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The Resistance Project (Celebrating African Diasporic Women’s Activism through Music and Dance)

A solo performance at the intersection of Gender, Race, and Age. Collaboration by Duane Cyrus and Jonboyondabeat celebrating Black Women


This project is a live solo dance performance work with recorded music currently titled, The Resistance Project (Celebrating African Diasporic Women’s Activism through Music and Dance). New Music/USA funds will support the composition and recording of new music by composer Jonboyondabeat (Alvin Saunders) to be used in the solo performance by internationally renown dance artist Duane Cyrus. Saunders and Cyrus have worked together previously in several professional and academic settings. Most recently, for The Charlotte Ballet for their 2020 Innovative Works series. This will be their fourth collaboration.

The research goal is to create a solo performance work highlighting and investigating representation of Black women and resistance during seminal moments in American history from the Middle Passage to the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements—doing so from their perspective as Black men; to further understand Africanist aesthetics as they relate to music, dance, gender, and aging bodies; to interview women of African descent in their local community about art-making and activism; to participate in a trans-Atlantic dialogue around what Black bodies signify in Western or Eurocentric performance contexts; to deliver forums, development workshops, and the performance outcome to diverse communities that are not regularly exposed to live performing arts and the social message built into this project.

Both Cyrus and Saunders maintain a community-engaged, interdisciplinary approach to their art. Saunders, in addition to his solid track record as a composer, is also the author of Alie Rose, a children’s book with illustrations by Azizza Albergottie that presents a message of positive self-image for young black girls. Cyrus is a Bessie Award-nominated performer and two-time North Carolina State Arts Council Choreography Fellow. He is also the co-author and editor of Vital Grace: The Black Male Dancer, a photographic essay with images by Joanne Savio and interviews of famous black male dance artists and athletes including Bill T. Jones, Geoffrey Holder, Gregory Hines, and Evander Holyfield.

The performance outcome and all activities for the Resistance Project will be presented in Greensboro, NC during the grant cycle with additional national and international engagements pending. Additional activities include development workshops for women of the African Diaspora that focus on Health and Wellness, Financial security, Scholarship, and Entrepreneurship. Throughout the creation process, public forums and open rehearsals will help to keep the local community engaged in the process and meaning of the work.

Project Media

…a fragile monolith (2019)
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This is an example of 2nd collabo w Jonboyondabeat
Work set on college-age dancers
Length: 15 minutes 55 seconds

“…a fragile monolith” is a collaborative movement investigation by North Carolina State Arts Council Choreography Fellow, Duane Cyrus. It uses lyricism, speed, and dynamic energies to question perceptions of power in monolithic societal paradigms or constructs– Cyrus collaborated with music composer Jonboyondabeat and Cyrus’ creative process called Theatre of Movement was used to develop the choreography.

Hero Complexities (Excerpt–“Rescue”) (2017)
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Features: Duane Cyrus

Example of my work on my company Theatre of Movement
Length: 5 min
Choreography: Duane Cyrus
Music: DJ Zinhle
Dancers: Melvin Sutton, DeVontee Tanner, Devonte Wells
“Rescue” was created as part of the Hero Complexities project. I designed a fusion of Afro-Caribbean and contemporary movement on the dancers as we meditated on the strength of US Coastguardsman Charles W. David, who died saving 93 men during WWII. We chart the challenges he must have faced as a black man serving in the white hegemony of the World War II era military.

Start and End Dates



Greensboro, North Carolina

Project Created By

Greensboro, North Carolina
Duane Cyrus is a performing and creative artist whose work is focused on the confluence of questions and ideas that come from positioning moving bodies in conceptual environments. His work is informed by research into Black American and Caribbean history and culture. As a performer, Cyrus has worked in a range of genres and styles…

In Collaboration With

Portsmouth, Virginia


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