk styles and hip-hop, she later specialized in voguing, waacking, and house with mentors Jose Xtravaganza (New York), Archie Burnett (New York), Caleaf Sellers (New York), Jojo Zolina (Vancouver), and Kaiti Dangerkat (Calgary/New York).
Ashley is co-artistic director or Mix Mix Dance Collective with whom she has co-created two full-length works and represented Canada at the 2017 Jeux de la Francophonie in Abidjan. Mix Mix has completed an artist residency at York Woods Library and presented new work at Fall for Dance North in 2017 and Contemporaneity 3.0 in 2019. Ashley was awarded the 2018 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance, Ensemble in the Dance Division for Floor’d presented by Holla Jazz in 2018. Ashley was a resident choreographer and performer with the artist collective House of Dangerkat. Developing works that allowed her to travel and perform in places such as New York, London and Paris. Her most recent teaching enterprise has been Class with Colours, to share the essence of Whacking—the glam, sass, and punk—with people of all backgrounds.
These workshops have popped up at spaces such as Sketch Studio (Artscape Youngplace), Lululemon Attic, and Parks N’ Wreck 2016/17/18.
Danielle Smith is a Toronto-based movement artist and RMT with a multi-disciplinary focus. The first half of her RMT career centered on Sports Massage Therapy, and the last decade has focused on bridge-building between Healing Arts and Performing Arts with a focus on ancestral reclamation, body memory, and movement. The deep listening skills refined in her massage practice directly transfer to her body-based improv movement arts practice.
As an artist focused on healing justice, Danielle’s practice spans from interventionist street performance addressing imperialist transnational violence in Toronto, Jamaica, and Colombia, to apprenticeship in the Arrival’s Personal Legacy Process, where she co-facilitated workshops throughout Canada, the Caribbean, and the UK. She worked with Chocolate Woman Collective as a Somatic Specialist facilitating trauma-informed body and movement work. She completed the Transdisciplinary Arts Program at Watah Theatre, producing performances based on d’bi anitafrika’s SORPLUSI methodology, alongside being the resident Health Care Practitioner and Anatomy Instructor. She completed the Luminous Bodies residency focusing on embodied ancestral research with continued work on indigo. She is now a Master of Environmental Studies Candidate examining the pathologization and resilience of the body in its relationship to indigo as a slave crop, through a framework of Black women’s geographies.
Kim Zumpfe is an artist, writer, and educator who works with the relationships between boundaries of physical and cognitive spaces as an inquiry into place and placement, including territories that constitute and extend beyond location. Through individual and collaborative work, the built environment is resituated as a way to address the deep entwinement between materials, images, space, performance, and sociality as models of relations. Zumpfe works with experimental forms of participation to propose an expansive interior and social body that can transcend perceived and actual limits. Primarily working in installation, encounters are considered where the body experiences and integrates in environments influenced by media-driven and object-oriented systems. Zumpfe works to expand alternate possibilities in the order of things through working with architectures that engage with space as a psychology and qualities of bent time(s) including the provisional, unstable, and illegible.
Zumpfe’s work has been exhibited at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Torrance Art Museum, CSUF Grand Central Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Hammer Museum, Human Resources Los Angeles, Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA), UCR Culver Center for the Arts Riverside, and several public and online sites.