GIBNEY NAMES EVA YAA ASANTEWAA CURATORIAL DIRECTOR NEWLY CREATED POSITION EXPANDS GIBNEY’S PRESENTING AND PUBLIC PERFORMANCE MODEL
Leading performing arts and social justice nonprofit organization Gibney has appointed longtime arts commentator, esteemed curator and NYC cultural leader Eva Yaa Asantewaa to the newly created position of Curatorial Director. In this role, Yaa Asantewaa will lead all public performance, residency and discourse programs at Gibney, with a focus on putting forth an expanded public performance plan that builds on Gibney’s existing momentum as a presenter and deploys new resources in response to the ever-shifting needs of artists and audiences.
With the recent completion and opening of 10,000 square feet of brand new space at Gibney 280 Broadway, Gibney is now the steward of 53,000 square feet of space comprising 23 studios and 5 performance spaces, including a production residency space. Working with Artistic Director and CEO Gina Gibney, Yaa Asantewaa is tasked with leveraging these substantial resources in ways that continue to present important and new voices as well as democratize the curatorial process and reflect power back into the performing arts and social justice communities. To that end, Yaa Asantewaa will expand Gibney’s presenting and public performance model to focus on four distinct areas designed to both sharpen Gibney’s curatorial focus and broaden its impact: Signature Series, Collaborative Curation, Presenting Partnerships and Performance Opportunity Project (POP). See below for details on each.
“Art is an urgent force that transforms individual lives, preserves and expresses the core values of communities, and speaks truth to power,” Yaa Asantewaa says. “Dance has been the center of my professional life for over four decades. Now, I take great joy and honor in joining the Gibney network—dedicated students, educators, choreographers, performers, designers, tech experts, advocates and activists with a proven record of making a difference in dance and in our society. I look forward to listening deeply and tapping into the intelligence, wisdom and caring of this vital network.”
“Eva brings to this role such tremendous knowledge of and dedication to the dance field, and a deep interest in raising the voices of NYC dance artists,” says Artistic Director and CEO Gina Gibney.“We at Gibney are thrilled to join forces with her to build this new model for public performance.”
Gibney’s signature series include Making Space, DoublePlus and Work Up, and focus on presenting and commissioning work by NYC-based artists at various levels of their careers. With these programs Yaa Asantewaa will commission and nurture the development of new works by important artistic voices, both new and established.
With Collaborative Curation, Yaa Asantewaa will seek to democratize the gatekeeper role and selection processes by being responsive to and sharing power with the communities Gibney serves. This involves exploring models for “artist as curator” and mining the rich relationships between all of Gibney’s fields of action, expanding on existing programs such as Gibney Dance Company-curated evenings, Cracks of Light (focused on survivors of domestic violence) and the recently piloted guest curator series.
With five designated performance spaces ready to serve the performing arts community, Yaa Asantewaa will cultivate co-presenting partnerships with colleagues and presenting organizations from across the city and beyond.
Performance Opportunity Project (POP)
Under Yaa Asantewaa’s purview, the existing POP platform will increase its service to the performing arts community, allowing even more artists to self-produce through a top-tier, fully supported and subsidized format that includes marketing and technical assistance.
In addition, Yaa Asantewaa will apply her singular vision and strong curatorial point of view to Gibney’s residency initiatives and selection processes, including Dance in Process (DiP) and Making Space+.
ABOUT EVA YAA ASANTEWAA
Eva Yaa Asantewaa (2017 Bessie Award winner for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance) is a writer, curator and community educator. Since 1976, she has contributed journalism on dance to Dance Magazine, The Village Voice, SoHo Weekly News, Gay City News, Time Out New York, The Dance Enthusiast and other publications and podcasts. She has blogged on the arts, with dance as a specialty, for InfiniteBody, which she launched in 2007.
As a member of the curatorial team for Danspace Project’s Platform 2016: Lost and Found, Ms. Yaa Asantewaa created the skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds, an evening of group improvisation featuring 21 Black women and gender-nonconforming performers. Her cast was awarded a 2017 Bessie for Outstanding Performer. Her most recent curatorial project was Q(here)magiQue, an evening of improvisation for La MaMa’s Squirts, an annual festival of queer performance. She has partnered with organizations such as Gibney, Abrons Arts Center, Dance/NYC, BAX and Dancing While Black to curate and facilitate Long Table conversations on topics of concern in the dance/performance community.
Ms. Yaa Asantewaa was a member of the inaugural faculty of Montclair State University’s MFA in Dance Program and served on the faculty for New England Foundation for the Arts’ Regional Dance Development Initiative Dance Lab 2016 for emerging Chicago-area dance artists. She also served on the faculty for the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography’s inaugural Forward Dialogues Dance Lab for Emerging Choreographers in spring 2017. Ms. Yaa Asantewaa was a member of the New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards committee and has been a consultant or panelist for numerous arts funding or awards organizations including the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Her background also includes arts and LGBTQ activism through alternative media and educational service to over sixty health and social service, spiritual, feminist, people of color, and LGBTQ organizations in the New York metropolitan area.
She is a proud native New Yorker of Black Caribbean immigrant heritage.
Gibney, founded in 1991, is a trailblazing organization that brings the possibility of movement where it otherwise would not exist. Through its Centers, Company and Community Action, Gibney is “Making Space for Dance” in studios, on stages and in partnership with underserved shelters and schools.
Gibney Centers are a powerhouse of cultural support for the performing arts community and New York City itself. In 1991, Gibney began leasing a studio in the historic 890 Broadway building to house Company rehearsals, and by 2011 the organization’s presence at that location had expanded to comprise an expansive eight-studio creative center. Today, the organization directs a performing arts complex with two facilities at 890 Broadway and 280 Broadway. These remarkable spaces enable a robust roster of events designed to meet the needs of the field and audiences by fostering the creative process, encouraging dialogue and providing professional development opportunities.
Gibney Dance Company is the Center’s acclaimed resident dance ensemble, led by choreographer Gina Gibney. Since its founding in 1991, the Company has steadily developed its reputation for excellence, building a repertory of over thirty works. Gibney re-envisioned the Company in 2016, empowering its dancers as both artists and activists. Known as Artistic Associates, these dedicated partners advance the quality of the organization’s artistry through performance, and deepen its community engagement through administrative fellowships, serving as advocates for pressing issues in the dance field.
Gibney Community Action is on the leading edge of mobilizing the arts to address social justice issues. This highly respected program uses dance to help heal and empower survivors of violence through multiple platforms, including Movement Workshops for domestic violence survivors; Global Community Action Residencies that share the program’s model and practices internationally; the Community Action Hub at 280 Broadway and its resources for social change-minded artists; and Advocacy Initiatives that spread awareness and mobilize artists to respond to social issues.
Copyright Gibney, Photo by Scott Shaw