A practice of humanization through 47 snapshots of attention.
In conflict, our attention is often primarily on the gestures of attack and defense. The Dis/Agreement Project invites attention to a broader spectrum of human gesture, to expand our sense of what matters in times and places of conflict.
Please click here for the project page.
In the project, ten artists from around the world engaged in spoken and physical conversations with people with whom they agreed and disagreed. The gestures of the artists and their conversation partners– 47 people from 11 countries – were then transcribed into written and spoken language, creating choreographic distillations of experience to be again fleshed out into action by the minds of listerners and viewers.
The Dis/Agreement Project is adaptable in form to meet the differing interests and resources of groups and communities. It can appear as a film and / or audio installation, as printed visuals, as a training, an interactive dialogue, or as online acoustic experience available through a QR code. If you are interested in bringing The Dis/Agreement Project to your space or community, please be in touch.
With thanks to my partners on the project: Jumana Al Refai (Kuwait), Nour Barakeh (Syria/ Austria), Isaac Blake (UK Romani Gypsy), Mayra Hernandez (USA), Ani Javian (USA) , Jacquey Nyaminde (Kenya), Valerie Oliveiro (Singapore/ USA), Jakevis Thomason (USA), Mengfan Wang (China).
Please see more info on the artist cohort below.
THE DIS/AGREEMENT PROJECT is supported by the Goethe Institutes of Boston and Chicago, the Rutgers University Dance Department of Mason Gross School of the Arts, and the National Performance Netz- Stepping Out, funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, as part of the Neustart Kultur Initiative [aid program DIS-TANZEN/ tanz:digital/ DIS-TANZ-START] of the Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.
THE ARTIST COHORT OF THE DIS/AGREEMENT PROJECT:
JUMANA AL REFAI is a choreographer, teacher, dancer, and founder and director of the Haraka Center for Movement Arts in Kuwait (HCMA).
Born and raised in Kuwait, Al Refai has over 20 years of dance training in ballet, modern, contemporary, and improvisation, specifically in Horton and Graham techniques and Gaga.
Al Refai earned a Bachelor in Arts & Graphic Design from the American University of Kuwait, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, from the George Mason University’s School of Dance. During her time at Mason, she completed two dance residencies where she performed repertoires by renowned dancers and choreographers like Robert Battle of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and Soon-ho Park of Bereshit Dance Company.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Al Refai joined The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater School- The Ailey School, in New York City where she continued training and choreographing her own pieces. She danced and trained in Gaga, ballet, and contemporary at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and furthered her training in Gaga at the School of Jacob’s Pillow with Bret Easterling, as well as learning the repertoire of renowned dancers and choreographers including Akram Khan at Sadler’s Wells in London.
Al Refai returned to Kuwait in 2018, where she now teaches and choreographs students of different ages and dance experiences. Under her artistic direction, the new HCMA will feature her choreography, and the work of other artists, with the intention of raising dance awareness in Kuwait and the Gulf region.
NOUR BARAKEH Through her scientific study, artistic work, and academic training in public policy, Nour Barakeh strives to understand society from different viewpoints and to communicate complex topics. Her M.A. in Public Administration from Central European University emphasized the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) and environmental policies to mitigate climate change. Developing migration policies and combating human trafficking are also in scope.
With experience ranging from dance and theater to social work and journalism, she aims to support the establishment of sustainable educational projects focused on empowering people through raising awareness, and to counsel governments, NGOs and corporations on policies with a specific focus on the Sustainable Developments Goals. As a Global Citizen, she believes in proactively pursuing the necessary goal of peace.
She previously studied at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus and graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Damascus University. As a sought-after speaker on the SDGs, refugee, and migration issues, she has spoken on numerous high-profile panels highlighting young, female voices such as at European Forum Alpbach alongside former UN SG Ban Ki-moon and former Austrian President Heinz Fischer as well as at a UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development among others. Her theater piece ‘Not a Fate’ – about peace-building among youth in conflict situations – was performed at an event hosted by the Second President of the Austrian Parliament. Nour Barakeh is also an Agents of Change Youth Fellow at Wilson Center.
ISAAC BLAKE is a proud Gay Romany Gypsy and has worked as a professional dancer and choreographer. He is currently Executive Director of the Romani Cultural & Arts Company in Cardiff, UK, which is funded by a variety of major funders and government departments. As Director of the Romani Cultural & Arts Company (RCAC), Isaac has developed arts and performance programmes on Gypsy and Traveller caravan sites with young children and adults, worked in schools and colleges, and promoted arts as a medium for empowerment and advocacy throughout Wales with Gypsy, Roma and Travellers. He has engaged widely with non- Gypsy communities to promote dialogue and improve social cohesion.
His leadership and management of the RCAC has seen the organisation grow from a small voluntary group to a major third sector (NGO) agency that leads the Romani and Traveller field in Wales and is one of the major players in Romani and Traveller advocacy and empowerment in the UK. Isaac has also been a Dance Curator, leading a team of academics and researchers in collating appropriate items and artefacts for the RomArchive. The RomArchive was devised as an international digital archive for art of the Roma, and remains a constantly growing collection of art of all types, complemented by historical documents and scholarly texts.
Isaac has been instrumental in supporting LGBTQI rights in UK, Europe and beyond, particularly with respect to the Gypsy, Roma & Traveller communities. Isaac has supported LGBTQI Gypsy, Roma & Travellers to attend events internationally and Isaac has personally attended such events to be an advocate and representative of his community and to positively promote LGBTQI. Recently, Isaac co-ordinated and produced the first international LGBTQI GRT spoken history archive; publishing a linked e-book to complement the online archive.
