Brave New Voices
Four New Works highlight female bodies and their stories at Women and Their Work
For their next major in-store performance event, Women and Their Work Gallery (WATW) invites you to enjoy an evening of New Work: Performances featuring an exciting chorus of voices comprised of four amazing Austin storytellers.
As contemporary performance continues to blur the lines between theatre, storytelling, dance and visual art, these four women blend them together for a fully immersive evening of creative personal expression. Collaborators Florinda Bryant, Sade Jones, Natasha Mevs-Korff and Wura-Natsha Ogunji offer their latest individual multimedia works in order to capture the varieties of their personal experiences.
WATW Executive Director Chris Cowden reached out to Bryant and Ogunji — both incredibly unique in their performance styles — to facilitate an evening of new performance works at the gallery space. The two artists decided to expand the diversity of the evening by each inviting fellow sister artists to accompany them.
"We were really interested in bringing together different types of performance. For me pesonally, I was like, 'Yeah, a dancer!" recalls Bryant. After working with Jones in last year's UpRise! Productions staging of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow was Enuf, Bryant immediately thought to invite the show's brilliant choreographer. "She, like the other three women [in the show], ain't afraid to work the work, and that is inspirational."
By day, Bryant is the Company Manager at Theatre Action Project and a long-standing member of The Austin Project, the women's writing and "jazz aesthetic" performance collective at the John L. Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies at UT. Her latest piece, "Short Walks and Hamhocks," is a creative retelling of childhood memories told through monologues, poem and song.
Bryant's sister artist, Jones, will present a new solo piece called "My Toughest Critic," which explores the tendency for artists to regret their mistakes and the eventual necessity "to step out of your own way." The Ballet Afrique Austin dancer and choreographer argues that artists must focus on their process of creation, and privilege it over the overall end-goal of a performance.
Meanwhile, Guggenheim Fellow and Austin favorite Wura-Natasha Ogunji employs her award-winning storytelling techniques to share tales pulled directly from her father's dream journal in her piece, "A tortoise walks majestically on window ledges." Spanning 15 years of his fantastical dreaming life, Ogunji evokes the mysterious, impossible landscapes of his dreams, which reveal clues about his past, their present and her future.
Ogunji invited musically-inclined Mevs-Korff after the women worked together in two prior performance pieces: "by a quiet sea" and the multi-city "100 black women, 100 actions" project. Mevs-Korff is a member of the UT Hispanic Caribbean Ensemble, drawing upon her Puerto Rican heritage. For Thursday's performance, the performer will sing a collection of South American and Caribbean songs over accompanying video projections in her new piece entitled "Push Through."
Each of these four women approach performance from their own background and personal preferences that will cover an impressively wide spectrum of mediums. Theirs are voices, bodies and processes we unfortunately don't get to see performing together in such an unrestrained format — and for free! — so this one-of-a-kind evening cannot be recommended enough.