Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, the award-winning, internationally recognized, Philadelphia-based performing arts ensemble dedicated to creating genre-defying art, has selected the first recipients of the BIPOC New Work Presentation Track. These works will be part of the second annual Cannonball, an independently run Fringe Hub of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Running September 1-30, including a week of performances before the start of Fringe, Cannonball features more than 300 performances of over 65 shows, spanning circus, dance, theater, film, and more. Cannonball returns to the Maas Building from September 8th-30th, and for the first time will present programming at the nearby Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts from September 1-18. Events will take place indoors and outdoors. More information can be found at the festival’s website www.cannonballfestival.org.
Festival producers are thrilled to announce the inaugural recipients of the BIPOC New Work Presentation Track for Cannonball Festival 2022! All of the selected artists will have their works fully produced by Cannonball as a part of this year’s Philly Fringe, and will receive a $2500 stipend along with additional marketing support. These powerful, risk-taking projects will be centerpieces of this year’s Cannonball Festival. They spark imperative dialogue, create spaces of resistance and healing, and highlight the virtuosity of some of Philly’s most exciting artists.
Winners were selected by a panel of working Philadelphia-based BIPOC Artists, including Nathan Alford-Tate and Rhonda Moore, out of a pool of over 30 applications for the award. Several BIPOC New Work Track Finalists will also be presenting work at Cannonball Festival with additional stipend support for these works totaling $4000, bringing the total amount of stipend support awarded to $16,500.
“The applicants brought work that forced us to expand our recipient pool from three artists to five, which was a great problem to have! In these pieces,” said Nathan Alford Tate, the leading panelist. “The Awardees will share intimate parts of their lives, as well as visions of how the world could and should be.”
About the Recipients
Shavon Norris (she/her) – Me and Jesus and Prince and Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a One-Bedroom apartment in the Bronx
Me and Jesus and Prince and Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a solo performance from choreographer, dancer, and facilitator Shavon Norris that explores the sounds, words, languages, doctrines, cultures, histories, people(s), places, and objects that flooded her developing mind, body, and spirit. It is a love letter and a challenge to the biological, cultural, and historical artifacts and fossils in her blood and in her vision.
Shavon Norris is an artist, educator, and facilitator. She uses movement along with text and sound and imagery to reveal and highlight the stories living in our bodies. Her work explores our relationship to our identities, our experiences, and to each other. An examination and celebration of what we feel, think, and believe. She received a BA in Biology from Manhattanville College and an MFA in Dance and Choreography from Temple University. Presently she teaches at Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Swarthmore College. As an artist, her work has been presented at venues in New York City and Philadelphia. As a performer, she has participated in performances for Silvana Cardell, Leah Stein, Merian Soto, Jumatatu Poe, and David Brick and has toured with Pig Iron Theatre Company. As an educator and facilitator, Shavon has worked with Headlong Performance Institute, Pig Iron School, Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Need in Deed, LiveConnections, and Arts and Business Council for Greater Philadelphia. In partnership with these organizations, as well as others, Shavon has offered short and long-term learning to diverse communities on topics of Movement, Intentional Inclusivity, Mindfulness, Wellness, and Healing Centered/Trauma Informed Practices. Shavon’s artistic and educational philosophies are rooted in the desire to offer herself, learners, performers, and audiences, opportunities to deepen the understanding of self and the collective. To explore ways to light us up, lift us up, and shift what needs transforming. She loves all of the living and working she gets to do in the world.
Sohrab Haghverdi (he/him)- Green Card Project with collaborator Mackenzie Raine Kirkman
Green Card Project is an experiential theatre piece that takes audiences through the experience of applying for a Visa as experienced by an Iranian Citizen, opening up questions about what is truly valuable to America and how they feel toward the capitalist structure that has shaped today’s immigration policies.
Sohrab Haghverdi is a theatre artist from Tehran, Iran. Since arriving 8 years ago, he has received a Bachelor’s degree in Acting from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master’s in Devised Performance from Pig Iron/University of the Arts. Isolation even in the presence of others has been a recurring experience for Sohrab as a cancer survivor, a member of a marginalized community, and one of a few Iranian creators in the Philly theatre community. He uses theatre to go to uncomfortable, shameful, fear-invoking places and attempt to take the audience on that journey with him. His goal is to offer an experience that reveals more of himself and those who suffer the same pains.
Sophiann Mahalia (she/her) – Outside of Your Expectations
Outside of Your Expectations is a healing, interactive art exhibition in the form of a video installation and live performance that explores the social constructs that are put upon Black women and the ways they can affect their mental health.
