THE DIS/AGREEMENT PROJECT has launched and we are rolling!
50 physical interviews.
THE DIS/AGREEMENT PROJECT is an anti-polarization initiative involving 10 artists from around the globe who are reaching out to interview and exchange with people with whom they agree and profoundly disagree on a topic that is important to them, using a physical interview process. The goal of the project is not debate, argument, or persuasion, but rather a deeper understanding of the people behind the positions and beliefs that they hold.
The 50 interviews will be filmed and the images from interviewees across the world will be brought together to create a single visual dialogue appearing in both live and digital formats, enabling a global exchange that would not be possible in a single physical location or through words alone.
I’m thrilled to be working with this amazing group of artists on this project of humanizing others in the face of division– THE ARTIST COHORT: 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.
This month, the artists are carrying out interviews and we will begin to gather them together soon.
Stayed tuned for more…..
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, an aid program for dance.
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 studied at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, Syria, and graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Damascus University. Through her scientific academic study and artistic work, she strives to understand society from different viewpoints.
Having gained experience ranging from theater and dance to social work and journalism, her goal is to support the establishment of sustainable educational projects focused on empowering young people. In that regard, Nour has conducted
numerous contemporary dance workshops with internal refugee children in Syria.
Most recently she was featured by the Austrian broadcaster ORF on the occasion of the International Day of Peace and UNHCR for International Women’s Day. 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. She has spoken on numerous high-profile panels on refugee and migration issues highlighting young, female voices such as at European Forum Alpbach 2018 alongside former UN SG Ban Ki-Moon and former Austrian President Heinz Fischer.
Nour spent a month at International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in 2016 during the Citizen Artist Incubator project. In 2018, she was part of the Artistic Cast of Migraspectives, an art-science production which premiered at the summer school on evidence and policy, which IIASA hosted together with the European Commission’s Joint Research Center under the under the Auspices of the Austrian EU presidency.
Nour is one of the Founders of SDG 5 Thrive! – an initiative inspiring people across the world to act on issues that matter. She is currently completing her Masters in Public Administration at the Central European University in Vienna.
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 was born in 1990 and works as an independent theater director and choreographer in Beijing. She studied History of Art and Dance Studies in China and Germany.
Since 2015, Wang has been working with different groups of people in her dance theater projects, including old ladies, children and retired ballet dancers. During the creative process, she wanted to help them explore their own performative expression in the theater and to understand how those bodies were shaped by different aesthetics and ideologies.
Her theater works have been invited to VIE Festival Bologna, Beijing Fringe Festival, Wuzhen Theater Festival, among others.
Wang has conducted artist residencies in Shanghai, Berlin and Copenhagen. She was selected as “Dance Hopeful (Hoffnungsträger)” by the German dance magazine ‘Tanz’ in its yearbook 2018.
To bring the final visual dialogue of THE DIS/AGREEMENT PROJECT to your location, please be in touch here.