Events – Danspace Project
Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, Deborah Ratelle, Diane Fraher

Tëmikèkw: An honor and welcome gathering hosted by the First Nations Dialogues with The Lenape Center

The First Nations Dialogues with The Lenape Center honors leaders and grandmothers of Indigenous theater: Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, and Deborah Ratelle of Spiderwoman Theater and Diane Fraher of Amerinda.

The afternoon welcomes First Nations artists, Indigenous arts leaders, and allies from Australia, Canada, and the United States.

All are welcome to join in this afternoon of exchange, performance offerings, and feast.

The First Nations Dialogues acknowledges with great gratitude the naming of this gathering, Tëmikèkw. We pay respect, offering gratitude and solidarity to Lenape people, elders, and ancestors past, present and future.

Spiderwoman Theater
Spiderwoman Theater was founded in 1975, when Muriel Miguel gathered together a diverse company of women, including both of her sisters. They were of varying ages, races, sexual orientation, and worldview. The collective sprang out of the feminist movement of the 1970s and the disillusionment with the treatment of women in radical political movements of the time. Spiderwoman questioned gender roles, cultural stereotypes, and sexual and economic oppression and took on issues of sexism, racism, classism, and the violence in women’s lives. The groups interweaving of humor with popular culture and personal histories along with their sometimes shocking style, excited the hearts and spirits of their audiences, in the U.S., Canada, and all over the world.

Spiderwoman Theater broke new ground in using storytelling and “storyweaving” as the basis for their theatrical pieces. Performers wrote and performed personal and traditional stories; with Muriel as the “outside eye,” pieces were organically layered with movement, text, sound, music, and visual images.

In the early 80’s, the company emerged as a leading force for Indigenous women, artists, and cultural artisans. Indigenous communities in New York, nationally, and internationally identified Spiderwoman Theater as a powerful voice for their concerns. Sisters and elders Lisa Mayo, and Gloria and Muriel Miguel, from the Kuna and Rappahannock nations, from that time, formed the core of the company.

Spiderwoman Theater bridges traditional cultural art forms of storytelling, dance, and music with contemporary Western theater practice. Born in Brooklyn, the sisters have created work that springs from their own experiences as “city Indians”. As grandmothers of the Indigenous theater movement in the United States and Canada, they are mentors to an upcoming generation of Indigenous performers, writers and educators. In addition to presenting their own work, they collaborate with and incorporate the work of these artists into the company. The women ( and men) of Spiderwoman continue to move forward in their ambition to create an artistic environment where Indigenous culture stands on its own as a vital element of the larger arts community.

Founded in 1987 by Diane Fraher, an Osage/Cherokee filmmaker, American Indian Artists, Inc. (AMERINDA) is the only Native American multi- arts programming and services organization of its kind for contemporary Native American artists in the United States.  These artists comprise an unknown, organic, highly diverse Native American art movement, based in New York City – a movement that encompasses the founding of contemporary Native American theater and film in the United States as well as the strongest contemporary Native visual arts movement outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Native visual artists who were directly influenced by abstract expressionists, developed Native modernism and post- modernism in the visual arts. The innovative, sophisticated visceral language and provocative paradigm shifting work of Native performing, media and literary artists established contemporary Native theater and film and were some of the first Native writers and poets to be published and widely recognized. Three generations later they continue to create important work through Amerinda that advances the construct of contemporary Native American art. Amerinda’s mission is to promote the indigenous perspective in the arts to a broad audience through the creation of new work in contemporary art forms—visual, performing, literary and media. In pursuit of that mission Amerinda has launched the careers of the famous and resurrected the work of previous generations that were ignored, thus changing the landscape for Native artists working and presenting in New York City.

The First Nations Dialogues
The First Nations Dialogues has been initiated and led by Indigenous artists and organizers from the US, Canada and Australia in order to support Indigenous performance work. It is designed to create new opportunities for production and dissemination of work internationally, to overcome the historic under-representation of such work in the US and a dearth of support for artistic exchange between Indigenous communities globally.

We build on four years of convenings and conversation within formal and informal networks in the Indigenous and non-indigenous performance sectors. We build on forty years of vibrant dialogue between Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and First Nations North American contemporary theatre and dance leaders.

The First Nations Dialogues is led by the tri-nation consortium of Blakdance, Ilbijerri Theater Company, Blackfulla Performing Arts Alliance, Emily Johnson/Catalyst, Vallejo Gantner, Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance and is creating the Global First Nations Performance Network (GFNPN), a transnational, Indigenous led infrastructure and resource that will increase the amount of and capacity for Indigenous performance works.

The Lenape Center
The Lenape Center’s mission is to continue Lenapehoking, the Lenape cultural presence in New York City by promoting Lenape language and the creation, development, distribution and exhibition of Lenape arts and culture.

Photo by Ian Douglas; edited by Raja Feather Kelly
Photo by Ian Douglas; edited by Raja Feather Kelly

Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group: …they stood shaking while others began to shout

Monday, January 7, 8pm
Tuesday, January 8, 8pm
Thursday, January 10, 8pm
Friday, January 11, 8pm
Saturday, January 12, 8pm

Co-presented by Danspace Project and Gibney as part of American Realness 2019.

Commissioned and premiered on the occasion of Reggie Wilson-curated Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance (Platform 2018) …they stood shaking while others began to shout is a dynamic tapestry that recalls the past into the present moment.

This work is influenced by Wilson’s ongoing research related to Ring Shouts and traditional American Baptist, Trinidad and Tobagonian Spiritual Baptist, and Shaker praise songs. Major inspirations are the Black Shakers, particularly prominent Shaker Eldress, Mother Rebecca Cox Jackson; the Ibeji, an orisha (god) of the Yoruba religion that is represented by twins; the challenges of duets and pairing; and the 1995 work, The Littlest Baptist – Wilson’s first attempt at incorporating his field research of Black shout traditions into contemporary experimental performative theater.

Performed by Fist & Heel Performance Group: Hadar Ahuvia, Yeman Brown, Paul Hamilton, Raja Feather Kelly, Clement Mensah, Gabi Silva, Annie Wang and Michelle Yard
Live vocals by Rhetta Aleong and Lawrence Harding

(L): Arthur Avilés by Francis Giacobetti; (R) iele paloumpis by Adrien Weibgen

Food for Thought: curated by Arthur Avilés and iele paloumpis

Danspace Project’s Food for Thought series presents two unique evenings of performance selected by a different guest artist curator each night. Curators for this season are Arthur Avilés (January 25, 8pm) and iele paloumpis (January 26, 8pm)

Admission for each night of Food for Thought is $5 with 2 cans of food, or $10 with no cans!

Friday, January 25, 8pm
curated by Arthur Avilés
featuring artists:
Arthur Avilés
Alethea Pace 
Matthew Perez/ColemanCollective
Richard Rivera / PHYSUAL 

Saturday, January 26, 8pm
Pulling Back the Shroud: uncovering and reimagining our relationships
curated by iele paloumpis
featuring artists:
mayfield brooks
Marielys Burgos Meléndez
Kayvon Pourazar
Ita Segev

Canned goods collected through Food for Thought are donated to The Momentum Project. The Momentum Project fosters health and wellness by providing nutritious communal meals and supportive services to any person in need in New York City, especially those living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic illness.