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Shamel Pitts|TRIBE

19th March 2023.

Opera Madlenianum

BLACK HOLE: Trilogy and Triathlon

choreography: Shamel Pitts
video lighting design: Lucca Del Carlo
music composition and performance: Sivan Jacobovitz
sound collage: Zen Jefferson
artistic production management: Rus Snelling
black tarp design: Naomi Maaravi
costume design: Mirelle Martins
photography, cinematography: Itai Zwecker & The Adeboye Brothers
spoken word: Shamel Pitts
creative director: Mirelle Martins
additional music: Door Of The Cosmos, Sun Ra; AirFlow! Velocity, Keru Not Ever; Fever Dream, Daniel Avery; Funeral Canticle, John Tavener; Radiance, Tim Hecker; Heavy Snow, ChiHei; Hatakeyama; Feeling Good, Nina Simone

performers: Shamel Pitts, Tushrik Fredericks, Marcella Lewis

duration: 1h, 1 min & 1 sec
premiere: Israel Museum, 2018

The work was developed with the kind support of Trust for Mutual Understanding, American Dance Abroad, gloATL, PearlArts Studios, CrossAward (Italy), Dock 11 / Eden (Germany), Derida Dance Center (Bulgaria), Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, Artis, New York Live Arts, and 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center. This engagement is also supported in part by Mid Atlantic Arts through USArtists International, a program in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. Additional TRIBE commissioning, development and core operating support is provided by the Mellon Foundation; Arison Arts Foundation; the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; The Howard Gilman Foundation; Dance/NYC’s Dance Advancement Fund, made possible by the Howard Gilman Foundation and Ford Foundation; 92Y Harkness Dance Center; National Performance Network (NPN) Creation, Development & Artist Engagement Fund Project. The Creation, Development & Artist Engagement Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency); New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

A trio of Black performers, all of African heritage, share the stage in a narrative of unity, vigor, and unrelenting advancement. Their journey originates in the darkness of the titular Black Hole, understood not as a cosmic void but a metaphorical place of transformation and potential. Engulfed in an evocative soundscape of original music, sound samples, and spoken word, the dancers embark on an hour-long, uninterrupted journey in movement in which their tenacity and grace are emphasized by cinematic video projections and stark, monochromatic lights. “Black Hole – Trilogy and Triathlon” concludes the series of deeply personal live performance pieces conceived and choreographed by Pitts since 2015. The first work of this collection, a solo “Black Box – Little Book of Red”, introduced the recurring themes of this cycle: identity, search for the roots and community, and personal evolution of the artist, born “young, gifted and Black.” 2019 saw the New York premiere of “Black Velvet – Architectures and Archetypes” with Brazilian-born Mirelle Martins, “a haunting duet” (New York Times). Collaboration with her and other Black Series artists subsequently spurred the inception of TRIBE, a multidisciplinary collective of international creatives, united by Afro-futuristic ideals and shared goals.

Shamel Pitts is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, as well as performance, conceptual and spoken word artist. Since 2019, he is the artistic director/founder of TRIBE, a New York-based multidisciplinary arts collective. Born in Brooklyn, Shamel began his dance training at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and the Performing Arts and, simultaneously, at The Ailey School. He received his BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and was awarded the Martha Hill Award for excellence in dance. He started his professional dance career with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance and BJM_Danse Montreal. Between 2009-2016, he was a company member of the Batsheva Dance Company, led by Ohad Naharin where he studied Gaga movement language, of which he is now a certified teacher. Since 2015, Shamel has created a triptych of award-winning multidisciplinary works known as “BLACK Series,” which has been performed and toured extensively to many festivals around the world. His recent New York projects include choreography for the play “Help” by acclaimed poet and playwright Claudia Rankine, directed by Taibi Magar, commissioned and presented by The Shed in 2022. He is the recipient of a 2018 Princess Grace Award in Choreography, a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Award winner in Choreography, and a 2020 Jacob’s Pillow artist in residence, a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, and the cast member of the 2021 Bessie Award-winning production of “The Motherboard Suite” at New York Live Arts. He is an adjunct at The Juilliard School and has been an artist in residence at Harvard University.

Is curiously stylish and sincere, glossily cold and tender. Always visually striking, it’s never dull. But it transpires at a distance.
© The New York Times