Twin Cities performers and choreographers Aparna Ramaswamy (pictured right, photo by Ed Bock) and Kyle Abraham will team with composer Colin Jacobsen for a new work that will premiere in fall 2017 at Walker Art Center, it was announced Monday.
Ramaswamy is one of the leading exponents of bharatanatyam dance and is one of the pillars of Ragamala Dance Company, founded by her mother, Ranee, and featuring her sister, Ashwini. The Joyce Award, which carries a $50,000 purse, will allow Ramaswamy to explore hybridity in the new commission.
St. Paul’s Penumbra Theatre also has won a Joyce Award to commission musician and composer Imani Uzuri and playwright and lyricist Zakiyyah Alexander to stage “GIRL Shakes Loose Her Skin” in spring 2017. The musical is anchored in the poetry of Sonia Sanchez, a pillar of the Black Arts Movement.
The Joyce Awards is given to outstanding artists of color to create new works with the backing of local institutions. Other winners in this round are venerable Detroit artist Charles McGee, who is creating a steel sculpture entitled “United We Stand,” and who is backed by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and Chicago visual artist Juan Angel Chávez, who is creating a large-scale installation at the Chicago Children's Museum.
“The Joyce Awards highlight the incredible creative capital happening in the Midwest at this historic moment,” said Angelique Williams-Power, program director for culture at the Joyce. “The collaboration between artists, organizations and community are igniting with new ideas that are reflective of this moment.”
Williams-Power added that at both Penumbra, founded by Lou Bellamy who is phasing out as co-artistic director Sarah Bellamy takes the reins fully, and Ragamala, founded by Ranee Ramaswamy, have “this transference of wisdom and legacy” between parent-founders and their children who are taking the work to the next level.
“It’s exciting, not just for these artists and institutions, but for us as they capture this significant historical moment,” she said.