HOW TO BEND DOWN/ HOW TO PICK IT UP To Premiere At The Shed This August

As part of its Open Call program, The Shed will present the world premiere of How to Bend Down/ How to Pick it Up, directed by Kayla Hamilton, August 15-17.

By: Jun. 24, 2024
HOW TO BEND DOWN/ HOW TO PICK IT UP To Premiere At The Shed This August
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As part of its Open Call program, The Shed will present the world premiere of How to Bend Down/ How to Pick it Up, directed by Kayla Hamilton, August 15-17. This 12-person in-person ensemble work, with 4 collaborating Disabled choreographer video appearances, explores lineages of Black Disabled imagination and alternative world-building through an immersive, multidisciplinary dance performance.

How to Bend Down/ How to Pick it Up moves through three historical spaces-the cotton field, the Black church, and the freakshow/circus-where Black disability was hidden, deemed unproductive, reduced to spectacle, or asked to be prayed away. The work offers an archival exploration of these spaces and a reclaiming of agency, recentering the parts of the self that were discarded or suppressed in those settings while carrying forward the ancestral task of envisioning a future where every-body is free. This multifaceted work features dance, spoken word, singing, text, and video.

Access is central to the creative process and performance. How to Bend Down/ How to Pick it Up includes a performance, production, and access structure that can shift and reconfigure every night based on this cross-disability cast and performers' changing needs. Multiple audio descriptions, which are often only delivered through headset or earphones, will be integrated into the performance soundscape. ASL interpretation is embedded in the show and will also be available for all performances for pre-show commentary, during the performance, and pre- and post-show for lobby conversations.

"With How to Bend Down/How to Pick it Up we have built a performance work- a cross-disability space with other Black, Deaf, and disabled individuals-to discover and find new ways of doing/being where Black Disabled imagination and creativities are at the center," shares choreographer/director Kayla Hamilton. "Together we have been making a way for freedom- it's about looking back, and to the present, so we can move forward. Black Disabled creatives have always been here, but we don't always know who they are. This work explores how we can allow that Black Disabled imagination to be part of our present and our futures."

Access note: there are moments of multiplicity where multiple sounds will be happening at the same time. Audience members will be invited to participate in the performance verbally or through written contribution (optional).

How to Bend Down/How to Pick it Up is directed by Kayla Hamilton. Performers include Kahlil Daniel, Brendan Drake, Tess Dworman, Treshelle Edmond, Aleeza Garcia, Kayla Hamilton, Shanika Hewitt, JJ Omelagah, Azure D. Osborne- Lee, Nicole McClam, Nessie Slyker, and Indigo Sparks. Kailyn Aaron-Lozano is Director of ASL; Kahlil Daniel is Music Director; Francisco echo Eraso and Alex Dolores Salerno are Set/Prop Designer; DJ Potts is Sound Designer. Joselia Rebekah Hughes is Writer/Researcher; Alicia Raquel is Rehearsal Director; and Tolly Tillman, Alisa Besher, and Aboti Walters, all from SignNexus, were ASL interpreters in the rehearsal process. Video collaborators include Vanessa Hernandez-Cruz, Jerron Herman, Alex Velozo, and Akhila Vimal, with video production by Jessica Ray.

How to Bend Down/ How to Pick it Up is supported by an NEFA National Dance Project grant, and Bronx Council on the Arts.

About Kayla Hamilton

Kayla Hamilton is a Texas-born, Bronx-based performance maker, dancer, educator, and consultant. She is 2023-2025 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow, A 2023-2024 Pina Bausch Foundation Fellow, a 2024 NEFA National Dance Project Production Grant recipient, and a 2023-2024 Bronx Cultural Visions Fund recipient.

Her past performances have been presented at the Whitney Museum, Gibney, Performance Space NY, New York Live Arts, and Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance. As a dancer, Kayla Hamilton was part of the Bessie Award-winning ensemble Skeleton Architecture while also performing with MBDance/Maria Bauman, Sydnie L. Mosley/SLMDances, and Gesel Mason.

Hamilton has developed/designed access-centered programming for the Mellon Foundation, Movement Research, DanceNYC, and UCLA Dancing Disability Lab. She is the co-director of Angela's Pulse/Dancing While Black with Marguerite Hemmings, Paloma McGregor, and Joya Powell. As an educator she co-developed 'Crip Movement Lab' with collaborator Elisabeth Motley; a pedagogical framework centering cross-disability movement practices which they have taught in multiple dance centers and universities around the country. She has also worked as a K-12 public school special education teacher in NYC for 12 years.

About The Shed

Under the leadership of CEO Meredith "Max" Hodges and founding Artistic Director Alex Poots, The Shed is a cultural institution of and for the 21st century. We produce and welcome innovative art and ideas, across all forms of creativity, to build a shared understanding of our rapidly changing world and a more equitable society. In our highly adaptable building on Manhattan's West Side, The Shed brings together established and emerging artists to create new work in fields ranging from pop to classical music, painting to digital media, theater to literature, and sculpture to dance. We seek opportunities to collaborate with cultural peers and community organizations, work with like-minded partners, and provide unique spaces for private events. As an independent nonprofit that values invention, equity, and generosity, we are committed to advancing art forms, addressing the urgent issues of our time, and making our work impactful, sustainable, and relevant to the local community, the cultural sector, New York City, and beyond.

How to Bend Down/ How to Pick it Up

The Griffin Theater at The Shed, 545 W 30th St, New York, NY 10001

Thursday, August 15; Friday, August 16; Saturday, August 17, all at 7:30pm

Masks are required at every performance.

Estimated run time: 60 minutes, no intermission

Open Call tickets are free and will be available beginning Thursday, July 18.

Image Description: The cast of How to Bend Down/ How to Pick it Up poses for a group photo. Some performers stand and some sit or kneel on the studio floor. It is a joyful moment: everyone is smiling, gesturing, or making a fun face. 

Photo by Maria Baranova.


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