MAYRA HERNANDEZ was born and raised in Boston. She trained at the Boston Arts Academy and continued her studies at Smith College, earning two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Dance and Sociology. It was in college that Mayra realized that her calling in life was to engage the community through movement and arts education.
Mayra has danced with Fly by Night Dance Theatre, BoSoma Dance Company, Brayton Dance, Continuum Dance Project, and BEHEARD.WORLD and has had the opportunity to work with many influential choreographers, such as Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, and Ronald K. Brown.
Exploring ways to give back to her community, Mayra first started teaching dance in and around Boston at local community centers, dance schools, and afterschool programs. This work eventually lead her to become a dance educator at Brookline High School, where she currently serves the needs of dancers and future choreographers. Mayra is a registered yoga teacher (RYT) who uses movement as means for her students to listen to their bodies, move with intention, accept change, and cultivate a deep sense of gratitude for life.
Mayra’s innate love for the arts and education has inspired her to obtain her MSEd in Teacher Leadership from Walden University, where she enjoys exploring movement as a vehicle to expand the role of the arts to be a connective force between individuals and communities. Mayra is thrilled to be a part of the DIS/AGREEMENT Project.
ANI JAVIAN is a movement artist whose research is rooted in her ideas about humans as story-tellers, story-holders, and story-makers.
She is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, in New Jersey, USA. Her choreography has been shared in Bangkok, Thailand, at REDCAT in Los Angeles, and at prominent venues in New York City and elsewhere. Her creative work has received funding from Dance NJ, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and in 2016, she received an Individual Excellence Award in Choreography from The Ohio Arts Council.
As a performer, she has worked with Molly Lieber, Gladys Bailin, and Natalie Desch, among others, and she currently works with Philadelphia-based artist Paige Phillips. Ani is a Board Member of the American College Dance Association and was previously a member of OhioDance’s Board of Trustees. She holds an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University and a BA in Dance and English from Connecticut College.
JACQUELINE NYAMINDE is a mother, a professional actress, a radio presenter (Media Max), and an Mcee/ situation comedian, living in Kenya.
Miss Nyaminde has been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years, working as an actress in television for 9 years on “Papa Shirandula”, in films such as “Ndoto Za Elbidi” and “Numbers” and in theater at the Phoenix Players Theater, Safe Kenya, and the Kenya National Theater. As a radio presenter, she has worked with “The Bet” by Good Karma Fiction, Citizien Radio, and currently with Milele FM.
She is a patron for the Koru girls drama club and the Kiboro primary school Wasichana Tuinuke, and the Cancer Good Will Mcee, as well as AMREF’s White Ribbon Alliance safe motherhood goodwill ambassador.
VALERIE OLIVEIRO is a queer transdisciplinary artist and activist in the performance field based in the Twin Cities and born in Singapore. While she currently engages movement has her primary motor for expression, she also presents drawing, writing, photography, video, environmental design and mixed media installation as simultaneously complicit, complexly relational proposals. She has performed in the work of Jennifer Monson, Morgan Thorson, Bouchra Ouizugen, Pramila Vasudevan, Rosy Simas and Emily Gastineau. Her work has been presented at Walker Art Center, Red Eye Theater, Hair+Nails Gallery and Bryant Lake Bowl.
Currently, she is one of 7 Co-Artistic Directors at Red Eye Theater, an ensemble member at Lightning Rod (a queer trans collective led performance group), and co-runs a small performance incubator MOVO SPACE. She is also proud to be involved in the work of the MN Artist Coalition.
JAKEVIS THOMASON is from Greenville, South Carolina, and began his training at Dianne’s School of Dance. A 2020 graduate of the University of Southern California’s prestigious Kaufman School of Dance, he trained closely with renowned faculty across a spectrum of forms, from concert to commercial, shaping him into what Kaufman calls a “hybrid artist.” Jakevis is a prolific artist with a passion for teaching and choreography and is gaining recognition as both a creative director and choreographer for screen and stage. His goal is to bring his unique style and ideas to the commercial, concert, Broadway, and studio scenes of dance.
Jakevis has received commissions to create & debut work in Cabo San Jose, Mexico, Santa Barbara, California, and Traverse City, Michigan. Since 2018, he has assisted and worked closely with choreographer Frank Gatson, creative director for recording artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. Through Gatson’s mentorship, Jakevis has earned the opportunity to work with and choreograph for artists such as Jussie Smollett and Brandy.
He looks forward to a long career of performing and teaching, and eventually hopes to have his own company to showcase his works.
MENGFAN WANG (b. 1990) is a theater director and choreographer, with training in the history of art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, and dance studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz, Cologne.
Seeking to explore performative expressions of ordinary people, her dance theater practice engages middle-aged women and children through a collaborative rework of daily acts and recently focuses on ageing bodies by working with retired ballet dancers. Wang is selected as “Dance Hopeful (Hoffnungsträger)” by German dance magazine tanz in its yearbook 2018. Her dance works have been invited to VIE Festival Bologna, Beijing Fringe Festival, Wuzhen Theater Festival, among others, with support from Ibsen International, Goethe-Insitut China, Department for Culture and Education of the German Consulate General.
Her artist residencies span across Kyoto, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Zurich, including working with Theater HORA supported by the Swiss Arts Council. Her recent collaboration with Jingru (Cyan) Cheng and Chen Zhan is supported by Graham Foundation.
To bring the final visual dialogue of THE DIS/AGREEMENT PROJECT to your location, please be in touch here.