Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers
No Boundaries: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers is a living, breathing history project that has evolved to become a multifaceted platform in order to meet the growing need of an archive of prominent African American choreographers. The project uses dance as the vehicle to understand a distinctly African American theme of resilience in spite of a history of silencing, erasure, and appropriation of African American cultural contributions. By expanding the genre of Black dance and interrupting the systematic erasure of names lost to the archive, No Boundaries reveals the tenacity of resilience and the diversity of Black contemporary performance.
The original No Boundaries project was created in 2004 in order to celebrate the depth and diversity of style and vision in the field of modern dance. For over fifteen years, No Boundaries primarily existed as an evolving archive of original and established solos choreographed by African American choreographers that Gesel Mason performed in one evening. The performance project featured several of the nation’s leading contemporary African American choreographers, including Dianne McIntyre, Robert Battle, Bebe Miller, Donald McKayle, Reggie Wilson, Andrea Woods, David Roussève, Rennie Harris, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, who choreographed original and historic works for the solo performance. With documentary footage of interviews with the choreographers interspersed between dances that span from the 1940’s to the present, No Boundaries delivered snapshots of, and created discussion around, the idea of Black dance over seven decades.
The solo performance project received a National Dance Project Tour Only Grant in 2008/09 from New England Foundation for the Arts, two Metro DC Dance Awards in 2007, and was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and National Performance Network. The evolving repertory of solos has had a long tour life since its premiere in 2003 to 2015. No Boundaries has been presented by 651 Arts (NY), Dance Place (DC), Joyce SoHo (NY), Links Hall (IL), Long Island University (NY), South Dallas Cultural Center (TX), SUNY Potsdam (NY), Painted Bride (PA), ProArts Collective (TX), University of Minnesota (MN), and West Virginia University (VA).
The Washington Post noted: “Gesel Mason’s one-woman show was the sort of performance that in any other realm would enshrine her among a select few standouts…an ambitious, riveting and impressively executed program.” The New York Times claimed: “Ms. Mason has put together a show that should be required viewing for students of dance history, not so much for the facts it touches upon but for the personalities and points of view revealed in excerpts from video interviews that accompany the dances.”
After collecting more than seven decades of choreographic vision in her body, GMPP is transforming No Boundaries into a versatile, online platform to fit the growing need for an archive of prominent African American choreographers. Part archival database and part community engagement, the platform will preserve these artists legacies, choreography, and stories. Since No Boundaries represents the shifting dance field, the website will allow us to continue to update the project by including more Black choreographers, such as young emerging artists. In order to ignite discussion and conversation, the website will feature participation formats for user-generated content so that users can contribute, communicate, share, and learn.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the University of Colorado Boulder.
No Boundaries Donors: Darren Anthony, Joanna Ashleigh, Sally Ed Augden in honor of Erica Augden, Holly Bass, Emily Beattie, John Morris and Laura Benedict Benedict, Ching-I Bigelow, Lisa Biggs, Elsa Barkley Brown, Rebecca Butler, Cherie Cain, Sarah Council, Bonnie Cox, Sage Crump, Colin Danville, Peter DiMuro, Fiona Eakin, Marissa Elliott, Thoyd Ellis, Bill Evans, Adriane Fang, Firebird Productions LLC, Wendy Franz, Ondine Geary, Melanie George, Cristina Goletti, Lisa Goodrich, Katherine Graf, Heather Gray, Nancy Grimes, Kayla Hamilton, Emily K. Harrison, Angela Herron, Heather Himes, CJ Holm, Gerri Houlihan, Tauna Hunter, Elizabeth Johnson, Hadley Kamminga-Peck, Mary Caulkins and Karl Kister, Jennifer Knievel, Nick Krekeler, Shanna Lim, Heather Maloney, Laura Malpass Malpass, Susan Manning, Nicole McClain, Zap Mcconnell, Christie Nelson, Lynn Nichols, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Allison Orr, Thomas Parlon, Ann Pattan, Ursula Payne, Natasha Pcholkina, Jessica Pearson, Carla Peterson, Miriam Phillips, Richard Pilkinton, Linda PiperPrice, Nicole Pouliot, Regina Quillens, Otto Ramstad, Julie Rothschild, Joanna Rotkin, Kelly Rouzan, Laura Ann Samuelson, Emma Scholz, Jamila Scott, Sharon Carter Sheridan, Amy Smith, Julia Smith, Ruth Waalkes, Shay Wafer, Edisa Weeks, Jennifer Welty, Josephine Withers, Chris Witherspoon, Lauren Withhart, Netta Yerushalmy, Mary Helen Young, & Jeramy Zimmerman.
You can ensure the completion of the archive by donating below.