Clockwise from top left: Lauren Davis, Janesta Edmonds, SNJV, Johnny Huy Nguyen, SNJV and tashi tamate weiss.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, February 22, 2022 – ODC has announced the inaugural cohort of its Queer and BIPOC Space Residency Initiative. With the aim of supporting Bay Area artists to ignite new momentum in their movement practices and careers, ODC partnered with the Sam Mazza Foundation to offer 30 hours of free studio space to emerging dance artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color and/or LGBTQ+. Six artists were selected: Lauren Davis, Janesta Edmonds, Jesse Escalante, Johnny Huy Nguyen, SNJV and tashi tamate weiss.
“A year ago, amid the confusion and instability of the pandemic, we asked ourselves how we could best show up for our community as we work to recover from the worst industry collapse in our lifetime,” said Zackary Forcum, who facilitates the Space Residency Initiative. “From 2020 to 2021, U.S. artists and creative institutions lost over 2.7 million jobs and $150 billion in revenue, with California being the most impacted by absolute losses. Moreover, within this sector, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ dance artists have been hit the hardest.”
In response to this crisis, ODC invited three guest curators to help structure and review applications for its new initiative targeting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists: Jes DeVille, David Herrera and Landa Lakes. “In deliberation, our panel considered the impacts of displacement, body politics and inherited marginalization,” said DeVille. “Beyond an offer of visibility to the chosen recipients, through this initiative we are growing roots and setting a standard, truly nurturing the Bay Area’s next bloom.”
SNJV, who works primarily in drag, and Davis, who engages in Butoh and other ritual performance practices, will use their allotted studio time to reconnect to their movement practices while exploring new projects.
Nguyen and Escalante, with backgrounds ranging from street dance to modern to ballet, are each developing their first evening-length solos on issues related to mental health, masculinity and race. A self-described “storyweaver and energy worker,” weiss is preparing a ritual intervention in San Francisco’s Japantown as part of the United States of Asian America Festival this spring.
Finally, Edmonds, whose projects span dance, film, poetry and the visual arts, plans to devote their hours toward the creation of a curriculum for decolonizing movement rooted in Western thought and practice.
“Recovery, especially in this pandemic, is not a linear process,” said ODC Executive Director Carma Zisman. “Yet ODC believes that with each step we collectively take, we can build a better path forward. We welcome our community to get to know and celebrate these six artists.”
For more information, visit odc.dance/space-residency.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Lauren Davis (she/her) is a visceral, ritual performance artist using Butoh as well as flesh hook suspension to explore the depths of our shadows, unearth the subconscious and work with primal, ecstatic and altered states of consciousness. Lauren founded and directs the feral femme extreme performance art group Coven of Ashes. She's also the founder of the Dark Ambient Sound Bath, which offers a Jungian approach to sound healing and meditation with darker themes and soundscapes. She now performs under the moniker Sui Generis Magicka, which offers ritual provisions, tools and workshops as well as performance art.
Janesta Edmonds (they/them) is a multidisciplinary artist working in dance, film, collage, visual art and poetry. Tapping into traditional ritual from the African diaspora, they aim to inspire transformation and healing, to manifest a world where queer Black individuals can exist in their own skin. Edmonds has performed throughout the Bay Area. She also worked for two years on the curatorial team of Failed Films, a DIY film festival held in Los Angeles. Currently she works with Epiphany Dance Theater helping to produce live and virtual performances like San Francisco Trolley Dances.
Jesse Escalante (he/him) uses dance to explore stories of mental health and other issues affecting Queer BIPOC folk. Escalante has trained in ballet, modern, jazz, contemporary, hip hop and jazz funk. In 2019, he was hired as a choreographer for the San Francisco Pride March, directing 11 dancers in a work highlighting the continuous erasure and marginalization of BIPOC and Queer stories. He is currently a second-year student at UC Berkeley, pursuing a master of social work degree with a focus on adults and mental health.
Johnny Huy Nguyen (he/him) is a multidisciplinary dance artist based in Yelamu (aka San Francisco). The son of courageous refugees, he is a second-generation Vietnamese American. Fluent in multiple movement modalities including myriad street dance styles, contemporary, modern and martial arts, Nguyen weaves together dance, theater, spoken word, ritual, installation and performance art to create immersive time-based works unraveling the complex intersections of identity through the personal and the political. His work has been presented by APAture Festival, the United States of Asian America Festival, the Chinese Historical Society of America and SOMArts. He is a 2020 recipient of the SFAC Individual Artist Commission, a 2021 APAture featured artist, as well as a 2021/22 RAWDance Radiate Fellow.
SNJV (pronounced Sun-Jeev) (she/he/they) uses lived experience, dance, drag and a critical study of pop culture to create spectacular moments on stage and camera. Based in Hayward, SNJV has performed in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and throughout the Bay Area, including at San Francisco and Oakland Pride Festivals, the Castro Street Fair, Oaklash, Queering Dance, PianoFight, CounterPulse and Oasis. SNJV is the product of Queer and Trans artists and activists who have made their path possible.
tashi tamate weiss (she/they) is a storyweaver and energy worker of Japanese and Ashkenazi descent born and raised on Ramaytush Ohlone land. Their work with words, movement, music and film bends genre/space/time, moving fluidly between the mundane and the mystical. A Reiki practitioner, taiko drummer and herbalist, weiss supports the collective reanimation of our relationship with the spirit, plant, animal and cosmic realms. Their work in hybrid documentary film has been featured in the United States of Asian America Festival, the Queer Women of Color Film Festival, the Harlem International Film Festival and Mala Forever. Weiss’ writing has been featured by Glimmer Train Press, AK Press and Kearny Street Workshop. She is a 2021-2022 San Francisco Arts Commission Artist Grant recipient.
ABOUT THE GUEST CURATORS
Jes DeVille (they/them) is an Afro-Boricua choreographer and creative director working across mediums to explore the intersections of physical fluency and environmental literacy through community-driven events. Based in the Bay Area, DeVille founded fringe performance troupe Haus Serpens in 2011, later rebranding as Openhaus Athletics in 2017.
David Herrera is a Latinx, gay choreographer, producer and community leader in San Francisco. He is the Artistic Director for David Herrera Performance Company (2007). Through his work, Herrera provides intersectional Latinx/POC artists performance opportunities, visibility and support.
Landa Lakes is a renowned drag queen, originally from Oklahoma and based in San Francisco, with a career spanning decades and platforms. Lakes is the founder of Weaving Spirits Performance Art Festival, co-founder of BAAITS Two-Spirit Pow Wow, sits on the Executive Board for the Ducal Council of San Francisco and is the heir apparent Grand Duchess in the International Court System.
Founded in 1971 by Artistic Director Brenda Way, ODC is a groundbreaking contemporary arts institution: a world-class dance company (ODC/Dance), a theater with year-round presenting and mentorship programs (ODC Theater), a training school for dancers and movers of all ages and levels (ODC School and FIT), and a fee-free, educational Healthy Dancers’ Clinic. Known nationally for its entrepreneurial savvy and artistic innovation, ODC is unique for its holistic vision, now including a robust digital platform. With its home in San Francisco’s Mission District, ODC makes a dynamic contribution to the Bay Area’s vibrant dance and arts ecosystem, cultivating artists, inspiring audiences, engaging the community, and fostering diversity and inclusion through dance performance, training and mentorship. In 2022 ODC celebrates its 50+ anniversary season.