About the Event
Shamel Pitts and the Brooklyn-based arts collective TRIBE debut an electrifying new live performance in their ongoing Red Series exploring Black multiplicity and human connection.
The new work, titled Touch of RED, is a duet for two Black men set inside a contemporary boxing ring—a space that might traditionally suggest an aggressive competition between male athletes for entertainment purposes. Yet in Touch of RED, the two dancers imbue this boxed-in site with an intense energy drawn from the power of vulnerability, effeminacy, and the healing that occurs when Black men are allowed to soften, together. During the performance audiences will be seated around the four sides of the ring, which strategically conceals or frames the action. Transforming the space into a pulsing night club dance floor, Touch of RED invites the audience to experience the anticipation, energy, and collective softening that accompanies a good party—and reframe their expectations of time, space, and normative identity.
Reimagining the boxing ring from a space of duels to one of duets, Touch of RED unfolds over the course of ten rounds:
- RED Pollock
- The Glitch
- gloves off!
- Father | Son
- Borderline Blood Burial
Frictions is organized by Tara Aisha Willis, Curator in Performance, with Laura Paige Kyber, Curatorial Associate in Performance.
Concept Direction & Choreographer: Shamel Pitts
Performers: Tushrik Fredericks, Shamel Pitts
Artistic Production Manager & Lighting Designer: Rus Snelling
Video Light & Mapping Designer: Lucca Del Carlo
Scenic Design: Mimi Lien
Costume Designer: Dion Lee
Costume Stylists: TT Britt & Tushrik Fredericks
Shoe Apparel: Fulton Cobbler (Brooklyn, NY) – customized “gloves”
Original Musical Score: Sivan Jacobovitz
Additional Music: Ben Frost – A Single Point of Blinding Light
Dramaturge: Ashley Pierre-Louis
Lindy Hop Instructor: LaTasha Barnes
Cinematographer: Taylor Antisdel
Creative Director: Mirelle Martins
About the Artists
TRIBE is a Brooklyn-based Afrofuturistic arts collective dedicated to creating, producing, and sharing original multidisciplinary global art projects founded in December 2019 by choreographer and performer Shamel Pitts. Understanding that performance art and live art are practices of human connection, TRIBE acts nationally and internationally by developing art exchanges in collaboration with institutions and artists, with a focus on the African diaspora.
TRIBE’s mission is to seize space and create a platform for artists – most specifically artists of color – with huge inspiration from the Afrofuturism movement. This movement states that we have a responsibility through our work to tell new stories and create a brighter future that is different, and shines more luminously, from its past. Ultimately, TRIBE aims to bring its audience and community into experiences that humanize Black and Brown bodies and share the colorfulness within Blackness that allows us to be multiplicitous. TRIBE is a 92Y Harkness Dance Center’s Artist In Residence for the 2020-2021 season.
2020 Guggenheim Fellow Shamel Pitts (Concept Director, Choreographer, Performer, Founding Artistic Director) is a performance artist, choreographer, conceptual artist, dancer, spoken word artist, and teacher. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Shamel began his dance training at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and the Performing Arts and, simultaneously, at The Ailey School. He is 2003 YoungArts Finalist and a first prize winner of the YoungArts competition. Shamel then went on to receive his BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and was awarded the Martha Hill Award for excellence in dance. He began his dance career in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance and BJM_Danse Montreal. Shamel danced with Batsheva Dance Company for seven years, under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin, and is a certified teacher of Gaga movement language. He is an adjunct professor at The Juilliard School and has been an artist in residence at Harvard University. He is the recipient of a 2018 Princess Grace Award in Choreography, a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Award winner in Choreography, a 2020 Jacob’s Pillow artist in residence and a 2021 New York Dance Award winner (The Bessies). Shamel is the Founding Artistic Director of TRIBE, a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary arts collective. Shamel Pitts | TRIBE is also a New York Live Arts Live Feed artist in residence.
Tushrik Fredricks (Performer & Costume Stylist) is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award (Chris Helman dance honor), nominated by TRIBE in 2021, and is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. Growing up, Tushrik found himself drawn towards the style “KRUMP.” He graduated from the Peridance Certificate Program in New York in June 2015, and has had the opportunity to work with Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY (Danielle Agami, Artistic Director), Sidra Bell Dance New York, and UNA Productions. Tushrik was an assistant lecturer to Sidra Bell at The University of the Arts Philadelphia for Sophomore students (2016-2018). In May 2021 Tushrik received 3rd Prize for Dance at the SoloTanz Festival in Stuttgart for his self-choreographed solo (territory) of the heart. In November 2022, the work will be presented at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts.
