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April 2023

Liberating Bodies

The place to begin the all-important healing of trauma is with the body. Your body. Each of our bodies.”  - Resma Menakem

How are Black artists working with communities to heal and liberate the body? What rituals are being placed to weave ancestral memory with present-day lineage? Liberating Bodies, a series curated by Cherie Hill, explores these questions through dialogue and movement workshops with Black Diaspora dance artists working between the nuances of sites, sound, community, and embodiment.

Revolutionizing Sites Through Integrative Performance

A public dialogue with Onye Ozuzu & amara tabor smith
Monday, April 3 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM PST | Online/Zoom

This artist talk is a conversation between choreographers Onye Ozuzu and amara tabor smith about their creative approaches to organizing movement of the body in relationship to buildings and experiences of space and time - exploring architecture as site, city as site, and community as site.


amara tabor smith

amara tabor-smith (she/they) is an Oakland, CA based dance and performance maker, and the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater. She describes her work as Conjure Art. Her interdisciplinary site-responsive and community specific performance making practice utilizes Yoruba Lukumí spiritual technologies to address issues of social and environmental justice, race, gender identity, and belonging. Her work is rooted in Black, queer, feminist principles that insist on liberation, joy, home fullness and well-being.  She is a 2021 Rainin Fellow, a 2019 Dance/USA Fellow, 2018 United States Artist Fellow, and a 2017 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow. Amara is currently a teaching artist in residence at Stanford University.

Revolutionizing Sites Through Integrative Performance_ A Dialogue with Onye Ozuzu & amara

Photo Credits from L to R: 1) Photo of Onye Ozuzu by William Frederking. Alt text: Onye Ozuzu looks directly at the camera with a smile. She is wearing gold earrings and necklace and brown leather jacket. 2) Photo of amara tabor smith by Jean Melesaine. 

Onye Ozuzu

Onye Ozuzu (she/her) is a performing artist, choreographer, administrator, educator and researcher currently serving as the Dean of the College of the Arts at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. Previously she was Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago. Her administrative work has sought to balance visionary and deliberate progress in the arenas of curricular, artistic, and systemic diversity, cultural relativity, collaboration and interdisciplinarity. In that work she has been a frequent collaborator with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Onye has been presenting Dance works since 1997. Based in the U.S., her work has been seen at venues such as Seattle Festival of Improvisational Dance, Kaay Fecc Festival Des Tous les Danses (Dakar, Senegal), La Festival del Caribe (Santiago, Cuba), Lisner Auditorium (Washington DC), McKenna Museum of African American Art (New Orleans, LA), danceGATHERING Lagos, as well as many anonymous site-specific locations. Recent work includes “Touch My Beloved’s Thought,” a collaboration with composer Greg Ward, and “Project Tool,” a work which garnered a 2018 Joyce Award. She facilitates work in a group improvisational score “The Technology of the Circle.”  Her current project, “Space Carcasess” is working with an international and interdisciplinary team of collaborators: visual artist Native Maqari, video-projection designer Simon Rouby, musician/sound artist Ben Lamar Gay, and dancers Joshua Akubo and Michael Mestas. “Space Carcasses” is funded by the National Performance Network and the New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project.  She continues to serve the field of dance as a thought leader, speaker and curator.

What Lies Beneath with jose e. abad & Stephanie Hewett.png

Photo Credits from L to R:: Stephanie Hewett and jose e. abad, courtesy of the artists

What Lies Beneath

A movement workshop with jose e. abad & Stephanie Hewett

Friday, April 7 | 12:00 - 2:00 PM PST | Shawl-Anderson Dance Center

This workshop explored artistic practices of adaptation, transgression, and innovation as tools of ancestral survival strategies. Utilizing somatic and improvisational techniques, abad and Hewett led exploration of the ways our bodies hold information and how our movements support our exploration of the body as a site of resilience. Looking at the evolution of Black musical forms as guides towards emancipation and freedom - continually hybridizing and innovating - we moved through Afro-diasporic genres, including blues, jazz, and techno.


Stephanie Hewett

Stephanie Hewett (she/they) is an interdisciplinary artist from the Bronx, New York (Lenapehoking territory) currently residing in Oakland, CA (Ohlone-Chochenyo territory).  They hold an MFA in Dance Studies and use both music and movement to access pathways towards liberation rooted in spiritual, physical, and sonic defense. Hewett DJ's and produces electronic music under the moniker, Madre Guía. Their Afro-Caribbean roots guide them towards polyrhythmic potentialities of intergenerational healing.

jose e. abad

jose e. abad is a multidisciplinary performance artist, DJ, and curator based in unceded Ramaytush Ohlone Territory. Born in Olongapo City, Philippines to a Filipina Mother and an Afro-Carribean U.S. Naval Soldier, their work explores the complexities of cultural identity at the crossroads of gender, sexuality, class, and race in the United States. Through dance theater, manipulated video, and sonic experimentation, they unearth lost histories that reside in the body, that the mind has forgotten and dominant culture has erased. abad has worked with established choreographers, including Anne Bluethenthal, Alleluia Panis, Brontez Purnell, NAKA Dance Theater, Erika Chong Shuch, Joanna Haigood, Keith Hennessy, Larry Arrington, Sara Shelton Mann, Seth Eisen, and many others. They have held residencies and produced work with organizations including CounterPulse, the Joe Goode Annex, Paul Dresher Studio, Highways Performance Space and Hope Mohr Dance. Additionally, they have taught and performed nationally and internationally in the Philippines, Mexico, Canada, and Europe.

Program History

  • APR 3, 2023: Revolutionizing Sites Through Integrative Performance
    F​​acilitated by Onye Ozuzu and amara tabor smith. Curated by B.L.A. Co-Director Cherie Hill.
    Online, Zoom

  • APR 7, 2023: What Lies Beneath
    Facilitated by Stephanie Hewett and jose e. abad. Curated by B.L.A Co-Director Cherie Hill.
    Shawl Anderson Dance Center

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