LELA AISHA JONES & DENEANE RICHBURG Philadelphia/Minneapolis based choreographers
“Companionship in Worlds that Divide: Earth Ice Collaborations with/in Brownbodies.” “

For PDP’s Informance, choreographer/skater Deneane Richburg based in Minneapolis and performance artist Lela Aisha Jones based in Philadelphia will present, “Companionship in Worlds that Divide: Earth Ice Collaborations with/in Brownbodies.”

Deneane Richburg, founder/ artistic director of Brownbody and Lela Aisha Jones, founder of FlyGround said, “They met on facebook in 2010, when Philadelphia was both of their homes. Since that time, Brownbody was formed. Deneane is the Artistic Executive Director and Lela is the Associate Artistic Director of Brownbody. For ten years, they have been blurring through developing a partnership in artistry and cultivating a commitment to expressing Black and African diasporic ways of being as living traditions that are infinite and can flow between earth (the stage) and ice (figure skating).”

They ask, “What does it mean to be companions in a field that privileges whiteness and Euro-based ways of being–continuing to look for a single star? How do you walk alongside one another when the system values and rewards individual artist careers? Due to their steadfast admiration for and honoring of one another, they are building a way of moving with each other and black and brown folks on the ice.”

Join us for a reflective conversation between kindreds with a love for artistic adventure, history, and archiving.

DENEANE RICHBURG is the founder and Artistic Director of Brownbody. As the creative home for Richburg’s choreographic work, through Brownbody, she honors the complex narratives of U.S. based Black diasporic communities by taking participants on journeys that disrupt assumptions, ideologies, and disenfranchising popular narratives around blackness. As a modern dance choreographer and former competitive figure skater, Richburg is interested in pushing the boundaries of creative expression on the ice via engaging these narratives as a framework in which somatic based movement exploration occurs. Richburg blends different movement worlds and creates work for both the ice and the stage.
Deneane grew up a competitive figure skater—spending time in spaces where she felt she had to check her racial/cultural identity at the door, as the world of competitive skating was immersed in an ideology that excluded her ancestry’s truths. Working and growing in this space, to quote Zora Neale Hurston, she always felt “most colored when [she was] thrown against a sharp white background.” As she got older, she realized she needed to carve out a space for herself and her ancestral history hence her decision to create Brownbody. Richburg received her MFA in dance and choreography from Temple University in 2007, an MA in Afro-American Studies from UW Madison, and a BA in English and African American Studies from Carleton College. Working with Lela Aisha Jones, Richburg was also the Co-founder of The Requisite Movers, a Philadelphia based program that supports the work of Black female choreographers. Deneane has danced for a number of artists including, Chris Walker, Jose Francisco Barroso, Dr. Kariamu Welsh, Lela Aisha Jones and has performed with Off Leash Area, Flyground, and Kariamu and Company. Richburg is a grateful recipient of a 2017 McKnight Choreography Fellowship, administered by the Cowles Center, funded by The McKnight Foundation, a 2019 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, and a Dance/USA Fellowship to Artists made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

LELA AISHA JONES is a choreographer and performance artist whose work is based in movement and interdisciplinary collaboration. A proud Tallahassee, Florida native, her work intimately and artistically archives lived experiences of diasporic blackness. Her most recent artistic engagements and projects include Revival Walks partnered with The Olney Embrace Project (2020/2021), we all gon’ die into revivals—commissioned for Red Clay Dance in Chicago, IL (2021), Modupue | Ibaye: The Philadelphia Yoruba Performance Project (2019), and the bottom up…Catching Souls in Grounds that Shout…and others merely shaking (2019). Lela’s artistic and activist labor has earned her a 2015 Leeway Transformation Award, a 2016 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and a 2017 New York Dance and Performance/Bessie Award Nomination. Dedicated to comradery and collective building, Lela is also the Associate Artistic Director of Brownbody, a St. Paul Minnesota-based ice and stage dance company. Her most influential experiences have been in movement practice with Christal Brown | Inspirit, Barak Ade Sole, Moustapha Bangoura, Edileusa Santos, Anssumane Silla, Sulley Imoro, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Urban Bush Women | Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Nia Love. Further roles and offerings manifest through her contributions as a teaching artist, professor, community grounded organizer/curator, and researcher. Lela earned a B.S. at University of Florida, an M.F.A. at Florida State University, a Ph.D. at Texas Woman’s University, and is a member of the Bryn Mawr College Dance Program faculty.

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