Kesting Inoculate Walker Moonshine


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Walker to Perform “Mas” Solo Works in Upcoming Concert UNMASKED

Choreographer Chris Walker will present a collection of works that delves deep into the contemporary art of Caribbean ‘mas’ that is steeped in West Indian Carnival tradition.  The works reveal ongoing connections between African Diasporic continuities like dancehall, soca and hip hop and West African practices that inform them, and celebrate freedom, spirituality, and our relationships with one another and the planet through Carnival culture of costume, music, and movement.

The concert, titled UNMASKED, will feature Walker’s choreography, and performance on stilts,  design works by Laura Anderson Barbata and Briana McCarthy, as well as a special guest performance of Makeda Thomas’ “Light” on October 19-20, 2017 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dance Department’s Margaret H’Doubler Performance Space.

Many in Jamaica have noted that Walker, who is an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a choreographer for the National Theater Dance Company (NDTC) of Jamaica, has a gift for crafting contemporary movement that is deeply rooted in Jamaican and Caribbean culture and folk dance vocabulary. This concert is no exception. In it, he unearths and confronts conflicted ancient and modern West Indian narratives and considers new meaning through contemporary movement vocabulary.

Walker’s “translation of folk and popular dance vocabulary
is just downright sexy.” - Tanya Batson-Savage, Susumba

“visually stunning” and “well-designed work [that] seamlessly
incorporate[ed] indigenous dance and movement with modern dance and
strong theatrical elements.” - Walter Rutledge, O&A NYC Magazine

Walker will perform two solo works in this concert.

“Obàtálá,” new choreography based on his research of Orisha dance in Brazil, Trinidad and Cuba, explores human spirituality and our attempts of connecting to a higher power and to each other, informing how we relate to the spaces around us. The mas Walker will play is a Moko Jumbie fabricated by Gregory Young for the New Waves! 2017 mas presentation "Whitewash" which took place in New York City early September.

He will also present a new performance art work titled "Seaweed King," a character of the same name  developed in collaboration with Laura Anderson Barbata for “What Lives Beneath” commissioned by TBA21 and presented at The Current, Convening, The Kula Ring in Jamaica. The project is a cross-disciplinary performance addressing climate change.

Based on firsthand experiences, research and ancient wisdom, "Seaweed King" charts the physical and emotional relationship maintained with the ocean and the urgent need for collective transformation. Walker’s choreography with this mas explores that which is lost, refused and extinct.

Walker will also present “Mountain Climbing” which was performed in Brooklyn in March 2017 as part of the NDTC’s 55th Anniversary concert season. This solo, which will be performed by dance alumna Mary Patterson, is a reflection of Caribbean culture—the spiritual folk traditions that connect its people to their ancestry—as well as a demonstration of women’s self-discovery through the rite of transcendence.

Three excerpts from Walker’s most recent major work “Dis Connection” formerly “Manifest” will also be on the program.  “Banana Man,” “Anancy Crossing,” and “Curtain Call” will include performances from dance artists Amansu Eason, Indika Dullela and Espuppy (a.k.a. Christopher Escoffery).

“Dis Connection has the look of a Picasso painting
bright and bold,with weirdly shaped features...
forc[ing] one to look at people around differently”
-The Gleaner, Kingston Jamaica

Guest artist Makeda Thomas, who Walker has collaborated with for the last seven years at the New Waves Dance and Performance Institute in Trinidad and Tobago, will perform her solo work “Light.” “Light” is an excerpt from "The Light Fantastical," an open series of artistic explorations that considers how Caribbean cultural forms navigate time and space, and innovate new histories, sciences and aesthetics to inform a matrix of “Caribbean Futurisms.” Thomas is an artistic director, choreographer, dancer, writer and curator living in in New York City and Port of Spain. She has created and continues to create works through cross-disciplinary collaboration with artists around the world.  She will give a public lecture and masterclass while on campus.

Performances & Tickets

UNMASKED will be performed Thursday, October 19 at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, October 20 at 3:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. at the Margaret H’Doubler Performance Space, Lathrop Hall, 1050 University Avenue, Madison WI. Tickets are available online through the Campus Arts Box Office at www.uniontheater.wisc.edu,  by phone at (608) 265-ARTS (2787), or in person at Memorial Union, First Floor,  800 Langdon Street, Madison, WI.


There will be a reception in the Virginia Harrison Parlor, Lathrop Hall with the choreographers and performers immediately following Friday’s evening show. Refreshments will be served.

About Chris Walker

Chris Walker is an associate professor of Dance and former artistic director of the First Wave program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a choreographer with the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) of Jamaica, and program director for the New Waves Dance & Performance Institute in Trinidad & Tobago. Walker currently serves as choreographer for the #BARS Workshop at The Public Theatre in NYC, a workshop theatre in verse created by artists Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs. He is a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including the UW-Madison Romnes Fellowship. He has presented his concert dance work in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Walker’s choreography for Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago has been nominated in 2016 and in 2017 for the Chicago Black Theater Alliance Ira Aldridge Award. Walker has presented at dance conferences in England and North America and presented “Contemporizing in Reverse” for the annual Philip Sherlock Lecture in Kingston, Jamaica (2014) and with Dr. Monika Lawrence, presented “Nettleford’s NDTC: Folk Origins and Contemporary Aesthetics” during the Rex Nettleford Arts Conference at the Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica (2015).  His recent works for stage include “Dis Connection” with the NDTC, developed from “Manifest” for Muntu Dance of Chicago, as well as currently touring project “FACING Home: Love & Redemption,” in collaboration with Kevin A. Ormsby and Kashedance in Toronto.  Walker also developed collaborative work with Laura Anderson Barbata: “Jus Luv/Rolling Calf” a Jamaican ‘mas’ character in collaboration for Barbata’s “Intervention: Indigo,” presented in Brooklyn (2015) and in the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, “What Lives Beneath” commissioned by TBA21 for The Current, Kula Ring in Jamaica, “Oceans Calling” a TBA21 commission  and presented in June 2017 at the United Nations in NYC. His new solo works include “Obàtálá,” a Moko Jumbie mas on 4' stilts in collaboration with Makeda Thomas and Gregory Young for New Waves! 2017 mas presentation "Whitewash" in New York City in September 2017.

About Makeda Thomas

Described as belonging to that new breed of contemporary artists, ‘the postmodern African Diasporan dancer-scholar whose work goes beyond stereotype and the market appetite for clichés regarding the black dancing body’, Makeda Thomas has created several works through cross-disciplinary collaboration with artists around the world. Her choreography, films and site-specific work has been presented internationally at HARLEM Stage/Aaron Davis Hall, Teatro Africa, Mozambique, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York Live Arts, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, CCA7, Port of Spain, and Teatro de la Ciudad, Mexico with awards and commissions from Creative Capital, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation,and 651 ARTS Black Dance: Tradition & Transformation; among others. Thomas is the Founding Director of the Trinidad-based Dance & Performance Institute.

Acknowledgments & Support

Support for this concert comes in part from the UW-Madison Romnes award and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.

Contact: Kelly Kwiatkowski, kkwiatkowski@wisc.edu, 608-262-2353


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