Connect // The Commons 2019

The Commons 2019

Commons logo 3


Carolina Performing Arts is thrilled to announce the selection of artists for the inaugural Commons residency and festival. The Commons is a new initiative devoted to supporting performing artists and fostering local creative community and discourse in and around the Triangle.

Megan Yankee: Qué gringa, que gringa (new excerpt)

Justin Tornow: Performance as a Responsive Practice

Eb. Brown, Daniel Coleman, Joie Lou Shakur: Nu Mas(k)ulinities

The three artist/artist groups were selected from a competitive pool of applicants; selections were made by CPA staff based on input from a panel of UNC and non-UNC artists and locally-based arts administrators. Each selected artist/group uses performance in a unique way to forge connections between audience members and performer(s), and to pose pressing questions about the role of art and community-building in the Triangle region. The Commons is co-sponsored by UNC Summer School, the Department of Communication at UNC, and INDY Week.

“These artists offer compelling and distinct proposals of how performance can be used to mobilize social and political engagement and strengthen local and national communities,” said Alexandra Ripp, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Carolina Performing Arts. She continued, “Justin plans to develop a score-based happening: by using chance procedures, it breaks the line between performer and audience and uses performance as a collaboration and mode of response. Megan proposes to combine action dialogues with audiences and solo performance to investigate the highly politicized topics of borders, heritage, translation and identity in the context of recent ICE raids. Eb., Joie Lou, and Daniel plan to merge dialogue, movement, sound, and imagery into a participatory performance that works toward undoing patriarchy, remaking Black masculinity, and ending sexual violence.”

The Commons residency will begin May 7, 2019, and will culminate in a three-day festival at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio in downtown Chapel Hill (May 30 – June 1), with a selected artist/group showing work each evening. During the residency, the Commons artists will have studio time (to be shared with another locally based artist of their choosing); in-process feedback sessions; and will work with students from UNC professor Tony Perucci’s Introduction to Performance Studies class. Each artist will also be assigned an embedded writer, who will write about the artist’s process throughout the residency and about the final performance. These pieces will be posted on INDY Week’s website in a special section, edited by Ripp and INDY Week’s Arts and Culture Managing Editor Brian Howe.

Check back regularly for updates on The Commons, including further additions to the festival schedule.


Megan Yankee: Qué gringa, que gringa (new excerpt)

Born in Kansas, Yankee is a mestizx-American nomad who has lived and danced in Texas, Oklahoma, California, Ohio and North Carolina. Her movement background varies wildly from featured soloist with the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps, to award-winning dance educator, and to international performer who has presented works in Northern Ireland, Burkina Faso, and Uganda. As a choreographer, educator and arts administrator, she prioritizes welcoming people and children of all experience levels, incomes, abilities, ages, and heritages into the dance world. Her choreography highlights non-linear, spontaneous composition; site-responsivity; performer wellbeing; and direct interaction between dancers and audiences. She has performed in works by David Dorfman, Bebe Miller, Amii LeGendre, Michael Foley (with permission by Mary Williford-Shade), and Larry Keigwin.

Justin Tornow: Performance as a Responsive Practice

Justin Tornow (MFA) is a dance artist, educator, and researcher based in Durham, NC. Her artistic work is primarily collaborative and interdisciplinary, created with a core group of collaborators in visual art, sound design, filmmaking, and lighting design. Tornow teaches college-level courses and workshops in dance technique, composition, and repertory. She was a 2018-2019 Cunningham Dance Research Fellow with The New York Public Library, publishing original research on the pedagogy and practice of the technique titled Cunningham Technique as a Practice of Freedom. She continues this research work through workshops and series, examining sustainable pedagogy methods for dance technique and compositional practice.

Eb. Brown, Daniel Coleman, Joie Lou Shakur: Nu Mas(k)ulinities

Eb. Brown is the Chief Innovations Officer for Strategies4Freedom, an incubator nourishing invisible leaders to pursue and sustain their freedomwork. He has worked for the last decade curating and facilitating social justice workshops, convenings, conferences and retreats that use healing/arts (HeART) justice practices to deconstruct and reimagine equity and justice. Through the creation of gathering spaces like Black Folks Dinner and Black Love Convergence, Eb. centers Blackness as a source of creativity, possibility and resistance while conducting an immersive experience of transformation. Emerging as a creative, Eb.’s praxis uses sound, storytelling, and ritual embodiment to explore themes of power, post-masculinity, accountability and survivorship in their debut artistic endeavor, Nu Mas(k)unlinities.

Joie Lou Shakur is a Black trans immigrant from Jamaica. They are currently a Southern organizer, medicine maker, and filmmaker living in Durham, NC. Joie Lou is the founder of House of Pentacles, a Black trans film training program and production house. In addition to their work with House of Pentacles, Joie Lou facilitates healing circles for Black folks at the intersection of sexual violence and racial violence. They serve as the Healing & Safety Chair of BYP100’s Durham Chapter where they get Black folks ready to inherit the freedoms we’re collectively fighting for. When they’re not building Black futures, Black Trans possibilities, or behind a camera, you can find Joie Lou dancing, practicing karaoke, or cooking traditional Jamaican Sunday dinners on a Tuesday.

Daniel B. Coleman is a performance artist, movement poet and writer. He articulates his body as a physical medium for story sharing, transfer, and as a container for larger social bodies. Through physical movement and intentional stillness, Daniel uses embodiment practices as a form of artistic mediumship to both channel and transform energies surrounding the social-political landscapes in which he traverses. He creates experiences of ritual that require rigorous engagement with the performer and with fellow witnesses, inviting audiences to leave with traces and hauntings, welcoming other modes of being in the world. Daniel has been a core troupe member of La Pocha Nostra (2014-2016), and a street artivist-organizer with Arte Acción en Chiapas (2013-2015).


The Commons is a new initiative devoted to supporting performing artists and fostering local creative community and discourse in and around the Triangle.

Supported by Carolina Performing Arts, this inaugural program offers a four-week residency, billing in a public festival at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, and critical feedback for the three selected locally-based artists whose applications most keenly demonstrate that their intended performance is pressing for this time, place, and community. Successful proposed projects will question and break accepted performance conventions, invite audience co-creation, and take bold artistic risks.

The Commons Festival will feature performances by the selected artists, as well as additional events, from networking to roundtables on performance criticism/arts writing. Fellowships also include a stipend. We’re grateful to INDY Week, the UNC Communication Department, and UNC Summer School program for being partners in The Commons.

The Commons was created with the belief that, ideally, “artistic citizenship” relies on connections between individuals and their larger artistic community. Starting in May, selected performing artists-in-residence will be given free studio time in a Carolina Performing Arts-provided space over four weeks to work on a performance to be shown publicly at The Commons Festival (May 30-June 1, 2019). Each artist will be paired with a writer/critic during this process and for a talkback experience at the festival.

Application period: January 14–February 21, 2019
The Commons Residency: May 7–29, 2019
The Commons Festival: May 30–June 1, 2019