DraftWork: Candace Thompson / Tara Aisha Willis – Danspace Project
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DraftWork: Candace Thompson / Tara Aisha Willis

Photo: Corey Melton

Curated by Ishmael Houston-Jones, the DraftWork series hosts informal Saturday afternoon performances that offer choreographers an opportunity to show their work in various stages of development. Performances are followed by discussion and a reception with the artists and curator.

Candace Thompson, a Trinidad and Tobago native, is a dancer, choreographer and certified fitness professional specializing in personal training and corrective exercise. She is the beauty and brains behind CanDanceFit, Artistic Director of ContempoCaribe and Founding Executive Director of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE. Her dance training is extensive, beginning in Trinidad and Tobago, where she received instruction in modern dance and ballet, at La Danse Caraibe under Heather Henderson-Gordon. She is a graduate of Adelphi University’s BFA in Dance with the Ruth St. Denis Award for excellence from the dance department, and has gone on to work in various dance styles including Afro-Caribbean, Classical Modern, Modern/Contemporary, Contemporary Floor Technique, Jazz, Soca and West African. CanDanceFit, a personal training, corrective exercise and movement instruction entity, serves clients and studios in Manhattan and Brooklyn, conveniently bringing holistic fitness, exercise, dance and movement programs to fitness enthusiasts short on time, but big on quality and studios delivering high quality training. Additionally, Candace has extended experience in the Gyrotonic Expansion system, Laban/Bartenieff Fundamentals, Myofascial Release and in Ballet, Horton, Dunham, Graham, Soca and Afro-Caribbean Dance Techniques. CanDanceFit merges the benefits of dance training with fitness and personal training strategies to serve both the average individual and the budding to professional performer. Currently, Candace does in-home training for clients in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and teaches Soca and Modern Dance at Mark Morris Dance Center and Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Candace produces her own dance work under two umbrellas: ContempoCaribe and Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE. ContempoCaribe is a choreography and performance project creating art that embodies the plurality of experiences within the Caribbean Diaspora. ContempoCaribe’s work has been performed at Dance Caribbean Collective’s New Traditions Festival, COCO Dance Festival (Trinidad), Dancing While Black:jumpin fences, Dance Enthusiast’s Moving Caribbean in NYC among others. Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE is a collaborative and organising body, creating platforms for artists developing work from a Caribbean perspective, to show their work within the local diaspora community in NYC. DCC produces a season of events leading up to the annual New Traditions Festival. As a performer, Candace is attracted to dance work that is challenging both physically and emotionally, and is especially motivated to dance the stories of the Caribbean and its Diaspora. Her performing experience spans two regions: Trinidad and Tobago and North America. Other accomplishments include being invited to the inaugural Dancing While Black Fellowship Cohort 2015/2016 and being an honored Alumna for Adelphi University’s 2016/2017 10 Under 10 program for young alumni, who have achieved exceptional career accomplishments before celebrating their 10-year reunion.

Tara Aisha Willis is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU. Currently Women & Performance’s performance reviews editor, she has served as TDR’s co-managing editor, and co-edited, with Thomas F. DeFrantz, an issue of The Black Scholar on black dance studies (2016). Additional writings appear in Movement Research Performance Journal, The Brooklyn Rail, and Magazin im August. As Movement Research’s Program Advisor, she coordinates diversity initiatives, including the Artists of Color Council, and programs their discursive Studies Project series. She is currently dancing in a collaboration between Will Rawls and Claudia Rankine, as well as in works by Ivy Baldwin, Kim Brandt, and Yanira Castro. She recently was dramaturg on an in-process collaboration between Ni’Ja Whitson and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. Her choreography has been shown at Movement Research at Judson Church, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Roulette, THROW, Dixon Place, The Painting Center, AUNTS, the CURRENT SESSIONS, and CPR. She was a 2009 Dance Theater Workshop Van Lier Fellow and a 2016 Chez Bushwick Artist in Residence.