Made to Dance in Burning Buildings by Anya Pearson is an explosive mix of poetry, theatre, and violent and visceral contemporary dance, which poses the question: how do we heal from trauma?

This showcase production will play for one performance at Joe's Pub on Tuesday, April 24 at 7:00 pm. The play is directed by Jamie M. Rea, and choreographed by Emily Bufferd. Anya Pearson will play the character Lady of Utmost Perseverance.

Based on a true story, and inspired by the original choreopoem, Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls, the play seeks to revolutionize the theatrical experience by combining poetry, and gut wrenching contemporary dance, to tell an all too familiar story in a brand-new way.

Made to Dance in Burning Buildings is about Ava, a young black woman, who is raped by her boyfriend's friends while he watches; she develops PTSD as a result. Metaphorically, she fractures into five different women who each represent a different facet of her personality (Romance, Despair, Madness, Perseverance, and Missing You). Poetically, these women narrate her journey through PTSD while she, her first love, and her abusers explore through dance the trauma and the events leading up to it.

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Anya Pearson discussed what inspired her create Made to Dance in Burning Buildings, "When I was 17, I read For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange and it literally saved my life. Art saved my life. I was raped when I was 15 years old and my life at 17 was absolute hell. I had full-blown PTSD and every day was a struggle. I considered suicide. But when my high school English teacher gave me For Colored Girls, I found such solace and comfort in her words, in her characters, I literally found the strength to survive. I just knew I had to survive so that I could share my story and it could reach some little broken girl somewhere. So, she could read my words, see my play, and be touched by it, be saved by it, the way Ntozake Shange had saved me. So that I could have that type of impact. This is that play and that story."

Anya went on to share, "I want to empower all survivors to know that they can come back from the edge, from the depths of their despair, from the unspeakable, from what no one else can understand but them. And for others who have not been through what we have, I hope that they leave with a better understanding of the aftermath of trauma. I remember being in college and hearing a male, who I thought was a friend, say that he would rather have his daughter raped than have her have cancer because at least the suffering would be over after that night. I hope to help educate people about the lasting effects of trauma and its insidiousness."

The cast includes Jennean Farmer (Blue Print Specials/The Public Theatre), Anya Pearson (Made to Dance in Burning Buildings creator), and Monique Sanchez (Drunk Shakespeare/Meme Juice Productions). The production features dancers Shannon Giles (Dance Captain/Celebrity Cruises Productions), and Jordon Waters (LUX Experience/Abrons Art Center). Additional cast members to be announced in March.

Performance takes place on Tuesday, April 24 at 7:00 pm at Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette Street (at Astor Place), New York, NY 10003. Subway: N/R to 8th Street, 6 to Astor Place, B/DF/M Broadway/Lafayette. Running time: 90 minutes. Tickets are $20 and are available at

Anya is the inaugural winner of the Voice is a Muscle Grant from the Corporeal Voices Foundation which is run by best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch. The grant recognizes a writer of color from Oregon who demonstrates exemplary merit and a passion for social justice. Anya received a $10,000 grant from the foundation to help further develop Made to Dance in Burning Buildings.

About Urban Haiku

Urban Haiku is a Production Company located in Portland, Oregon that produces theatre, film, and interdisciplinary works that bridge the gap between innovative live performance, multi-media, and social justice in action. The company is dedicated to producing groundbreaking work that transcends the traditional boundaries of theatre while also serving as the catalyst for art and community action to combine for social change.





Anya Pearson is an accomplished actress, playwright, poet, producer, and activist. She is the current playwright-in-residence for Shaking the Tree Theatre and is the author of the choreopoem, Made to Dance in Burning Buildings which will receive its World Premiere at Shaking the Tree in October 2018. In addition, she is also producing a documentary, which follows the development of the play, her passionate quest to empower other survivors, and dissects rape culture as a whole. Anya is also working on her first collection of poetry and was just featured as a panelist at one of the talkbacks for Eve Ensler's new play, In the Body of the World, at Manhattan Theatre Club. As an actor, she can next be seen as Seneca in Jaclyn Backhaus' Men on Boats for Third Rail Repertory Theatre. An excerpt from her next piece, a fusion of poetry, narrative, dance, visual art, and film about sexual harassment, will debut at SALT at Shaking the Tree in May. Anya is a graduate of the prestigious two-year program at the William Esper Studio in New York City where she studied acting with Terry Knickerbocker. She is also a graduate of the writing program at Marylhurst University. Her best production is truly her 5 ½-year-old daughter, Aidan.

Jamie M. Rea (Director) has studied the work of Sanford Meisner & Robert Bray with Barry Hunt & Sowelu Theatre Ensemble; Suzuki Technique & Anne Bogart's Viewpoints with the Siti Company (NYC); Rhythm Tap with Savion Glover's teacher Lady Diane Walker & Lane Alexander, founder of the National Tap Dance Festival in Chicago. She has danced at The Body, a festival of dance and physical theatre in Christchurch, New Zealand where she trained with the all-female Dance Company JAVA & CircoArts. As a theatre artist in Portland, Oregon, her favorite credits include Kristine in A Doll's House (Drammy award, Best Supporting Actress), Anna (Drammy Finalist, Best Actress) in The Snowstorm (CoHo & Many Hats Productions), Mary Shelley in Bloody Poetry (NW Classical Theatre Co), Claire Zachanassian in The Visit (Broken Toy Piano), Andromache in Trojan Women (Classic Greek Theatre of Oregon), Lucienne in A Flea In Her Ear (OTAS Award-Best Supporting Actress) & Hannah in Arcadia (OTAS finalist-Best Actress/Lakewood Theatre Co), Gabriella in References to Salvador Dali make me hot, Guard in Lorca in a Green Dress (Miracle Theatre) and Elvira in Blithe Spirit (Wilcox Stage Co).

Emily Bufferd (Choreographer) is a producer, choreographer, teacher, and performer. She is the Producer of The Young Choreographer's Festival, an annual event in NYC presenting the most up-and-coming 18-25-year-old choreographers. Emily is a Faculty Member at Joffrey Ballet School for both the Ballet and Contemporary Jazz Trainee Programs, NYC's Broadway Dance Center, and Peridance Capezio Center. She has taught at The Ailey Extension, World Dance Movement - The International Workshop in Switzerland, The University of Alabama, Jazz on Tap - Atlanta, The Eglevsky Ballet, First-Act in Paris, Google Headquarters, and The Annual Teacher Workshop presented by The Pulse On Tour, among others. Emily's concert choreography (BEings dance) has been presented at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Joyce SoHo, Symphony Space, the 92nd St. Y, New York Moves, The Giving Tree Benefit Shows, The Showcase Series, The Choreographer's Canvas, The Elan Summer Dance Festival, and Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, among others. As a performer, she's performed at venues such as Teatro Galileo in Madrid, Spain, Carnegie Hall, The Kravis Center, and Lincoln Center, and has appeared in print and online media for World Dance Movement, The Ailey Extension and Broadway Dance Center. She has also been on The View with recording artist Outkast. Emily has had the pleasure of working with choreographers Michèle Assaf, Sheila Barker, Bruno Collinet, Eva Lopez Crevillen (assistant to Nacho Duato), Ginger Cox, and Shelly Hutchinson, among others, and can currently be found working on upcoming projects and teaching in NYC.

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