COMMUNION


Sidra Bell is the founder of Sidra Bell Dance New York and a dancer, choreographer, and educator who is currently a Master Lecturer at the University of the Arts, an Adjunct Professor LINES Ballet/Dominican University and an Adjunct Professor at Ball State University.

Artist Bio

Immanuel Wilkins is a saxophonist, composer, aArranger, and bandleader from the greater Philadelphia area. He has two albums out on Blue Note Records—Omega and his most recent release, The 7th Hand.

Artist Bio

Sidra Bell Dance New York and acclaimed saxophonist, composer, and arranger Immanuel Wilkins premiered COMMUNION in May, 2024. Bell is the inaugural artist in residence at Gibney and the work was supported by expanded residency time at the center. The result is a pure dance display of the joy and ecstatic spontaneity created through improvisational modalities that Wilkins’ contemplative and rich composition evokes. COMMUNION was born out of research prompted by Bell’s personal navigation of disconnection, loneliness, and faithfulness. With a poetic structure that is based in imagery, emotional structures, semiotics, body design and sensation, the work examines the current trajectory of despair, alienation, and dystopia that permeates the way that we connect with our bodies through society’s apparati. How does humanity intersect and transform through struggle? We ask the viewer to see and feel through frames, ruptures, personal empires, forgiving structures, wandering pathways and fragments. Things fall apart. This piece focuses on the ascendancy of community (muscle), compromise, effortfulness, support, simplicity, and love. This elegiac experience is a series of impressions, human huddles, rearrangements, and hybrid forms of movement set against a wild mixture of textures, design, and sound. The work features lighting by resident designer Amith Chandrashaker, set design by architect Cass Calder Smith, costumes by Caitlin Taylor, and sound design by Michael Roche. Sidra Bell Dance New York’s eight member company performs with live music by Immanuel Wilkins Quartet.

Sidra Bell and Immanuel Wilkins’s COMMUNION premiered May 16–18, 2024 at Gibney: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, New York City.


Award Year
2023
Status

Completed


Creative Capital Carnival 2023

Photo by Umi Akiyoshi Photography.

Sidra Bell

White Plains, NY

Sidra Bell is the founder of Sidra Bell Dance New York and a dancer, choreographer, and educator who is currently a Master Lecturer at the University of the Arts, an Adjunct Professor LINES Ballet/Dominican University and an Adjunct Professor at Ball State University. She has been an artist in residence at University of Oklahoma (Brackett Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair), Harvard University, and an Adjunct Professor at Georgian Court University, Marymount Manhattan College and Barnard College. Bell received a BA in History from Yale and an MFA in Choreography from Purchase College. She is the founder and creative director of the award winning MODULE Laboratory, an immersive platform for movement and theater artists. Bell has won several awards, notably a First Prize for Choreography at the Solo Tanz Theater Festival in Stuttgart, Germany and a National Dance Project Production Award from the NEFA. In 2017 Mayor Thomas Roach named February 3 “Sidra Bell Day” in White Plains, NY. Her work has been seen throughout the United States and in Denmark, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Slovenia, Sweden, Germany, China, Canada, Aruba, Korea, Brazil, and Greece. Bell has created over 100 works notably for Nevada Ballet Theater, BODYTRAFFIC, Ailey II, The Juilliard School, Whim W’Him, Boston Conservatory, River North Dance Chicago, NYU Tisch, Sacramento Ballet, Boulder Ballet, Ballet Austin, Boulder Ballet and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet School, among many others. She was the first Black female choreographer commissioned to create work for New York City Ballet where she created two works for film and the Lincoln Center stage (Fall Fashion Gala 2021 and Innovators & Icons Program). She was nominated for a 2022 Bessie NY Dance & Performance Dance.

Photo by Umi Akiyoshi Photography.



Collaborator

Immanuel Wilkins is a saxophonist, composer, aArranger, and bandleader from the greater Philadelphia area. He has two albums out on Blue Note Records—Omega and his most recent release, The 7th Hand.

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Immanuel Wilkins

New York, NY

Immanuel Wilkins is a saxophonist, composer, arranger, and bandleader from the greater Philadelphia area. Moving to New York in 2015, Wilkins earned his bachelor’s degree in music at the Juilliard School, studying with the saxophonists Bruce Williams and the late Joe Temperley while simultaneously establishing himself as an in-demand sideman working and/or recording with artists like Jason Moran, Kenny Barron, Bill Frisell, Joel Ross, Aaron Parks, Gerald Clayton, Wynton Marsalis, and Solange Knowles, to name just a few. It was also during this same period that he formed his quartet featuring his long-time bandmates: Micah Thomas (piano), Daryl Johns (bass), and Kweku Sumbry (drums).

Being a bandleader and having a working group for over four years has allowed Wilkins to grow both as a composer and arranger—and has led to him receiving a number of commissions including, most recently, from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and the Jazz Gallery Artist Residency Commission program. He was also the Kimmel Cultural Campus Center artist-in-residence for 2020. He has collaborated with visual artists Cauleen Smith, Kennedy Yanko, Rog Walker, David Dempewolf, and Leslie Hewitt. In addition to teaching at NYU and the New School, Wilkins has taught and given master classes and clinics at schools/venues like Oberlin College, Yale University, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Ultimately, Wilkins’s mission is to create a sound that has a profound spiritual and emotional impact that will allow him to become a great leader in the long lineage of jazz musicians. Through studying the human pathos of the music and the culture of jazz, Wilkins aspires to bring people together through the commonality of love and belief in this music. He has two albums out on Blue Note Records—Omega and his most recent release, The 7th Hand.



Collaborator

Sidra Bell is the founder of Sidra Bell Dance New York and a dancer, choreographer, and educator who is currently a Master Lecturer at the University of the Arts, an Adjunct Professor LINES Ballet/Dominican University and an Adjunct Professor at Ball State University.