Out From the Deep: A Meditation for Them Turners is a new work created to honor the life and memory of Mary Turner, who was brutalized and lynched while 8-months pregnant after publicly objecting to her husband’s murder. This piece compels audiences to encounter truths that grapple with and work to overcome trauma. Its movements and imagery draw upon the hidden tenderness and strength: nature’s streams, veins and pathways of nurture and transformation. It presents kaleidoscopes of sacred geometries in which patterns might dislodge and open cascades of new configurations of truths hidden in plain sight. This immersive dance work sits at the intersection of dance on film, virtual reality, movement as meditation and performance art installation.
Presented virtually and free to the public, this signature work will allow audiences an opportunity to witness the epic collaboration of T. Lang, creative director and choreographer; Michelle Hite, dramaturg; Kris Pilcher, systems imagineer; Torey Best and Jonathan Eldrige, sound composers; Morgan Amairah Burns And Xavier Lewis, movement artists; ET Productions, digital production; and Ayana Dubose, creative research intern. This work is supported by Fulton County Arts & Culture.
A Graveyard Duet of the Past Now serves as a site of intervention into prominent and powerful articulations of national identity, expressed through overt hostility to access; that is, access to natural, medical, social and civic resources. A Graveyard Duet of the Past Now asks: How do we care for one another? What alternative models of security might rival the call to build walls or to secure national boundaries through force? What would taking custody of one another look like without a carceral insistence? T. Lang Dance enacts its response through an afro-futurist montage of movement, projection mapping technology, and live audio score showcasing the work of a time-traveling, shining descendant of Ra. Audiences witness the literal rearrangement of a series of dramatic images depicting our nation’s painful past of active racism, sexism, and homophobia, a powerful gesture of the restoration she aims for us to achieve. This hopeful work generates a relief of no longer being daunted by portraits of who we have been, for the sake of healing.
This choreographic response to Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail, the Dark Lioness was performed by Spelman Dance Theatre, directed by Kathleen Wessel and choreographed by T. Lang. In partnership with Autograph, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art presented the United States premiere of “Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness” from September 14 – December 8, 2018. In this internationally acclaimed exhibition featuring more than 70 photographs, visual activist Muholi, uses their body as a canvas to confront the politics of race and representation in the visual archive. Muholi’s psychologically charged portraits are unapologetic in their directness as they explore different archetypes, personal and collective histories, contemporary politics, and global events. “Somnyama Ngonyama” employs the conventions of classical painting, fashion photography, and the familiar tropes of ethnographic imagery to critically rearticulate contemporary identity politics. By increasing the contrast in the dark complexion of their skin, Muholi interrogates complex representations of beauty, pride, and desire. Gazing defiantly at the camera, Muholi challenges the viewer’s perceptions while firmly asserting their cultural identity on their own terms. “Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness” was organized by Autograph, London, and curated by Renée Mussai.
T. Lang Dance performed a choreographic response to Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks exhbition at The High Museum of Art in 2016. The exhibition provided an unprecedented opportunity to peek inside the artist’s mind. These eight rare notebooks could be seen up close, sequentially, and in context with some of Basquiat’s major works. Nearly thirty years after his death, Jean-Michel Basquiat (born Brooklyn, 1960; died Manhattan, 1988) remains one of the most iconic and influential artists of his generation.
A culmination of 4 years of research, T. Lang’s Post Up series guides us through the horrors of separation and the aftermath of reunification. Lang began creating the first installment of the series after reading author Heather Andrea Williams, Help Me Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery. This book reveals seldom told American truths of newly freed citizens, using the technology of their day — a newspaper advertisement, to cleverly find their family members. Post Up premiered at The Goat Farm Arts Center in 2014. The second installment, Post Up in the House, presented at the High Museum’s Mi Casa Your Casa installation, sheds insight on intimate prayer– spells one would conjure to remain steadfast in their search. LIT Variations #1-11, the third installment, follows a trail of performances throughout the city of Atlanta signifying the somber joy of reconnection. In Post, visions of lost souls fight for peace after years of searching, praying to be reunited with stolen loved ones. Bodies yearn to recover from vicious exploitation, from unbearable separation, and unjustified pain. T. Lang Dance unpacks movement patterns, exploring how systemic mistreatments have been woven into the fiber of ones being. The series has incorporated works by various visual artists and systems engineers, developing digitally interactive experiences which offer our dancers an improvisation platform within an immersive virtual environment. Sourcing from an eclectic background, our sound design collaborators have created unique musical blends that flood out of speakers in an evocative array of frequencies. The Post Up four-part series is revealed in the following iterations: Post Up – Following multi-generational, uncensored conversations on love and personal diary entries that beg for the return of a deceased loved one, this work ignites the search for love lost. Premiered at The Goat Farm Arts Center in 2014. Post Up in the House – First presented by the High Museum of Art in 2014, PUITH was performed as a visual installation within contemporary designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena’s Mi Casa, Your Casa exhibition. This work explored narrative reality, the delicate balance of sanity, and the private unseen prayers of searching hearts. LIT Variations #1 – #10 – LIT Variations is a migration work that performed in 10 variations throughout the city of Atlanta in 2015. Each variation was reconfigured in staging, music scores and intentionality within choreography. This work investigated the trails and obstacles one takes to rediscover what once was. Post – Set inside a reconfigured chapel, Post imagines a new space and time, an environment that stirs memories and agitates the spirit. After searching what feels like the entire solar system, Post returns you back to your loved ones, only to reveal unresolved trauma, question the unfamiliar, and sit with the pain that unfolds in the aftermath. The 55 min work ran March 9-25th 2017 at an abandoned church on the decommissioned Atlanta military base, Fort McPherson.
