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 Christine C. Wyatt, dance artist, performer, and Gibney 6.0 Work Up Artist.
Christine C. Wyatt is a dance artist/performer and facilitator of movement experiences; born and raised in Baltimore, MD. After a multitude of experiences in 13 years of performance and training in music, theater, and dance, Christine received a B.F.A. in Dance & Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University in May of 2018. Experiences, either training or performance, with artists like Mari Andrea Travis, Liz Lerman/Dance Exchange, Jawole Jo Zollar/Urban Bush Women, MK Abadoo, Maria Bauman, Dr. Gaynell Sherrod and Alicia Diaz/Agua Dulce Dance Theatre have influenced her movement practice and perspective of art as resistance. Africanist movement values and a passion for anti-racist, community based work keep her interest in the field alive. Christine sees movement as a means of liberation for the body and spirit and seeks to do so with her art and career in dance.
Photo of Christine C. Wyatt by Scott Shaw.
Do you have a current or planned project whose progress is affected by the pandemic?
Yes. Before folks started to take precautions due to the pandemic, I performed a piece called Ti’ed (the solo) at Gibney. The plan was to tour the piece to Baltimore, MD and Richmond, VA (and maybe DC), however I had to change my ideas about what I wanted to do next with the piece. I was looking forward to expanding it again into a piece with several solos, maybe in a gallery type space. I’m just dreaming about it now.
In mid-march, I was also going to perform MK Abadoo’s work LOCS at a conference. It was cancelled before we were even able to rehearse. I’ve performed two of MK’s pieces, so I was sad I wasn’t able to add it to my repertoire of MK works.
Briefly, tell me about how you got involved in the arts and in your particular practice.
I started “formal” training in dance at the age of 9 at Flair Dance Studio in Baltimore, MD. I continued to train (in ballet, modern, jazz, etc.) during middle and high school, then obtained my BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. My post-grad practice is mostly influenced by commemorative justice, Afro-futuristic, post-contemporary-Black, community based/site specific art and my experiences with Urban Bush Women and the Summer Leadership Institute.
More importantly, my family loves art. We dance and sing at every family function, and frequent the theater. I’ve been seeing live performances since I was a small human. So being involved in the arts has everything to do with that.
In a more specific way, what are you practicing? And what are you envisioning?
This question is difficult to answer, Week 4 into staying home/physical distancing. I am currently practicing being honest with myself, deep listening, “play”, resting, and eating well. I was focused on those things when my life was more movement-centric. So I’m trying to hold on to those principles.
Professionally, I am in a practice of figuring out what I should and shouldn’t be practicing. I’m curious about what a “liberated improvisational practice (informed by blackness) and truth telling” looks like. I’m practicing making and doing from a place of inspiration/levity/authenticity rather than production or exploitation.
I enjoy envisioning more humanized ways of working and existing in the world.
How does your practice and your visioning align with what you most care about?
My practice and visioning align with my social justice/anti-racist informed ways of being and organizing.
I care most about the freedom of BIPOC, their bodies, their minds, and spirits in life and in dance.
I most care about ease.
I would say I’m a part of Pearl Primus’ (philosophical) lineage, her quote—“I dance not to entertain but to help people better understand each other. Because through dance I have experienced the wordless joy of freedom. I seek it more fully now for my people and for all people everywhere”—feels like the essence of what I have always been inherently interested in.
Photo by Scott Shaw.
How does your practice function within the world we have now?
I am still figuring it out.
It feels like the same shit, different challenges; minus most of the movement I was required to do on a weekly basis. Living out the principles that encourage ease is an important part of my life and artistic practice. I think it is more important now than before to actually rest, to minimize wasteful habits, to not accept exploitive offers, etc.
So right now, I’m just prioritizing myself. Sleeping as much as possible, drinking lots of water, connecting with and supporting black womxn, and moving because I need to and want to and feel inspired to. Not because I need to make money or because I’m “supposed to be,” or that’s what people want to see, or whatever.
It is a privilege to do that intentionally, but also what freedom feels like for me.
Briefly share one self-care tip that has special meaning to you now.
I have a self care and safety tip:
I give myself a light beat at the top of the day.
Makeup setting spray (before and after makeup application)
Concealer (for under eye)
Tinted pressed powder (for the rest of my face)
Doing a small makeup routine has been helpful in encouraging daily skin care and!! has minimized how much I touch my face, especially if I go outside or to a store. When I return home, I typically wash it all off (after washing my hands, of course) to ensure safety. It’s also quite refreshing.
To read all of Eva Yaa Asantewaa’s Artists Reach Out interviews, visit infinitebody.blogspot.com.
Top Photo by Brandon Lane.