Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Dance 2022

Marguerite Angelica Monique Hemmings

A portrait of Marguerite Hemmings wearing a blank tank top and  translucent orange beads in their hair. They are standing in front of a wire fence with a bit of rose gold sequined fabric hanging off its edge. They face the camera directly and smile slightly.
Photo by Angel Edwards.
  • Performer, Choreographer, Educator
  • Born 1986, St. Andrew Parish, Jamaica
  • Lives in Philadelphia, PA
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  • Additional Information
  • wefreeee.com

Biography

Marguerite Angelica Monique Hemmings is a Jamaican-born, New Jersey-raised performance artist and educator. Their practice centers itself in liberation, developing the body and its unique way of moving, healing, and connecting to the unseen.

Hemmings works inside of a self- and spirit-directed practice called “we free.” we free engages the millennial and Generation Z approach to freedom through music, social dance, and social media. Like all of Hemmings’s work, we free is concentrated on the livelihood and reparation of the African continent and diaspora. It is a social experiment, a non-performance, a call to action, an ode, and, in moments, a critique of the endeavors of present and emerging generations to be free.

Antidote (2021)—their collaboration with new media artist LaJuné McMillian—uses motion capture software to explore spirituality, embodiment, and the restorative potential of movement in virtual space. Following the dually digital and physical basis of the performance, Antidote was presented in both video and live formats, the latter in collaboration with young artists from South Brooklyn Community High School in Red Hook and University Neighborhood High School on the Lower East Side. With support from a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, the work premiered at Abrons Art Center, New York, NY in 2021.

Hemmings has performed at University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA (2020); Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, NY (2018); Gibney Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, New York, NY (2017); and Danspace Project, New York, NY (2016).

Hemmings is the recipient of two Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants (2021, 2017); a Dancing While Black Fellowship from Angela’s Pulse Performance Projects (2015-2016); a Travel and Study Grant from the Jerome Foundation (2015); a Community Arts Grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council (2014); and a Fund for New Work Award from Harlem Stage (2011). They have participated in fellowships through Arizona State University’s Projecting All Voices (2019) and Urban Bush Women’s Choreographic Center Initiative (2017-2019). They received a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Performer in Skeleton Architecture (2017).

Hemmings lectures at University of the Arts. They hold a B.A. in Education and Urban Studies from Columbia University.

Artist Statement

My work is about liberatory creative practice: art that liberates and feels liberating to create. My style is experimental. I study movements that are led by the youth, that develop outside in dancehalls, in ritual, in social settings, in response to social conditions. There, I find the pulse that drives social innovation, healing, and transformation. My work honors the reparation, livelihood, and aliveness of the African Diaspora.

- December 2021

A performer looks upwards, mid-jump with one leg extended and the other lifted and bent. One arm is raised above their head and the other is bent by their side. They wear clothing in various shades of rust-red and orange. A puddle of blue light is beneath them but the rest of the setting is black.
Performance still from we free solo, at New York Live Arts, New York, 2018. Photo by Ian Douglas.
A performer lunges diagonally with their mouth open, suggesting speech. They wear a tan t-shirt, black sweatpants and white sneakers. A warm light floods the space from a position on the floor, casting shadows onto other performers who stand against a white wall in the background.
Performance still from we free, at Gibney Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, New York, 2017. Performers: Marguerite Angelica Monique Hemmings, Arielle Rosales, Italy Welton, Courtney Cook, and the audience. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Gibney.
Three performers dance in unison with their right hips jutted out and their hands held together above their heads. The two performers on the outer edges wear white t-shirts and the performer in the center wears a black t-shirt. Behind them, a projection against the wall protrays five other people walking. The entire scene is lit with pink light.
Performance still from we free, at Gibney Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, New York, 2017. Performers: Marguerite Angelica Monique Hemmings, Arielle Rosales, Italy Welton, Courtney Cook, and the audience. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Gibney.
Three performers lean over, extending their arms so that they nearly touch the wooden floor. Behind them, a projection against the wall shows a firework graphic against a series of multi-colored stripes. The room is lit with a light purple color, casting shadows of the performers onto the left wall.
Performance still from we free, at Gibney Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, New York, 2017. Performers: Marguerite Angelica Monique Hemmings, Arielle Rosales, Italy Welton, Courtney Cook, and the audience. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Gibney.
A performer leans backwards, with their arms raised and bent by the shoulders and their eyes closed. They wear a black lace crop top, an unbuttoned black shirt, and jean shorts. A projection of two young girls against a geometric patterned white wall and shorter tan stone wall is over layed across the entire scene.
Performance still from we free solo, at Gibney Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, New York, 2015. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Gibney.