A Eulogy for Mary Turner (2017)

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Dawn Harbor, Rachel Marie-Crane Williams and Christopher- Rasheem McMillan explore the horrible story of Mary Turner’s murder through art, dance, and spoken word on the stage of the Englert Theater. This story is pivotal in the larger history of lynching and racial violence in our country

Black Lōkəs (2017)

 


Stark Looks: Rendering blackness through the post-modern archive

Christopher-Rasheem McMillans Black Lōkəs (2017)

Reflection by Jesse Factor

 

Christopher-Rasheem McMillan’s new work, Black Lōkəs (2017) enters into the American post-modern dance archive through a faithfully executed revival of Trisha Brown’s Locus (1975), which he learned directly from former Trisha Brown Dance Company member Shelley Senter. However, as his title suggests, McMillan’s entrance into this archive follows with his emergence from it only to produce strains of striking difference. McMillan deftly reproduces Brown’s archival dance material, which he subsequently modulates through selective maintenance of and departure from Brown’s Locus. McMillan starkly renders Black Lōkəs through active engagement with American dance and racial histories.

Trisha Brown’s Locus (1975) renders relatively un-virtuosic movement material that unfolds with remarkable sophistication through the employment of an imaginary cube. The geometric abstraction of the cube in relationship to a numerical alphabet devised by Brown produces the neutrality of the original Locus. While Brown uses the self-referential phrase beginning with “Trisha Brown was…” as a generative tool, McMillan departs from this conceit, drawing on the initials of 26 victims of systematic police brutality in America, such as Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin, as his source material. Whether directly legible or not, these deceased figures haunt the work as tragic ephemeral traces in McMillan’s dancing body.

Whereas Trisha Brown’s Locus employs the cube as an imaginary self-imposed restriction in order to create a resource of neutral movement possibilities, McMillan performs inside an icy steel 8x8x8 structure, two feet larger than a prison cell. A black person in 21st century America has six times the likelihood of ending up in prison, as compared to a white person, according to the NAACP. However, McMillan both inhabits and is contained by the steel structure, complicating his choice to render it visible. As we witness, notions of chance vacillate between the aesthetically free neutrality of Trisha Brown’s original work and the harrowing chance happening of surveillance and racial profiling often leading to the death of the individuals McMillan embeds into the movement. Black Lōkəs reveals sharp perspective on contemporary artistic and racial identity.

McMillan, a lanky man dressed in midnight blue shirt, slacks, and grey new balance tennis shoes extends his impossibly long limbs within the confines of the sleek silver steel cube which frames the movement. A black terpsichore in sneakers, McMillan actively inserts himself into the cannon of the predominately white Judson Church post-modern phenomenon, claiming artistic kinship while amplifying racial difference.


Protest and Praise (2016)

This dance work examines the intersections between protest and jubilance. This work juxtaposes gestures from the Black Lives Matter movement and Appalachian visual culture. As uncomfortable as it is it say, American modern dance has not always been inclusive of people of colour. My community (where I find my body and my body of work) is as varied as my own intersecting identities. As a black, queer, man with Jewish ancestry, I connect and I am a part of several identity groups on the margins. How do I gaze a whiteness?

#Bodiesmatter (2015)

 

#blckbdiesmttr (2015). Is an investigation in to the movement language(s) of ‘riot’ by triangulating media coverage, op-ed articles, and individual accounts of the Black Lives Matters Movement. The research questions that will guide the creative process are: Can the movement language(s) of riot be abstracted and made to fit a proscenium space? Should it be made to fit the stage? Is it possible to look at moving black bodies in distress both as a site for cultural commentary, and as an artistic expression? Is it possible to make text based, complicated, and full body movement in the same dance work concerning race with out making it preachy or sententious? I approach this work from a post modern black dancing body. It is meant to reference not recreate the "protest'

 Present (2014) 

 Barely Present is group work that moves from moments of athleticism to introspection, investigating intimacy, visibility, and presence. This work also attempts to find the line between improvisation and set work.

Barely Absent (2014) 

Concept and Original Choreography: Cathy Nicoli
Reset/ Stolen by Christopher-Rasheem Mcmillan 'a partial reconstruction'

The original work 'Bare' (2002) was much better that this. My professor turned mentor made a work that was so profound that I could not get it out of my mind. I could only remember two gestures from that dance. I created a new work and incorporated the two gestures that I could remember and built other gestures around the concept. She did not authorise me to do this, but I do credit the choice of music, tone, and energy to her and the original work.

Look Busy Jesus is Coming (2012)

This is a work that uses a mathematical/choreographic formula to predict the second coming of Christ. I develop a choreographed movement language that is not simple a representation of Christ's coming, but is structurally a reconstruction that estimates thatvery "coming/arrival". I composed a soundscape of all the visual images, which included responses to the alleged coming, worries, and newscast to represent the body of experience that was being developed from and around this event. For me both of these works take the Text (Bible) as material for composition, and yetthis performance work is the very acts itself.

 

Cupcakes and Confessions (2011)

This Performance works explores Confession as an autobiographic/ autho-ehtnograpahic tool for both understanding Truth vs truth(s) andtheoral presentation of personal narratives. This work explores the coming out process and gender non conformity throughfound and experienced life stories

 

To Be Forever Rebuilding ... (2011)

 

To be Forever Rebuilding is an investigation into the reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon/Temple Mount. This performance work uses the temple floor plan as a spatial pattern that is complicated by bodies acting as both living architecture and as sites for conflict, tension, and interpretation. The sound scape used for this performance is a mixture of Muslim, Hebrew, and Christian prayers and sounds from the holy sites of all three religions .This performance places all three religions in the same place challenging questions of otherness, truth, and space. The movement material for this work has been developed from observations using Laban Movement Analysis as method of unpicking the ways in which people move at the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This Performance is meant to be viewed by promenade allowing the viewer to change his/her 's viewpoint. This ability to change location will influence the boundaries of the performance and who or what is on the outside. For me the idea of "outside" and “other” go hand in hand, for both are product of the viewer's perception. 

Nothing But The Blood  (2010)

 

Queerness and religion (Christianity) are often at odds with each other. How does one reconcile the ideological differences between identity categories? We look to the body as a host for complex and often contradictory experiences Through this work I attempt to find ways to position myself so that I can occupy both places fully, to be both Queer and Christian. " Why I Ate Jesus Naked"  is an investigation into  the queer aspects of the Eucharist ( communion)