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Artistic Director Gesel Mason

GESEL R. MASON is a choreographer, performer, educator, and artist scholar. 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 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, 2024), 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. She 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.

Mason is committed to supporting and celebrating the contributions of African American artists and communities. Part solo performance, documentary, and over 20 years in the making, Mason’s evolving dance legacy project, NO BOUNDARIES: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers, features the work and perspectives 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. In 2018, after collecting more than seven decades of choreographic vision in her body, Mason set out to transform NO BOUNDARIES into an innovative and accessible online resource to preserve these artists’ legacies and uplift the cultural contributions of African American choreographers. The endeavor has been highlighted by NPR, Google Arts and Culture, and Dance Magazine and is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mason currently co-directs the No Boundaries Archive Project (NBAP), alongside Rebecca Salzer (Professor of Dance at University of Alabama and Director of Dancing Digital) with the shared goal of building a dance resource that paves the way for a more equitable, just, and democratic digital dance landscape. A beta version of the No Boundaries Digital Archive ( will be available in 2024.

Her current choreographic project Yes, And, centers the expertise and lived experience of Black women as the norm and operating force in the creative process. It is a series of performance experiments 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. Yes, And premiered in 2022 at Women and Their Work in Austin, TX as part of the Fusebox Festival, and at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington D.C., presented by Dance Place.

Photo Credit: Enoch Chan

Photo Credit: John Borstel

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