Black Diaspora: Black Curators in Dance and Performance

Feb. 11, 12:00 pm EST



Black Diaspora events are open to a Black- or Afro-Latinx-identified audience only.

Empty Chairs, Empty Tables: Waking the Absence with Pathways to Grief & Grieving

“When the dream was slaughtered and all that love and labor seemed to have come to nothing, we scattered….. We knew where we had been what we had tried to do, who had cracked, gone mad, died, or been murdered around us… Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.” – James Baldwin, Just Above My Head

Inquiry: As descendants of the diaspora, what is our role & responsibility to guide consumers of performance through periods of deep loss?

The Black Diaspora team looks forward to its first collaboration with The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland as part of the 2023 BlackLight Summit, led by producer and curator Tariq Darrell O’Meally. These co-presentations include a keynote address by dance artist and educator MK Abadoo; a panel discussion; and a Black Diaspora conversation between up-and-coming curators O’Meally and Kemba Barnes of Black Curators in Dancer and Performance, moderated by BCDP founder Eva Yaa Asantewaa.


For more information about BlackLight Summit 2023:

About Tariq Darrell O’Meally

Tariq Darrell O’Meally is an artist, producer, curator, and community organizer searching for the power within introspection and vulnerability in the African American body. He has pursued the re-imagining of kinesthetic narratives as a means to resist and disrupt canonized stories that have perpetuated the dehumanization of marginalized groups, specifically black people. He seeks to synthesize those stories that will resonate in a way that is socially relevant, empathetic, and impactful.

In his position as an Artistic Planning Coordinator on Dance, Theater, and Artist Residencies at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Tariq Darrell O’Meally serves as a steward of the Visiting Artist Series artistic vision and helps shape the strategic program in collaboration with curatorial colleagues, staff, faculty, and students.

O’Meally is the creator, curator, and lead producer of the BlackLight Summit. Blacklight is a convening that re-envisions dance performance as a conduit to galvanize the social imaginations, resilience, and inventiveness of citizens, thinkers, activists, and artists. In addition to his duties as a curator, Tariq is a working artist in the DMV. Currently, his work focuses on being a contemporary dance artist striving to transition into a post-contemporary context. That is to say that if contemporary work interacts with the fierce urgency of now; then post-contemporary exploration integrates what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen, intersecting these concepts with the vulnerability and necessity of being human.

As a choreographer, O’Meally has presented his work at the John F. Kennedy Center, the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival and Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building, By The People Festival, The Clarice Smith 34th & 35th Annual Choreographer’s Showcase, Mid-Atlantic North Gala at the American College Dance Association, and Richmond Dance Festival. He is the Artistic Director of Tariq Darrell+the UNUM Dance Collective, a DMV-based collection of dance artists seeking to create doorways and windows leading to the seen and unseen; lived and living experiences of African Americans.

As an educator, O’Meally has been on faculty at Hollins University, the CityDance School & Conservatory Dance Institute of Washington in addition to presenting as a guest lecturer at Coppin State University, Morgan State University, the National Gallery of Art, The Hirshhorn Museum, and the French Embassy. O’Meally is the Founder/Director of the Dimensions Contemporary Dance Festival, a platform to promote, amplify, and spread the various eclectic voices of DMV contemporary dance artists of color. O’Meally has been chosen as a 2022 NDP Advisor, 2021 Rubys Artist Grantee, 2020-2022 Artist-In-Residence at Dance Place, and 2020 Site See Artists-in-Residence. In 2019 & 2021, O’Meally was an Art Omi Resident Artist and a 2018-2019 Halcyon Arts Lab Fellow. He also was a 2018-19 Joe’s Movement Emporium NextLOOK Artist and Dance Place’s 2017-18 New Releases Commissioned Artist. He currently holds a BFA in Dance & Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University.

About Kemba Barnes

Kemba Barnes is an aspiring dance curator and a member of Black Curators in Dance and Performance. She received her early training in dance under the tutelage of the late Fabian Barnes at the Dance Institute of Washington, and the late, great Arthur Mitchell in his Dance Theatre of Harlem Washington D.C. Residency Program, and at the Suitland High School Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. Ms. Barnes continued her training at the State University of New York, Purchase College, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance, concentration in composition, and a minor in Arts Management, in 2017. At Purchase College, she performed works by renowned choreographers Kimberly Bartosik (winner, Bessie Award) and Christopher Huggins (Alvin Ailey Dance Company) and choreographed several works of her own, including her signature piece Soraya (Gem).

Upon graduation, Ms. Barnes performed at the Cincinnati, Ohio Arnoff Center, with the Vincent Thomas Dance Company in What’s Goin’ On, an adaptation of Marvin Gaye’s classic album of the same name. Ms. Barnes is currently a member of the Kotchegna Dance Company (KDC) based in New York City, which features Cote d’Ivoire West African traditional dances.  She traveled with KDC to the Ivory Coast in 2018 for the first Ivorian American Drummers and Dance Festival. Ms. Barnes has worked with American filmmaker Spike Lee and appears as a background extra in his movie BlacKkKlansman and in his upcoming Netflix Series, She’s Gotta Have It – Season 2. In 2020, Ms. Barnes earned her independent study certification from the Ailey School and was awarded a scholarship to continue her dance studies. Ms. Barnes resides in Prince George’s County MD. She currently works for the advanced team of Vice President Kamala Harris and teaches ballet at Artistic Dance Xpressions studio in Fort Washington, MD.

About Black Diaspora

Conceived by curator Eva Yaa Asantewaa during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter uprising, Black Diaspora launched its first activities in September 2020 as a Zoom-based peer support program serving up-and-coming, Black-identified dance and performance artists from various cultural backgrounds and aesthetic traditions.

With the support of Gibney, Black Diaspora has offered numerous peer group discussions, workshops led by notable guest artists, and conversations between artists. We celebrate the resourcefulness, accomplishments, and generous wisdom of Black creatives, educators, and activists.

Photo Courtesy of the artist.