Mother/ Mutha delves deep into the complexities of American history. Stripping away the veil of shame, Mother/ Mutha reveals the raw emotion and endurance of African women who were forced against their will to breed slaves. This work research literature of the courageous Harriet Jacobs, the sinister Willie Lynch, and the images of the audacious Kara Walker to reveal the unspoken pain and fortitude of the atrocious act of capitalism and power and the haunting affects on the families. This story, masterfully blended, thoroughly examines the origin of objectifying African American women, some known to us all, but seldom examined so vividly and honestly through the lens of dance.
JIG – Puzzle-lovers will sit for hours in front of a box of hundreds of pieces. When separate, the pieces have no meaning. But the puzzler will not rest until all the edges, angular or smooth, fit in a way that makes sense and the larger picture is understood. JIG explores the puzzling effect of relationships; one cannot see at a glance whether an angle or a curve will match… but when they do, beauty is revealed. Through the juxtaposition of linear and curved movement (as well as energy, space, and time), JIG examines intimacy in all its brilliance and tragedy.
For Unmarried Girls Before They Wed – Founded from the untold truths that women experience in relationships with men. The parts of intimacy and love that mothers are hesitant to reveal to their daughters. In this contemporary dance work, three women along with six men embark upon a heartbreaking conversation. Set to Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”(composer Reza Jacobs) six men inhabit the periphery of the stage space, acting as catalysts for the actions of the three women. The men sit still in throne chairs as the female dancers start the conversation through a balladry of unambiguous movements. The women share their experiences on dealing with the haze of “how to catch a man.” The dancers use drama and humor to alternately subdue and release their emotions on the subject. While each woman is unique, they endure similar heartaches; losing their strength of self, dealing with commitment, managing their expectations and dealing with the multitude of “frogs” that come before the prince. Ultimately, they find power and solace among each other, cultivating and embodying strength, sanity and independence
Off Main, Veer Left is based on PUSH, the brutal and redemptive novel by Sapphire. This work investigates the physical and emotional trauma of victims of sexual abuse. Going against the stigma of keeping abuse secret this piece goes off the main road and takes a turn towards revealing the truth. Though OFF MAIN, Veer Left is a dark, somber work, the fast-paced, guttural movement attempts to physicalize the emotions of the novel’s characters through both abstraction and literal movement. This piece is danced by 5 dancers and is set against a typical living room/den atmosphere.
Shared is a contemporary modern dance and visual installation. This work features a man and a woman in an uncloaked view of their relationship in the midst of despair and disrepair due to their outside affairs. Two mediums uniquely capture the story: a live action dance performance and video. As a silent tool (silent film style); the video exposes moments of their affairs in unison with the live dance performance. This duet is raw, filled with technical athleticism and honest emotions, while the video installation offers a chillingly revealing backdrop.
Green Pasture – Light has origin.. turn a switch on and watch it play with matter and gravity. Light is radiant energy, transforming and swallowing empty space. “green pasture” takes the audience on a luminescent journey using the visceral and complex movements of T. Lang’s contemporary modern dance. Set to the music scores of Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares, “Green Pasture” forms an aura of constant, recycled natural light and heat and fills the environment with positive energy for all to enjoy.
HYPE is performed by four women and accompanied by a sound score of multiple television, radio, and news sound bytes; HYPE is a tongue-in-cheek look at the ways in which women misconstrue images of beauty and success. Falling prey to the influences of media in our society, three young women are caught in the perils of anorexic beauty, the mayhem of plastic surgery, and various late-night entanglements with random rich men who can’t see their inner worth. One lone woman, idolizing the media driven “success” of her compatriots, tries to follow in their footsteps only to discover that their shoes do not fit or feel genuine. Funny and physical, HYPE blends contemporary, modern, and jazz dance with witty sex appeal.
Why so BLuE is based on an excerpt from Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Was Enuff,” this dance explores experiences within the squalor of African American ghettos. Why so BLuE uses raw physicality and a sincere vulnerable movement approach accompanied by Shange’s eloquent text. The young dancer portrays the heartfelt events of the mature speaker’s past life.