Sophiann Mahalia uses her fusion of African, hip hop, and waacking to promote the limitless and regal qualities of womanhood within the black dancing body. She moved from Hartford, Connecticut to receive her BFA in Dance Choreography and Performance from Temple University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and received the Rose Vernick Most Promising Performers Award. Her recent works include Gilead’s commercial campaign “Press Play,” Black & Mild commercial shoot, and music videos for Saleka Night Shyamalan’s “Clarity” (directed by Ishani Shyamalan and M. Night Shyamalan) and Ari Lennox’s “Shea Butter Baby” featuring J Cole. In the commercial world, Sophiann has had the opportunity to do work for companies such as BOMBAS, and gone on tour with the Clothesline Muse starring six-time nominated jazz singer Nnenna Freelon. She performed in New Freedom Theatre’s Black Nativity directed by Rajendra Maroon Maharaj. She promotes body positivity and uses dance to tell stories that can’t be understood with just words, and aspires to inspire other artists to take their artistry to the next level as she does the same.
Carne Viva Dance Theater/Chachi Perez (she/they)- mio/ tuyo/ nuestro, with collaborators Nyla Murray (she/her), Aleeza Garcia (she/they), Marcel Santiago (he/they), Jasiri Minors (he/him), Tori Breen (he/she/they), & Micah Lat (he/they)
mio/ tuyo/ nuestro (mine/ yours/ ours) is an immersive performance project from Carne Viva Dance Theatre that moves inside the history of the eight stages of love through the lens of six Queer and/or Trans BIPOC. It invites audiences to travel through the love of caretakers, through the honest spoken thoughts of children, the 16-year-old self that did not understand how to be loved but knew they needed it, the shared secrets and love of friendships, and those who you share an intimate bond with — whether it be with yourself or others — and tell yourself you have always loved all the versions of your human love catalyst journey.
As dancer and artist Chachi Perez explains, the focus of her work explores “cultura, rebellion, comunidad, y el movimiento del cuerpo. Transporting into different avenues of the unexpected, to reach the bridge of the unapologetic. How can I push the boundaries the world has placed on this vessel of a body I call mine? How can this working body be a means of transportation for taking me to another world? How can I as an artist fill the gaps with my work to help my community? How can I as a Latina, a lesbian, and a woman, work to push through the barriers people have placed on us? Using my body and my work to create my fuck you dance, to uplift the future of our community that is running through la callè.”
Nathaniel Justiniano (he/him+) – The Most Important Place In The World! with collaborators Marisol Rosa-Shapiro & Jade Power-Sotomayor
The Most Important Place in the World! is a devilishly satirical bouffon show targeting colonization with a Diasporic Puerto Rican lens. Two fabulously windswept tricksters, who are equal parts hurricanes and prophets, take the audience on a dance-filled fiesta celebrating the USA’s torrid love affair with Puerto Rico.
Nathaniel Justiniano (he/him+) is a queer Cali-Rican actor, deviser, movement designer, educator, activist, and the founding Artistic Director of Naked Empire Bouffon Company. Recently, his arts-based racial justice work was featured in Howlround and American Theatre Magazine. As an actor, he has worked with Shakespeare Orange County, Son of Semele Ensemble, Cornerstone Theater Company, The Dell’Arte Company, Thrillpeddlers, We Players, and Cutting Ball Theater. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Comedic Performance at Emerson College and he has served as the Director of Physical Comedy for the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, Movement Designer at UC Berkeley, core faculty of the SF Clown Conservatory, and guest faculty at the Juilliard School.
Those additional finalists who will be presenting work in Cannonball include:
- Performance Artist Crackhead Barney’s cooning into the metaverse one day at a time hopefully!!;
- Palestinian-American dance makers Mette Loulou von Kohl & Leila Delicious’s Eat Me Baladi;
- Percussionist and writer Karen Smith and Run Boy Run Production’s Awoke the Musical;
- a. dance theatre’s Vehement;
- Ninth Planet’s High Noon, a queer Black Western;
- Laura Lizcano’s Daughter of the Sea; and Chinese choreographer Yao Xu’s The Body Politic.
Cannonball Festival presents risk-taking independent artists in back-to-back performances next to delicious lounge spaces, fostering creative collisions and community conversation. Cannonball disrupts traditional arts presenting models by centering artist-to-artist curation, pooling and redistributing resources to provide small-scale, high-impact production opportunities for wild, under-resourced performances, and building a sustainable arts ecosystem from the ground up. In its inaugural year in 2021, Cannonball produced 28 unique works over 21 days for 150 performances in a single venue during the Philadelphia Fringe, welcoming over 2500 audience members and winning three overall Fringie Awards. In 2022, Cannonball will return to the Maas Building and expand to the nearby Icebox Project Space, offering even more production and presentation opportunities for independent artists from Philadelphia.
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