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Reflection:Response Choreographic Commission

The Reflection:Response Commission invites choreographers to consider as a starting point how we ‘reflect’ and ‘respond’ through different kinds of embodiment: the experiential body, the choreographic body and the activist body. The commission includes a cash award of $5,000, access to rehearsal space throughout summer, and the production of the new work in Temple’s Conwell Dance Theater.

2017 - Lela Aisha Jones/FlyGround

Building on her current series of episodic works, Plight Release & the Diasporic Body,J ones 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 Discussionon Saturday, Sept 23, from 4-6PM, and a public workshop on Sunday, Sept 24, from 2-5PM.

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.

Lela Aisha Jonesis a native of Tallahassee, FL who resides in Philadelphia. 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 thatintertwines personal history,diasporic movement, social commentary, and interdisciplinary methods.Lelaearned 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.


2016 – Kathy Westwater
In Anywhere, Westwater asks how a dance might engage with, and itself be, a monument. Central concerns are permanent and impermanent cultural manifestations that register and record the impact upon us of time, war, and climate—economic and environmental—and how these manifestations are rendered and experienced in public and private space. Westwater seeks to choreographically manifest a contemporary heroism found in the everyday—anywhere. Without being about a specific historical time or event, there will be a remembering of something that was lost and something that wasn’t.

Premiereing September 16 and 17, 2016 in Conwell Dance Theater, Anywhere will be performed by five dancers to Henryk Górecki’s “Symphony No. 3.” It will feature a unique relationship between movement and sound through a sound integration design by Architect Seung-Jae Lee.

Past commission recipients

Jennifer Weber's A Hollywood Classic

2015 – Jennifer Weber
A Hollywood Classic, a narrative piece of dance theater fusing hip hop with Broadway jazz, uses projection design, costumes and greyscale makeup to bring film to life on stage.


Tatyana Tenenbaum's Thunder

2014 – Tatyana Tenenbaum
Thunder is a hybrid theatrical work that explores the relationships between vocal production and movement and the continuum between speech and song. The work also references theatrical histories that tap pagan mythology as a means of accessing wonder, beauty, magic and nature.


Charles O. Anderson

2013 – Charles O. Anderson / dance theatre X
Restless Natives, an evening-length dance theatre piece, is inspired by the writings of James Baldwin featuring and original poetry score by critically-acclaimed performance poet Ursula Rucker. Set in a fictional juke joint called HOME, Restless Natives combines mournful celebration and passionate dance in a blues-saturated commentary on loving and being loved in 21st century America.


Laura Peterson's Failure

2012 – Laura Peterson Choreography
Failure, which takes place in and around a two-story structure that is designed to collapse during the performance, explores deeply personal ideas, measuring effort against limits as they relate to self-perception, relationships and the body. Performed to an electronic, abstract sound collage built around the concept of collapse, the work examines failure as terrifying, spectacular and truly human.