Rus Snelling (Artistic Production Manager & Lighting Designer) is an Australian artist with a career spanning over thirty years who has worked as a production, stage, site, and tour manager, lighting and set designer, consultant, technical director, and fire sculptor with arts organizations and institutions. He has freelanced on events and installations around the world, ranging from intimate theatrical works to shows on and off Broadway in New York and on London’s West End. His work includes large-scale indoor and outdoor festivals, the Sydney Olympic Ceremonies, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Ceremonies & Cultural Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Montreal Just for Laughs, Edinburgh Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Vancouver Winter Olympics Cultural Festival, Centennial celebrations, river and street parades, tours, and various music festivals. Some artists Rus has worked with are Merce Cunningham, Laurie Anderson, John Leguizamo, Philip Glass, Brian Eno, Tim Robbins & The Actors Gang, Taylor Mac, Patti Smith, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Bandaloop, Camille A Brown & Dancers, Abraham.In.Motion, and Streb & Phantom Limb Company, among many others. HE has worked on projects and tours in Australia, the United States, Canada, Tunisia, Europe, Asia, and South America. Rus worked at PS122 in New York many moons ago, and was the founding Production Manager and Resident Lighting Designer at Oz Arts Inc in Nashville, Tennessee, for six years before moving to Miami to continue freelance work. He is proudly working on the tour of And So We Walked featuring DeLanna Studi and is excited and honored to be part of the creation of Touch of RED with TRIBE.
Lucca Del Carlo (Video Mapping & Lighting Designer) Lucca Del Carlo is a graphic designer and video artist from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and is a founding member of the Brooklyn- and New York-based multidisciplinary arts collective known as TRIBE. He has created lighting and video mapping projections for numerous performance works and has toured and performed live with the collective all over the world. He specializes in transmedia, which mixes cinema techniques, concepts from architecture, visual arts, light design, and technology, and integrates those into the direction and creation of scenography, immersive environments, and visual live shows. In his view, all ways of visual communication have interlacing points, not only using technology but also using human cognition and its related censorial illusions. Del Carlo’s specialty is mixing it in new ways to inspire and break common patterns in visual expression.
Mimi Lien (Set Design) Mimi Lien is one of the most acclaimed set designers of her generation, active in theater, dance, opera, and large-scale site-specific installations. Arriving at set design from a background in architecture, her work often focuses on the interaction between audience/environment and object/performer. A winner of numerous awards, Lien was honored with a TONY Award (2017 for Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812) and is the first-ever set designer to be named a MacArthur Fellow (2015). She is also a recipient of the Cullman Award for Extraordinary Creativity at Lincoln Center Theater, a Bessie Award, Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, American Theatre Wing Hewes Design Award, LA Drama Critics Circle Award, and an OBIE Award for sustained excellence. Her designs have been seen nationally and internationally at such venues as Soho Rep, the Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Joyce Theater, Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, the Goodman Theatre, and Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre (Russia), Intradans (Netherlands), and National Theatre (Taiwan), among many others. She is an artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and co-founder of the performance space JACK.
Dion Lee (Costume Designer) is the founder and Creative Director of the eponymous brand hailing from Sydney, Australia, established in 2009. Renowned for experimental construction combined with traditional tailoring, the brand has pioneered a modern identity for Australian fashion. The Dion Lee aesthetic is technical with an intelligent sensuality. Each collection marries innovative construction, with a consciousness of the form. Textiles are engineered to form sculptural embellishments. Architectural silhouettes are dissected to enhance movement and the flow of air and light. After debuting at Australia Fashion Week, Dion Lee presented collections in London before relocating to New York, where the brand has become a permanent fixture on the seasonal schedule. In 2013, Cue Clothing Co. acquired a shareholding stake in Dion Lee as part of a strategic partnership to develop and accelerate the brand’s domestic and international growth. Dion Lee is sold globally in over forty of the world’s most exclusive retailers including Net-A-Porter, Selfridges and Lane Crawford. Australia is home to seven flagship stores, each designed to reflect the constructed nature of the product in an environment that is both industrial and luxurious.
TT Britt (Costume Stylist) is a multidisciplinary artist based in NYC. TT’s storytelling origins began with their work as a fashion stylist, and in recent years, those narratives have grown to include sonic transmissions as a DJ. The Virginia native is based in New York and draws inspiration from their communities both here and across the globe. Infusing the classic shape-shifting sounds of the Midwest with the paradigm-shifting sounds of Berlin, Copenhagen, Malmö, and beyond, their sets will take you on a hard-hitting celestial journey through euphoric melodies, spastic synths, and cunty chants. Uniting rhythmic frequencies of opposing forces, TT’s singular style is much like that of a “Meditating Gunrunner.”
