2017 Reflection Response Commission awarded to Lela Aisha Jones

The Temple University Department of Dance, Institute for Dance Scholarship, is delighted to announce the sixth Reflection:Response Choreographic Commission has been awarded to Lela Aisha Jones/FlyGround.    The Reflection/Response Choreographic Commission includes a cash award of $5,000 and access to rehearsal space at Temple University throughout summer 2017.  Past commission recipients include Laura Peterson, Charles O. Anderson, Tatyana Tennenbaum, Jennifer Weber, and Kathy Westwater.

Building on her current series of episodic works, Plight Release & the Diasporic Body, Jones will create, Ancestral and Everyday Saturday, new works that traverse, through the body and movement, what the black/African Diaspora offers as an archive of and guide towards individual and collective transformation. Jones is asking, “what if keepers of cultures in societies also let traditional practices breathe and become tapestries grounded in histories and discoveries that collide, merge, diverge, and converge?”

Ancestral is an interlude and cast-specific movement experience that purposefully brings performers and audiences together around their practices of honoring ancestors to create pathways for understanding and connection along with problems and challenges in U.S. society.

Everyday Saturday works to capture and imagine the gestural, common, and less visible locations of black/African diasporic movement. It is inspired by the Saturday morning clean up ritual that took place weekly in the Southern U.S., North Florida city of Tallahassee, in the Jones home. Cleaning up was/is a time to get down to LPs, cassette tapes, CDs, and eventually streaming. Singing and dancing while cleaning goes way back and makes work feel like family. Students of the Temple University Department of Dance will join Jones and her company in Everyday Saturday.  

In addition to the premiere of Ancestral, and Everyday Saturday, Jones will perform her critically acclaimed solo, Jesus & Egun (2016).

Performances will take place in Temple University’s Conwell Dance Theater, on Friday and Saturday, September 22 and 23, at 7:30 PM.  Additional public programming includes a Round Table Discussion on Saturday, Sept 23, from 4-6PM, and a public workshop on Sunday,  Sept 24, from  2-5PM.

Lela Aisha Jones is a native of Tallahassee, FL who resides in Philadelphia, PA.  She is a movement performance artist that has come to understand dance as an “archival practice” and her body “as an artistic archive—a creative storage space for movement and culture derived from the individual and collective lived experiences of blackness.” Lela is the founder of FlyGround, her creative home, where she cultivates her artistry that intertwines personal history, diasporic movement, social commentary, and interdisciplinary methods.  Lela earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance at Florida State University and is a current doctoral candidate at Texas Woman’s University.  She is a 2013 Dance USA Philadelphia Rocky Awardee, a 2015 Leeway Foundation Transformation Awardee and a member of the inaugural 2015 Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellows designed by leaders at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in NYC. In 2016, Lela was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

photo credit: Scott Shaw