“The only way to make the world a better place, is to be better people in it,” shared prolific dance choreographer, industry expert, and author Theresa Ruth Howard. The Artist-Activist: Centering Black Voices is pleased to host Howard along with anti-racist theater advocate Nicole Brewer for a digital conversation focused on being change agents for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within their respective fields of dance and theater.
Both accomplished artists have careers centered around the idea of Black bodies in traditionally White spaces. This conversation aims to explore how leaders and artists can create not just representative spaces, but ones that actively welcome Black, Indigenous and people of color artists beyond just filling a diversity quota. Howard and Brewer will share insights from working with various organizations and discuss what it means to be aniti-racist educators, artists, and facilitators, especially in traditionally white-dominated fields. The conversation will be moderated by Director of Mason’s Green Machine EnsemblesMichael Nickens (Doc Nix), and will conclude with live questions from the participating audience.
The Artist-Activist: Centering Black Voices features nationally renowned artists speaking about the essential intersection between the creative sector and social justice movements. Using their artistic practice as a jumping off point, these speakers seek to ignite meaningful dialogue within our community, inspiring actionable tools for change. Curated by a panel of anti-racist Mason educators, the conversations are to be free and open to the public. Additional speakers will be announced at a later date.
This conversation will be streamed simultaneously on this webpage, Facebook and YouTube at the scheduled time. It will be available until January 14, 2021.
Registration for the event is not required, but if you RSVP HERE you will be sent a reminder with details for how to watch prior to the event.
To enable automated closed captioning for the Facebook video, please navigate to the bottom right of the video pane and click the “CC” button.
Nicole Brewer is a passionate advocate for anti-racist theater. She has spent the last seven years refining and practicing an inclusive method of theater training and practices, which she calls Conscientious Theatre Training (CTT). She has authored four articles about the need for the theatre industry to shift from racist and oppressive models to anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Why Equity Diversity and Inclusion Are Obsolete was reported by American Theatre Magazine as one of their top 10 most read stories of 2019. Brewer has been invited across the U.S. to teach and speak about CTT and facilitate anti-racist theatre (ART) workshops. Brewer is a board member of Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) where she works to shift how the industry can become more proactive to the needs of caregivers. She is one of the four producers of the COVID-19 freelance artist resource website. The producing collective also partnered with HowlRound to produce six weekly webinars that centered the needs of freelance artists impacted by the pandemic. Brewer is on faculty in the acting department at the Yale School of Drama. She has held faculty positions with the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, the National Theater Institute (NTI), the theatre department of Howard University and has worked at Northern Virginia Community College and Montgomery College teaching acting and introduction to communications courses. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Acting from Northern Illinois University and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Howard University, and has worked professionally as an actor, director, and educator.
Theresa Ruth Howard began her professional career at the age of 12 with the Philadelphia Civic Ballet Company. She was a member of the Dance Theater of Harlem, a founding member of Armitage Gone! Dance, and has been a guest artist with Complex-ions Contemporary Ballet. As a dance educator Howard was a member of the Ballet Faculty at the Ailey School for more than 20 years, and has taught and choreographed internationally. Howard has written for The Source, Pointe, Expressions (Italy), and Tanz (Germany) Magazines, and is a contributing writer for Dance Magazine. Her articles on body image lead her to create the My Body My Image blog, which offers tools to create a healthier sense of self. In 2015, Howard founded Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet a digital platform that preserves, presents, and promote the Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet. In 2019 she was invited to be a Jacob’s Pillow Scholar in Residence. She is a respected advocate and leader in the conversations surrounding diversity and culture in Ballet and the arts. For the past four years she has been member of the design team for the Dutch National Ballet’s (DNB) the bi-annual conference Position Ballet—a convening of more than 40 European and international companies to discuss issues including: heritage, identity, diversity, and the culture of ballet. She is a member of the Design and Facilitation Team of The Equity Project: Increasing the presence of Blacks in Ballet a three-year initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which has assembled a cohort of 21 North American Ballet companies into a learning community to address the issue of the lack of diversity in the field.
The Artist-Activist: Centering Black Voices is produced by the College of Visual and Performing Arts, as a part of the Arts in Context series.
Images from top: Nicole Brewer and Ruth Howard
Support for this series is provided in part by the City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts.