Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-09-19
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

DANCIN' FEATS J'Sun Howard: Learning to excavate joy
by Joanna Furnans
2017-05-17

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


J'Sun Howard did not grow up dancing—or he did, but not in a traditional dance studio. Raised in Tennessee, the young, introverted Howard taught himself to dance by feverishly studying the choreography in hip-hop and R&B videos.

Originally thinking he would pursue a college degree in accounting or biochemistry, Howard eventually declared to his mother that he was going to get a degree in dance. It was a last-minute decision to apply to Columbia College in Chicago but, in 2001, he applied and he went.

With no previous formal training, Howard diligently immersed himself in the dance department at Columbia College. He studied the forms, learned to execute the techniques and practiced the improvisational scores, but something was missing. "I don't feel like I was taught to pull out depth or learned how to excavate stuff," Howard said.

The "stuff" he was thinking about as a young dancemaker were serious sociopolitical issues like the aftermath of the recent 9/11 terrorist attacks, homelessness or the realities of being a Black, queer person in the world. Howard was craving guidance on how to express concepts outside of formal methodologies. "Instead of just making a phrase, let's take a risk and try to do something that is totally not traditional … so there are more options and more ideas generated instead of being stuck in a frame," he said. While some students find great freedom and possibility within the confines of classic compositional techniques, Howard used those restrictions as motivation to think outside the pedagogical box and discover his own approach to making dances.

After leaving Columbia, Howard dove into the Chicago dance community and eventually began to hit his choreographic stride. Things especially gelled for him after meeting dancer, choreographer and teacher Darrell Jones. In Jones, Howard found a fellow Black, gay male dancer, using a mixture of contemporary dance techniques along with vogue and hip hop vernaculars for choreographic expression. Working together, Howard was exposed to a new world of creative processes and potential in dance composition.

In 2009, with Jones as a mentor, Howard received a LinkUP residency at Links Hall, a program that supported emerging artists through a six-month creative process, and which cemented Howard's presence as a choreographer to watch in the coming years. He later received the prestigious Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Award in 2014 and, more recently, the Sybil Shearer Residency Fellowship Award at Ragdale and an invitation to participate in the emerging artist laboratory at the nationally renowned Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography ( MANCC ) in Tallahassee, Florida.

The questions he is asking himself now are: "What is 'joy' as a queer Black person?" and "How do I make a space for people to feel joy?" Wishing to provide an opportunity for audiences to immerse themselves in alternative environments or dream worlds, Howard said he hopes to offer a "release from distraction and a release of peace." He added that he wants to excavate expressions of authentic emotional depth from his dancers, hoping to depict performers who are "alive, tingling and bubbling from the inside."

The instinct to uncover and express emotional truths through movement might come naturally to Howard because, in addition to making a name for himself as a choreographer in Chicago, he is a published poet. In fact, the two forms of artistic expression are inextricably connected for this artist. Howard uses writing alongside the choreographic process as a tool to access inner depth and as a way to "make the choreography last offstage."

Because it is often easier to communicate with words than it is with movement, Howard said his ultimate goal is to master the choreographic craft so "the movement can be as communicable as the written word." Nevertheless, he already possesses a natural gift for using poetic language to invoke physical vocabularies. In a recent movement workshop, he gave dancers the following prompt: "Pick a feeling to rid yourself of. Set it on fire. How does it burn?" He has also been considering ways in which his own dancing might potentially "match or surpass the light in a room." One can either be stumped or stimulated by such lyrical prompting; Howard and his dancers are definitely the latter.

Howard's latest work-in-progress, a trio entitled "Working on Better Versions of Prayers," is part of the process and performance residency series "SET FREE" at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave., on Monday, May 22, at 7 p.m. See LinksHall.org .

Howard is developing this piece, which explores a cultivation of charisma, freedom and intimacy between three gay Black men, with fellow dancers Dedrick "Deddy" Gray and Damon Green. An iteration of this work will be performed this fall at Dancespace Project in New York City and the final work will premiere in Chicago in 2018.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

FALL DANCE PREVIEW Flamenco, swans and Sri Lankan devils 2018-09-19 - Can you smell the intermingling of chalky rosin and glistening sweat? That means one thing: It's time to put that tingle back in ...


Gay News

See Chicago Dance gala Sept. 25 2018-09-19 - See Chicago Dance ( SCD )—the dance industry's nonprofit marketing and advocacy organization—will host its fourth annual gala Tuesday, Sept. 25, 6 -10 ...


Gay News

Power ball, gala honors influential duo 2018-09-12 - See Chicago Dance ( SCD ) will celebrate a banner year at its 2018 annual gala. Among other unprecedented changes under the spotlight ...


Gay News

Jamaican trans event Sept. 7 2018-08-29 - The Jamaican Fruit & Flowers Arts Experience will take place Friday, Sept. 7, 7-10 p.m., at 5400 S. Pulaski Rd. The event will ...


Gay News

TV Choreographer-dancer Travis Wall on 'Dance' series, being out 2018-08-28 - It's hard to believe that the Fox show So You Think You Can Dance is about to end its 15th season. Travis Wall ...


Gay News

World Premiere of Hedwig Dances Futura November 1,2, and 3, 2018 2018-08-21 - Hedwig Dances choreographer and artistic director Jan Bartoszek has taken the company's 33 years' plus reputation as an interdisciplinary creative force to new ...


Gay News

Auditorium hosts 27th annual Dance for Life 2018-08-19 - For its 27th annual event, Dance for Life Chicago presented a diverse group of companies and artists performing Aug. 18, at the Auditorium ...


Gay News

Dance for Life continues to celebrate life, honoring those who have passed 2018-08-15 - In the darkest days of the 1980s, Chicago's dance community was gamely pirouetting through a Giselle-mist insufficiently shrouding the HIV/AIDS tragedy, dancers involuntarily ...


Gay News

DANCE Revolutionary steps, dancers point past the binary 2018-07-25 - Chicago is not lacking queer spaces in the arts, and that includes dance and performance art. Now in its ninth season, the ...


Gay News

Joel Hall's new leader Jacqueline Sinclair takes steps to continue the work 2018-07-04 - "I'm house-hunting today!" Jacqueline Sinclair giggled to Windy City Times over the phone. She's not your average house hunter. The newly named Artistic ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.