Working on Better Versions of Prayers
J’Sun Howard is a Chattanooga native and a Chicago-based dancemaker and poet. J’Sun has recently received the Sybil Shearer Fellowship and residency at Ragdale Foundation, a nomination to participate in an emerging artist laboratory at Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC), and a 2017 3Arts Award nomination. A 2014 Chicago Dancemaker’s Forum Lab Artist awardee, his choreography has appeared at multiple venues such as Links Hall, Northwestern University, Sonotheque, Lincoln Square Theatre, Insight Arts/Center for New Possibilities, Epiphany Church, Rumble Arts, Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery, Patrick’s Cabaret (MN), and Poets Theater Festival(CA).
J’Sun has performed for many choreographers including Malcolm Jason Low, Asimina Chremos, Sara Wookey, Paige Cunningham, Selene Carter, but most extensively with collaborators Darrell Jones and Damon Green.
Working On Better Version of Prayers
“Working On Better Versions of Prayers” creates charismatic space for black boy joy. A poetic testimony that miracles erupt at any moment. A portrait in blue looking an intimacy between men of color, acts of practicing freedom, and radical hope, that is hope directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is, an imaginative excellence.
Dedrick “Deddy Banks” Gray is a native of Chicago, IL. He began dancing in his early teens, and then continued his training at Columbia College Chicago earning a BA in Marketing and Dance. He’s a company member of Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago. Dedrick is also attended Jacobs Pillow school of dance two years in a row under scholarship. He has worked with and performed pieces by choreographers which includes Onye Ozuzu, Matthew Williams, Kia Smith, Camille A. Brown, Moncell E. Durden, Darrell Jones, Francine Ott, Kelsa Robinson, Dianne McIntyre, Ni’ja Whitson, D.Saleba Grimes, and from Red Clay Dance Company and Urban Bush Woman
Damon D. Green is a Chicago-based dancer and was born in Champaign, Illinois, where his dance education and training began at The Christine Rich Studio under the direction of Christine Rich. Green began his training in classical ballet and jazz in 1996, continuing with the Champaign Park District under Kimberly Burson from 1997-2002. Green furthered his education at Columbia College Chicago starting in 2003, where he was introduced to Modern/Contemporary, African and Vogue dance. Voguing is currently Damon’s specialty and he continues to explore and perform in this form, in its fusion with contemporary vocabulary, with choreographer and Associate Professor of Dance Darrell Jones. Damon maintains his presence in the contemporary dance world with The Seldoms, led by Artistic Director Carrie Hanson. Additionally, Damon has worked with choreographer and dance educator Paige Cunningham, fusing Contemporary Ballet and Voguing in a piece called “Werk” in 2011. Green has traveled abroad, performing in Siberia and Taiwan and introduced Voguing to Russian students as a master teacher at the Isadora International Festival of Contemporary Dance. TimeOut Chicago rated him one of the “Top 10 Men of Dance” in 2010.
Dramaturge: Raquel Monroe
Sponsored /funded by
“Working On Better Versions of Prayers” was developed in part with assistance from High Concept Laboratories, SET FREE Residency curated by Jessica Marasa, and In The Works Residency at Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
The creation of “Working On Better Version of Prayers” was made possible, in part, by the Danspace Project 2016-17 Commissioning Initiative, with support from the Jerome Foundation.
J’Sun Howard is 2018 Co-MISSION Fellowship artist at Links Hall. Links Hall’s Co-MISSION Fellowships are supported by the generous contributions of the Links Hall Commissioning Collective, a handful of dedicated individuals who are committed to excellence in Chicago’s live arts.
Thank you to High Concept Laboratories and Links Hall for their continued support, Shoni Currier, Darrell Jones, Justin Mitchell, and Brother(hood) Dance! for their generosity, brotherhood, and going on this journey.
how to survive a plague
Photo credit: Ian Douglas
“This story stung noticeably and sent my attention into reckoning with the specifics of the issues raised long after the guys had shifted to a light-hearted Soul Train line with members of the audience.”
Brother(hood) Dance! is an interdisciplinary duo that seeks to inform its audiences on the socio-political and environmental injustices from a global perspective, bringing clarity to the same-gender-loving African-American experience in the 21st century. Brother(hood) Dance! was formed in April 2014 as a duo that research, create and perform dances of freedom by Orlando Zane Hunter, Jr. and Ricarrdo Valentine. We have performed our works at FiveMyles, Center for Performance Research, B.A.A.D! (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance), VCU-The Grace Street Theater, DraftWork at St. Marks Church, JACK, Movement Research at Judson Church, Colby College, Denmark Arts Center and other venues.
how to survive a plague
how to survive a plague – An interdisciplinary meditation on the artistic generational gap between those lost in the global epidemic, AIDS. Brother(hood) Dance! investigates who survives and whose stories are told during and after life. This work will explore the methods of healing, care-giving, and living testimonies by creating an intentional space with sound, movement, and aroma. This ritualistic experience will venerate the Black African bodies that were exiled from the urgency of care shun by their communities and government. How do we connect this work (how to survive a plague) as a reverential gesture to lost ancestral artistic dreams?
Orlando Zane Hunter,Jr. is an international artist, who has performed in Trinidad and Tobago and Zimbabwe, Africa with Ananya Chatterjea. He has received a B.F.A. in dance from the University of Minnesota. Recently he choreographed and danced in “Redbone: A Biomythography” that debuted at the Nuyorican Café, Wild Project Theater and Duke University: Women’s center. Orlando Hunter’s solo, Mutiny, was selected in the 2015 Dancing While Black performance lab held this year in Trinidad and Tobago. He has presented his choreography at Thelma Hill and on Time Warner cable network through Germaul Barnes’s project, Black Bones. Since his arrival to New York City, Orlando has performed works by Christal Brown, Edisa Weeks, Germaul Barnes, Andre Zachary/ Renegade Performance Group, Forces of Nature and Ni’Ja Whitson-Adebanjo/NWA project. In addition, he is the co-founder of Brother(hood) Dance and 2015/16 Dancing While Black Fellow.
Ricarrdo Valentine uses art as a vehicle for activism. Ricarrdo’s education includes Urban Bush Women: Summer Leadership Institute, Bates Dance Festival and Earl Mosely Institute of the Arts. He has presented his choreography at Bates Dance Festival, Brooklyn Museum, El Museo de Barro and LaGuardia Community College. Ricarrdo continues to collaborate and work with Christal Brown/INspirit, Edisa Weeks/Delirious Dance, Paloma McGregor, Dante Brown/Warehouse Dance, Malcolm Low/Formal Structure, Jill Sigman/Thinkdance, Ni’Ja Whitson-Adebanjo/NWA project, Andre Zachary/RPG and Emily Berry/B3W. He is the co-founder of Brother(hood) Dance! In addition, Ricarrdo is the 2015 Dance/USA DILT mentee and 2015/16 Dancing While Black Fellow.
Lighting designer: Carol Mullins;
Costume designer: Shane Ballard;
Sound designer: Orlando Zane Hunter, Jr;
Media Design: Orlando Zane Hunter, Jr.
Sponsored /funded by
The creation of how to survive a plague was made possible, in part, by the Danspace Project 2016-17 Commissioning Initiative, with support from the Jerome Foundation.
how to survive a plague was developed in part with assistance from SPACE on Ryder Farm.
Thank you J’Sun Howard for our connection through dance and Brotherhood. We appreciate and love you dearly.