Image by Daniel Beahm

No Boundaries: A Journey to Embody the Work of Black Choreographers

Gesel Mason

How do you capture live performance? How do you make an archive come alive? How can dance tell a story of African American tenacity and resilience? Presented as a performative lecture, No Boundaries: A Journey to Embody the Work of Black Choreographers, examines the challenges of the body as an archive and of translating dance performance into an online medium. It also considers the politics and pragmatics of documentation while centering the body and performance as essential to understanding the legacy and contributions of influential Black choreographers.

Over 15 years in the making, No Boundaries existed as an evolving repertoire of solos choreographed by some of the nation’s leading contemporary African-American choreographers. The performance project featured works by Kyle Abraham, Robert Battle, Rennie Harris, Dianne McIntyre, Bebe Miller, Donald McKayle, Reggie Wilson, Andrea E. Woods Valdéz, David Roussève, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The next evolution of No Boundaries is as a digital humanities archive to further the reach, distribution, and preservation of this project. In spite of a history of silencing and erasure of Black cultural contributions, No Boundaries seeks to ensure that African-American voices continue to resonate in the archives of contemporary dance for generations to come.

From Fusebox I don’t always get super excited thinking about archives, but when I do it’s probably because I’ve been thinking about Gesel Mason’s brilliant performative lecture No Boundaries: A Journey to Embody the Work of Black Choreographers. The project (15 years in the making) cracks open the usual thinking about archiving live performance, and invites a stream of new thinking and possibilities that center the role of the body in archiving. The project also seeks to counter a history that often silences and ignores Black cultural contributions in the field. This is must see for anyone interested in dance and performance–professionals, non-professionals, enthusiasts, casual fans, artists, dancers, curators, students, scholars, as well as folks interested in archives. We’re proud to present this work in collaboration with the Carver Museum.

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