Inside the Pillow Lab: Theresa Ruth Howard
For this Pillow Lab, MoBBallet (Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet) founder Theresa Ruth Howard tapped 2021 Guggenheim Choreographic Fellow Christopher Huggins to enter a process with eight international Black dancers, most of whom participated in the Kennedy Center’s Reframing the Narrative residency curated by Howard, for which she commissioned Donald Byrd to create "From Other Suns". MoBBallet’s next focus is on Black ballet choreographers and those of color. In keeping with MoBBallet’s 360˚ approach to transforming the field of ballet, Pathways To Performance Choreographic Program (PTP) cultivates and mentors Black choreographers (and those of color) who are working specifically in the ballet idiom. In addition, PTP supports Black contemporary choreographers (and those of color) who are interested in investigating working in the Ballet idiom, while aiding established—but unknown and overlooked—makers in breaking glass ceilings that have prevented them from leveling up in the dance world by providing concrete opportunities for them to create work and present it on mainstages. This Pathways to Performance Choreographic Program Pillow Lab provides an opportunity for Huggins, who works internationally and does not have a traditional home base, to work with a highly selective group of ballet artists outside of a traditional company setting to investigate his aesthetic in a ballet vernacular, and specifically, working on pointe. In 2015, he set "In the Mirror of Her Mind" on Dance Theatre of Harlem, dipping his toe into the ballet space, but he was not afforded another opportunity to investigate the possibility of commuting his dynamic contemporary work into a balletic context. Pathways to Performance offers him a risk-free environment to explore. Curator: Theresa Ruth Howard Choreographer: Christopher Huggins Dancers: Precious Adams, Corey Bourbonniere, Joshua Bodden, Princess Reid, Jonathan Philbert, Miranda Silveira, Raquel Smith, Tyrone C. Walker Support Team: Chandra Moss Throne, Darrell Bowles About Theresa Ruth Howard Theresa Ruth Howard is a writer, diversity strategist, former ballet dancer, and the founder and curator of Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet (MoBBallet.org), which has been a pioneer in the efforts to create cultural reform that supports the diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism in the field of ballet and the classical arts through education and advocacy. The New York Times has called her “a force for change.” MoBBallet has expanded the perception of ballet—who it is for and who participates—by restoring history with MoBBallet’s digital archives, featuring resources including: Timeline, Roll Call, Constellation Project (created in collaboration with Williams College), Digital Learning Hub, and digital installations. About Christopher Huggins Christopher L. Huggins is a visionary dance innovator. He is an Alvin Ailey disciple and historian, developing multilayered storytelling through dance. Huggins attended Purchase University, the Juilliard School, and was a merit scholar at the Ailey School. He’s a former soloist of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Aterballetto of Reggio Emilia, Italy. His work is rooted in research that memorializes our darkest history. This is found in his ballet The List, a story about the systemic genocide of Jewish families and those in concentration camps. His ballet New Fruit, inspired by Nina Simone’s music, documents terror lynching. Through his dance initiative, he provides access to emerging dancers and choreographers to study abroad with him. He works around the globe and has held residencies at over 25 universities and colleges. Christopher is a multi-award winner, including: two Alvin Ailey Awards from Black Theater Alliance, a Walt Disney Diversity award, a Critics Choice award, and a silver medalist of the International Dance Competition in Seoul, South Korea. He holds the distinction of being the “repetiteur'' of Mr. Ailey’s ballets. As he continues his dance legacy, Christopher wants his work to heal, entertain, and inspire humankind. RESIDENCY DATES: March 10-18, 2023 NEL SHELBY PRODUCTIONS Nel Shelby, Producer Taylor Hutchison, Videographer Sonia Bartolomeo, Editor Benjamin Richards, Graphic Animation Sonia Bartolomeo, Project Manager The 2022-2023 PILLOW LAB RECEIVES LEADERSHIP SUPPORT FROM: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation © 2022 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Inc.