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Gesel Mason

GESEL MASON is a choreographer, performer, educator, and arts facilitator. She is Artistic Director for Gesel Mason Performance Projects and Associate Professor of Dance and Choreography at the University of Texas at Austin. She was a member of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance Projects. She has also performed with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah, and under the direction of Chuck Davis, Jacek Łumiński (Silesian Dance Theatre), Murray Louis, and Victoria Marks.

Her company, Gesel Mason Performance Projects (GMPP), serves as a medium for her creative work. GMPP is a project based dance company that seeks to create meaningful, relevant, and compelling art events as a way to encourage compassion and inquiry. In her work, Mason utilizes dance, theater, humor, and storytelling to bring visibility to voices unheard, situations neglected, or perspectives considered taboo. Numerous venues and festivals have presented Mason’s choreography including John F. Kennedy Center, American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, the International Association of Blacks in Dance, and numerous colleges and universities.

Significant awards have included: National Endowment for the Humanities (2020), New England Foundation for the Arts (2020, 2007), Rauschenburg Artist in Residence (2019), National Performance Network (2019, 2009, 2002), National Endowment for the Arts (2016, 2004), Whiting Foundation (2018), and University of Colorado Boulder Research & Innovation Seed Grant (2018). In 2017, Mason was one of four choreographers commissioned to create work for American Dance Festival’s “Footprints.” In 2015, Mason received a Map Fund for her project “antithesis,” which challenged how female sexuality is perceived, performed, and (re)presented. Mason was one of six choreographers selected by the Joyce Theater for a Rockefeller Residency Initiative in 2011 and received the Millennium Stage Local Dance Commissioning Project from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2007.

For over 20 years, Mason has been committed to supporting and celebrating the contributions of African American artists and communities. Her solo performance project, NO BOUNDARIES: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers, has featured the work of Kyle Abraham, Robert Battle, Rennie Harris, Dianne McIntyre, Donald McKayle, Bebe Miller, David Rousséve, Reggie Wilson, Andrea E. Woods Valdéz, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. NO BOUNDARIES, highlighted by NPR, Google Arts and Culture, and Dance Magazine, is evolving into a digital humanities archive to illuminate the unique legacies and aesthetics of these choreographers. In 2020, Mason was awarded a NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant, with co-director Rebecca Salzer of the University of Alabama, in support of the digital archive’s curation, research and development.

Her current choreographic project Yes, And, centers Black womanhood as the norm and operating force in the creative process. It is an evolving performance project activated by the question: Who would you be and what would you do if, as a Black woman, you had nothing to worry about? The project is supported by National Performance Network, NEFA National Dance Project, and an inaugural Texas Performing Arts/Fusebox Festival Residency.

Fusebox Performances