Vermont Performance Lab Artist Seeks Voices for “Community Shout”, March 16

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Choreographer Reggie Wilson will lead audience members in transformative sing-a-long for new work

Next month, Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) audiences will have a unique opportunity to participate in a Community Shout with African American choreographer Reggie Wilson and two vocal artists, Rhetta Aleong and Lawrence Harding of his Fist and Heel Performance Group. Community Shouts are stimulating sing-a-longs where participants connect to their rhythmic voices and bodies through tales and songs from Africa, the Caribbean and American south. Wilson, along with the vocal artists Aleong and Harding will lead the Community Shout on Saturday, March 16 at the Broad Brook Grange in Guilford, Vermont.

Founded in 1989, Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group investigates the intersection of cultural anthropology and movement practices. Drawing from the ritual and body languages of the blues, slave and spiritual cultures of Africans in the Americas, Wilson combines those elements with post-modern structures to create what he calls "post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances."

Wilson will be in residence at Vermont Performance Lab with the two vocal artists from Fist and Heel Performance Group to continue research for the new dance performance piece, (project) Moseses Project. During the residency he will be developing a sound montage of tales and songs that VPL audiences will experience at the Community Shout on March 16.

Wilson's research for (project) Moseses Project was inspired partly by his travel to Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Mali and partly by his rereading of Zora Neale Hurston's Moses, Man of the Mountain, a retelling of the Exodus story as an African American folktale. Through the lens of varied Moses stories, (project) Moseses Project looks at the migration of peoples and culture out of Africa and into the rest of the world and pursues a multidimensional inquiry on how we lead and why we follow.

Reggie Wilson will be the first of four artists in residence at Vermont Performance Lab as part of The Hatchery Project, a new three year collaborative residency initiative with The Chocolate Factory (Long Island City, NY), Live Arts Brewery/Philadelphia Live Arts Festival (Philadelphia, PA), Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL), and Vermont Performance Lab (Guilford, VT) with lead support by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional funding by the National Endowment For The Arts.

Community Shout with Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group
WHEN: Saturday, March 16, 2013, 7:00PM
WHERE: Broad Brook Grange, 3940 Guilford Center Road in Guilford, VT
WHAT: A stimulating, transformative sing-a-long where participants restore and connect to their rhythmic voices and bodies. The Shout will unearth some of the origins, functions and interconnections through tales and songs from Africa and the African Diaspora.
Free and open to the public. For reservations and more info call 802-257-3361 or visit

Reggie Wilson draws from the ritual and body languages of the blues, slave and spiritual cultures of Africa and Africans in the Diaspora, combining them with post-modern structures, deconstruction and his particular movement idiom to create dance and multi-disciplinary performance work which he calls "Post-African/Neo HooDoo Modern dance."

His last major work, The Good Dance-dakar/Brooklyn (2009) abstractly traced the migration routes of his family along the Mississippi River from the Delta north to Milwaukee. The Good Dance sketched the horrors, commonalities, dissimilarities, abundance and beauty of life and travel along the great Mississippi and the Congo River.

Wilson's work has an on-going concern and response to the marginalization of Africa and its many iterations. Part of the business of the work utilizes deconstruction of the representation of the lives of black folks, using black bodies and black content in the illumination of the reality and the experience of how un-marginal Africa is. His works are a part of the dialogue and on-going investigation on how much of what came out of Africa affected and influenced world evolution and that this influence is still true today.

Wilson was a recipient of the Minnesota Dance Alliance's McKnight National Fellowship (2000 – 2001), a 2002 BESSIE and a 2002 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2009 he was the Herb Alpert Award recipient in Dance, and also a Prudential USA Fellow. Most recently, he was named a member of the inaugural class of Doris Duke Artists.

The Company's name is derived from a time when denied their drums, enslaved Africans in the Americas reinvented their spiritual dance traditions as a soulful art form that white authorities dismissed as merely "fist and heel" worshipping.

Fist & Heel Performance Group is the vehicle for the choreographic development and presentation of Reggie Wilson's performance work. It is a continued manifestation and inspiration of the rhythm languages of the body provoked by the spiritual, the mundane and movement traditions of Africa and its Diaspora, including the Blues, Slave, and Gospel idioms.

Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) is a laboratory for creative research and community engagement. Over the last five years, VPL has brought artists of regional, national and international stature to the grange halls, studios, theaters and classrooms of rural Vermont through its innovative artist residency program. Since 2006, VPL's community and education programs served more than 1,500 students, families and seniors in Windham County through workshops, informal performances and art-making experiences. VPL often partners with local organizations to host such residencies and create meaningful connections between artists and rural Vermont communities.