Sivan Jacobovitz (Original Musical Score) lives in Brooklyn. Dance collaborations include TRIBE | Shamel Pitts’s Black Hole (touring internationally) and Touch of RED; Kimberly Bartosik’s I hunger for you (BAM Next Wave) and through the mirror of their eyes (NYLA – Bessie Outstanding Production Honoree); MENAGERIE (with Shamel Pitts/Deville Cohen/Gibney Company); ASSEMBLY with GREYZONE.
Ashley Pierre-Louis (Dramaturge) grew up on the lands of the Tequesta, Miccosuki, and Seminole tribes. With education from New World School of the Arts and later from Florida State University, Pierre-Louis began to discover her passion for movement, the human form, and arts administration. Ashley is currently artistic administrator and performer with Shamel Pitts’s multidisciplinary arts collective, TRIBE. Ashley is the associate choreographer for the play Help (2022) by acclaimed poet and playwright Claudia Rankine, directed by Taibi Magar and commissioned at The Shed in New York. She is also in process with Indigenous choreographer Emily Johnson in her newest multi-scalar creation, Being Future Being. She has premiered the play Thoughts of a Colored Man by playwright Keenan Scott II and director Steve Broadnax III at Syracuse Stage and Baltimore Center Stage. She has performed for the premiere of Donna Uchizono’s work March Under an Empty reign at The Joyce: NY Quadrille Festival, has been one of GALLIM’s Moving Women spring artist-in-residence. She has also been a part of Alvin Ailey’s inaugural Choreography Unlocked Festival under the direction of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Urban Bush Women, and Robert Battle. Ashley has attended the School at Jacob’s Pillow and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, as well as Gaga intensives in Tel Aviv and New York.
LaTasha Barnes (Lindy Hop Instructor) is an internationally recognized and awarded dance artist, educator (Asst. Prof of Dance ASU), and tradition-bearer of Black American Social Dance. Currently operating between New York and Phoenix, Barnes’s expansive artistic, competitive, and performative skills have made her a frequent collaborator to arts organizations around the world. She is also honored to serve on the Brain Trust guiding the groundbreaking stage production SW!NG OUT, as well as the visionary creator and Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed, intergenerational, and intercommunal cultural arts experience The Jazz Continuum.
Taylor Antisdel (Cinematographer) is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and photographer, with a BFA in Directing from the School of Visual Arts. With a background in filmmaking, he strives to create photographs that are cinematic and multilayered.
Mirelle Martins (Creative Director) Originally from Brazil, Mirelle Martins received her bachelor’s degree in Social Communications from UnB (Brasília, 2002-06). She has worked as an artist, independent curator, and art producer since 2010. In 2013, Mirelle started to research performance art with the intensive summer course of Gaga.People.Dancers in New York. Since 2015, she has been producing Gaga courses yearly in Brazil, so far reaching over 1,200 students. In 2016, as a 32-year old, Mirelle made her dancing debut in BLACK VELVET, a duet by Shamel Pitts, with light designer Lucca Del Carlo. The show toured in the United States and internationally from 2017 to 2020 and has received the Audience Choice Award in Stockholm Fringe Festival (Sweden, 2017) and Best Out of Town Production by ArtsATL (Atlanta, 2018), with sold-out performances at ImPulsTanz (Vienna, 2018), BAM Fisher (Brooklyn, 2019), and Adelaide Festival (Adelaide, 2020). Martins was also part of the creation of BLACK HOLE (Pitts, 2018), where she collaborated as performer and costume designer. Since 2019, Mirelle is one of the founding artists of TRIBE, Brooklyn-based arts collective led by Pitts, where she also acts as Creative Director.
This performance includes loud pulsing music, moving lights, and theatrical haze for the duration of the work. The piece runs 61 minutes with no intermission. There will be no late seating.
On Saturday, April 8, the performance will include ASL interpretation, audio description, and CART captioning.
Lead support for the 2022–23 season of MCA Performance and Public Programs is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman.
Major support is provided by the Alphawood Foundation and by Julie and Larry Bernstein.
Generous support is provided by Lois and Steve Eisen and The Eisen Family Foundation; Ginger Farley and Bob Shapiro, Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley, Jr. Family Foundation; N.A., Trustee; Susan Manning and Doug Doetsch; and Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund.
The MCA is a proud member of the Museums in the Park and receives major support from the Chicago Park District.
Support for this Project
This engagement is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts.
Touch of RED is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow, YoungArts, Miami Light Project INC, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, New York Live Arts INC, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and NPN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, Office of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). Touch of RED is also made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. We’d like to also thank the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Trust for Mutual Understanding, GIBNEY, and The Harkness Foundation for Dance. Bubble residency guidance provided by Duke Dang and medical consultant Dr. Wendy Ziecheck.
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.
Learn more about Shamel Pitts | TRIBE and the process behind Touch of RED in this video created for the performance series On Stage: Frictions.