Artists Reach Out: Beaudau Banks - Gibney
Week of July 7, 2020
Making space for

Artists Reach Out: Beaudau Banks

Black man looking at the camera as he stands in the park.

ARTISTS REACH OUT: REFLECTIONS IN A TIME OF ISOLATION

Senior Curatorial Director Eva Yaa Asantewaa dreamed this series of interviews, Artists Reach Out: reflections in a time of isolation, out of grief for her work both as a documenting arts writer and curator of live performance.

“In this time of social distancing, we are called to responsibly do all we can to safeguard ourselves and our neighbors. It is, literally, a matter of life and death.

But there’s no distancing around what we still can share with one another—our experiences, thoughts, wisdom, humor, hearts and spirit. In some ways, there are more opportunities to do so as we pull back from everyday busyness out in the world and have time to honor the call of our inner lives.

So, let me introduce you to some artists I find interesting. I’m glad they’re part of our beautiful community, and I’m eager to engage with them again (or for the first time) in years to come.” – Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Senior Curatorial Director

This interview features Beaudau (Bo-day) Karel Banks, artist and Gibney’s Producing Assistant.


Born and raised in Belize, Central America, Beaudau (Bo-day) Karel Banks is a New York-based artist who started formal dance training at the age of thirteen, studying ballet and modern dance. They were accepted and graduated with a BFA in Fine Arts from the University of South Florida BFA program in Tampa, Florida. They are now living in New York City, freelancing with various artists and projects while creating their own work and artistic practice. They recently premiered a new work at Center for Performance Research’s Performance Space Open House entitled Te Quiero (December 2019).

They also show interest in technical theater and have worked as a stage manager and stage hand for several dance, theater and musical shows. They are currently the Producing Assistant and a part of the Production team at Gibney. They are interested in finding the perfect balance between both worlds of Artist and Technician.

Photo of a person of color covering lace over their face.
Photo by Maximo Oliviera.

Do you have a current or planned project whose progress is affected by the pandemic?

Several. This year, I chose to invest more into my artistic practices, more than I have in past years. I am or was working with several artist on projects for the year: Dispossessed, a collaborative opera spearheaded by Nicole Gladstone; a work in progress with Gual+Moves; Deep Blue Sea with the Bill T. Jones Company at the Park Avenue Armory, and some personal projects as well. These are just to name a few.

Briefly, tell me about how you got involved in the arts and in your particular practice.

I have always been very interested in the arts for as long as I can remember. As a child back home in Belize–where I was born and raised–I found myself enrolled in artistic ventures. I started dancing our cultural dances, carnival, festivals for school and then church. That’s when the local dance school found me.

I attended USF where I received my BFA in Dance. College is where I started to cultivate and find my voice in both the Dance and Production world. We were required to be a part of the stage crew for a class, and I fell in love with it. I enjoy seeing the way something is created when an artist and the sound/lighting designer collaborates.

In a more specific way, what are you practicing? And what are you envisioning?

In my own practice, I am both of those things at once. I created work already incorporating sound and light design. There are times when this makes it even more difficult to create work, but it is a challenge I never back down from. Currently, I have been working on Solo improvisational HotBox sessions. In these sessions, I bathe the room in light. I choose a color that best represents how I am feeling in the moment. I turn the music on, then I let what needs to happen happen. Sometimes there’s dance, other times there’s silence, stillness, screams and most often with all of the other ones, there are tears. Lots and lots of tears.

I would love to do this with other artists/designers, so it becomes sort of a live/interactive light-sound-dance experience. It is raw, honest, vulnerable.

Person of color jumping in the air in front of a red brick wall.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

How does your practice and your visioning align with what you most care about? How does your practice function within the world we have now?

Mental health is something that is really important to me. My HotBox sessions came from my own mental health journey and the need to heal myself. As a dance artist, primarily, I find that I am not great with words and can express what I want to say and how I feel better in movement. So why not lock myself in a room and try to say and identify how I feel with movement where I couldn’t do that with words? I found that after my sessions I felt calmer, more centered, I could breathe again. I want that peace for everyone.

There is so much hurt in the world right now. It’s a really scary place right now for me. I find myself and other people becoming more and more isolated within isolation. That worries me about how we will be after we come out on the other side of this. I, for one, will have more HotBox sessions. I would love to create spaces for people to come in and work through what they are feeling.

Dance is a freaking powerful thing. Whether it is doing it, seeing it, designing for it. It demands a visceral reaction from just about anyone who comes in contact with it. We need to get in touch with that part of our humanity again. It might save us all.

Briefly share one self-care tip that has special meaning to you now.

Think of a song/songs/sounds that really make you feel centered and calm. Use headphones. Close your eyes. Concentrate on the sounds of the song. Not so much the words. Listen to the instruments. Place yourself in a bubble, away from everything in the world around you. Breathe and let yourself relax.

 

To read all of Eva Yaa Asantewaa’s Artists Reach Out interviews, visit infinitebody.blogspot.com.

 

Top photo by Alex Cavaliere.