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Incorporating film and an original score, Christopher Rudd‘s “Witness” takes the audience on a journey through time depicting the mistreatment of Blacks and the journey towards equality. “Witness” serves as a call to action and a mechanism to open a dialogue on the challenging issue of race in America. The goal is to depict the plight of a People, promote African-American empowerment, and provide hope for the future. To this end, three African-American collaborators, whose diverse perspectives and artistic voices strengthen the work:
- Film director Ty Hodges, an award winning emergent voice in the film industry;
- Composer Tariq Al-Sabir, an award winning, esteemed alumnus of Peabody;
- Visual effects supervisor Everton Rudd, MA, a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) who is a Look Development freelancer in the Savannah film industry.
Utilizing testimonials sampled from newscasts, and recordings from a town hall forum incorporated into the musical score, “Witness” explores the questions “How did we get here?” and “Where do we go from here?”. The choreography, text, and projections interact to explore how past atrocities shape our present time. While each thirty-minute section is designed to stand alone, the continuity of its props — iron collars, chains, fetters, and handcuffs — and how the dancers relate to them make “Witness” a complete work:
- Part I: “Yesterday” mixes contemporary ballet, traditional African dance, and aerial bungee. Wearing iron collars, chains, fetters, and handcuffs, the dancers portray the devastating, dehumanization of slavery in America. The sounds of the chains are integrated with traditional African lamentations and gospel music. The scene ends with the dancers breaking free of their chains, and hanging them from the rafters where they remain visible to the audience throughout the show.
- Part II: “Today” uses state-of-art technology to bring our attention to present day America. News broadcasts will be engineered sporadically into the music. The dancers’ intricate choreography, using a mix of contemporary and urban dance, intermittently reveals textiles on which interactive films will be projected. As the chains hang above like dark clouds, this section explores the current racial climate and tackles the disparity in the American criminal justice system.
- Part III: “Tomorrow” is designed to provide hope and ideas for a more just and equitable future. With the help of Hostos Community College, we will hold and record a town-hall asking the question “Now What?” The recording will be integrated into the score with the choreography, expressing the sentiment of the speaker’s voice and uncensored words as the chains sporadically fall from the rafters around the dancers.
In partnership with the CUNY Dance Initiative, “Witness” will have five Question-and-Answer showings for the 7,000 students of Hostos Community College and two public presentations in the Bronx at Hostos Center for Arts & Culture during the second week of May 2018. Following these confirmed presentations, the Company will introduce and market “Witness” to other venues, presenters, festivals, and colleges – both nationally and abroad.
Support provided will go directly towards the costs associated with the development and presentations of “Witness”.
This is an example of Mr. Rudd combining different genres of dance to create a unique way of storytelling. It is an aerial silk contemporary ballet fusion that depicts the final moments of a woman losing her battle to cancer. The dance creates a juxtaposition as she never touches the ground while she departs this realm and her grief-stricken partner is grounded. It was created thanks, in part, to the GO! Emerging Artist Commissioning Program at STREB Lab for Action Mechanics where Christopher Rudd was chosen as one of 2015’s Emerging Artists.
This work is an erotically charged exploration of a relationship that premiered on November 3, 2017 at the Dance Gallery Festival. The work depicts different moments of being an individual while attempting to become one with another.
Title: A Night in the Life of Us
Choreographer: Christopher Rudd
Music: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Mama’s Room & Song For Bob
Rehearsal Director: Silvia Vrskova
Costumes: Christopher Rudd
Dancers: Juan David Camargo & Constance Sousek
Start and End Dates
05/07/2018 — 02/16/2020
Bronx, New York