Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Dance 2013

Rashaun Mitchell

A portrait of Rashaun Mitchell in front of a horizontally striped grey wall. He has short black hair, a short beard, and wears a gold beaded jacket.
  • Choreographer, Performer, Teacher
  • Born Stamford, CT, 1978
  • Lives in Brooklyn, NY
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  • Additional Information

rashaunsilasdance.com

… And finally, I was able to subsidize my most recent premiere, Way In, in collaboration with Silas Riener, Claudia LaRocco, and Davison Scandrett at Danspace Project in St. Mark's Church. For the first time, we were able to hire a project manager for the duration of the process ($2,000). This proved to be incredibly valuable to us and allowed us to focus on making the work itself. The FCA grant allowed us to feel confident enough to hire this person for at least one additional year (anticipated $6,000) to continue those same duties and to begin to develop a long term plan with myself and Silas Riener, with whom I continue to make work.

- Rashaun Mitchell, January 2014

Biography

Rashaun Mitchell is a choreographer and performer. His choreography has been presented in New York City by Danspace Project, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, La MaMa Moves Festival, Mount Tremper Arts, and at Skirball Center at New York University. As a performer, Mitchell has worked with artists including Chantal Yzermans, Donna Uchizono, Pam Tanowitz, Risa Jaroslow, Sara Rudner, Jonah Bokaer, Richard Colton, Deborah Hay, Rebecca Lazier, and Silas Riener. With support from his Grants to Artists, Mitchell premiered two new works in 2013, Interface at Baryshnikov Arts Center, and Way In at Danspace Project.

Following his 2013 FCA support, Mitchell and Silas Riener were listed in Dance Magazine's “25 to Watch" and were selected for Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's inaugural Extended Life Development Program (2013). Mitchell received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2014), and in 2014, Mitchell and Riener were New York City Center Choreographic Fellows and artists-in-residence at Wellesley College. Prior to his 2013 Grants to Artists, Mitchell received a Princess Grace Award: Dance Fellowship (2007), a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie" Award for Sustained Achievement in the work of Merce Cunningham 2004-2012 (2011), and a “Bessie" Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer (2012).

Mitchell is a Cunningham Fellow and a licensed stager of the company's repertory. He has been on faculty at Sarah Lawrence College and is a full time professor of dance at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He received a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.

Artist Statement

Performance directly feeds my appetite for change and discovery. I have imagined myself to be an architect, musician, fashion designer, photographer, anthropologist, writer, and wizard, but in my confusion I became a choreographer, identifying the body as a place where all of these forms intersect.

Choreography seems to be about making wishes and seeing if they come true. I'm fascinated with the messy magic of it all, the alchemy of the performer/audience entanglement. I'm deeply enamored by the shared experience and the social ritual. As a performer and dance-maker, I experience dance as a medium that reflects and highlights the complexities of public and private human interactions. My research examines the building blocks of communication, the implicit agreement between giving and receiving, power dynamics, alienation, behavioral fluency, and mimicry––all within the realm of rigorous physical and mental organization.

Rather than creating some kind of quantifiable and recognizable stylistic signature, I prefer to engage with each dance from a new place, to tackle the immediate artistic questions with a scrutiny of form that is appropriate for the task at hand. In this way, each work stands on its own as a unique experience. I believe dance is an earthly form with the ability to create meaning and connection beyond the physical realm. My work aims to offer a liminal space for infinite shared experiences, past, present, and future.

- December 2014

Mitchell wearing white pants and tank top twists his waist looking back at his extended arm as one performer dressed in a black bodysuit holds his extended back leg, one performer dressed in white holds his waist, and a fourth performer dressed in yellow holds his other hand.
Performance still from FCA-supported Interface, 2013. Photo by Stephanie Berger.
On a bright stage set with a backdrop of black and white abstract paintings, one performer balances another performer on their extended right leg, one performer bends their knees and looks upwards at their raised arms, and one performer stands upstage, facing the back wall.
Performance still from FCA-supported Interface, 2013. Photo by Stephanie Berger.
Excerpt from FCA-supported Interface at Baryshnikov Arts Center, 2013.
In a dimly-lit space enclosed by chain-link fence and gray walls, one performer wearing only silver shorts hangs onto the fence and raises one bent leg behind them. In the background beside a parked black car, one performer holds a cardboard sign written:
Performance still from FCA-supported Way In, 2013. Photo by Lily Echeveria.
Two performers in hot pink lace jumpsuits and jelly sandals strike poses against a gray wall painted with mint green scallop print.
Performance still from FCA-supported Way In, 2013. Photo by Lily Echeveria.
Two side-by-side performers in hot pink lace jumpsuits bend their knees and look up towards their raised arm in a rainy street in front of a parking lot with palm trees and green foliage. Behind them a person wearing a pink headmask drives a car with a speaker in the back window.
Performance still from FCA-supported Way In, 2013. Photo by Lily Echeveria.
Mitchell wearing a hot pink jumpsuit faces forward and leans with his back leg raised and his arms outstretched against a gray wall with ombre pink, orange, and yellow sunset colored scallop print.
Performance still from FCA-supported Way In, 2013. Photo by Lily Echeveria.
Excerpt from FCA-supported Way In at Danspace Project, 2013.