The Black Magic of Living at Swarthmore College, Feb 2-10

The William J. Cooper Foundation with the Department of Music and Dance at Swarthmore College present artist-scholars Thomas DeFrantz and Ni’Ja Whitson in a two-week series of dance performances, master classes, and public conversations in response to the poetry of Jean Toomer and Marlon Riggs at Swarthmore College.

The residency will include a presentation of DeFrantz’s dance work CANE, a presentation of Whitson’s A Meditation on Tongues, master classes in contemporary dance vocabularies, and discussions with the campus community around historical and futuristic renderings of black contemporary performance. CANE and Meditation examine the complex and endangered terrains of black American life through history. Each work uses its own mediated performance device as a tool of magical narrative rendering—visual technology in the case of CANE, bodily ritual in the case of Meditation.

DeFrantz, professor and chair of African & African-American Studies at Duke University, directs SLIPPAGE, a dance company that explores new technology in live performance settings. Having taught courses about subjects from dance to race in colleges across the country, DeFrantz combines his interests in CANE, a piece based on Toomer’s novel that discusses Black life in the U.S from colonial times to the Harlem Renaissance. CANE utilizes visual technology and influences from ballet, modern, and African dance to portray a non-linear view of Black American life through history. Whitson, an interdisciplinary performer and writer who specializes in indigenous African ritual and resistance forms, often portrays the intersections of gender, sexuality, spirituality, and race through their performances. A Meditation on Tongues retells Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied – a film about Black and gay male identities during the HIV/AIDS pandemic – through strenuous choreography emphasizing the physical and emotional labor of being Black and queer in the U.S. The performance is a duet between Whitson and another Black, gender non-conforming dancer, and moves through multiple spaces in the LPAC.

For more information about the schedule of workshops, discussions, and performances, visit https://www.swarthmore.edu/cooper-series/current-season. All events are free and open to the public.

The William J. Cooper Foundation provides a varied program of lectures, performances and exhibitions which enriches the academic work of Swarthmore College. The Foundation was established by William J. Cooper who specified that the income from his gift should be used “in bringing to the college eminent citizens of this and other countries who are leaders in statesmanship, education, the arts, sciences, learned professions and business.” Planning for next season is currently underway.

SCHEDULE

Thomas DeFrantz public conversation
Friday, Feb. 2, 5 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center, Cinema

CANE performance
Friday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center, Frear Ensemble Theater

CANE performance
Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center, Frear Ensemble Theater

Public conversation between DeFrantz and Whitson
Sunday, Feb. 4, noon
Lang Performing Arts Center, Troy Dance Studio

Master class with Ni’Ja Whitson
Tuesday, Feb. 6, 4:30 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center, Troy Dance Studio

Master class with Ni’Ja Whitson
Thursday, Feb. 8, 4:30 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center, Troy Dance Studio

Ni’Ja Whitson public conversation
Friday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center, Cinema

A Meditation on Tongues performance
Friday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center, Frear Ensemble Theater

A Meditation on Tongues performance
Saturday, Feb. 10, 8 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center, Frear Ensemble Theater