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Talk | Shamel Pitts in Conversation With Jafari S. Allen

April 08, 20232:00 pm - 3:30 pm

About the Event

Join us for a talk between On Stage: Frictions artist Shamel Pitts and Jafari S. Allen, author of There’s a Disco Ball Between Us: A Theory of Black Gay Life (2021), for a wide-ranging conversation on Pitts’ practice and current project with the MCA, Touch of RED. This event will be held off-site at Wirtz Center For Performing Arts at 710 N Lake Shore Drive.

About the Speakers

Shamel Pitts is the founding artistic director of Brooklyn-based arts collective TRIBE, a multidisciplinary collective dedicated to creative, live art projects that elicit human connection and imagine new futures for Black people. Pitts began his dance career in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance and BJM_Danse Montreal. Pitts 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 at The Juilliard School and has been an artist in residence at Harvard University. Shamel is the choreographer of the play Help by acclaimed poet and playwright Claudia Rankine, directed by Taibi Magar and commissioned at The Shed in New York. He is the recipient of a 2018 Princess Grace Award in Choreography, and a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship.


Jafari Sinclaire Allen is Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University

He is the author of There’s a disco ball between us: a theory of Black gay life, published by Duke University Press in 2022; and ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-Making in Cuba. Dr. Allen is also the editor of the GLQ special issue Black/Queer/Diaspora and has published in numerous journals and collections.

The Founding Director of the Center for Global Black Studies at the University of Miami, Professor Allen taught Anthropology and directed the Program in Africana Studies there; and was Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Yale University.

He is currently at work on the ‘Lessons of the Long 1980s Community Research Project’; and two monographs: Marooned in Miami: Ecologies of Black Life on an Edge; and Structural Adjustments: Global Black Survival in the 1980s.


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:

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.

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