Photo: Maria Baranova
Bill T. Jones, Saul Williams and Company
So much of what Meany does on our stage and in the community wouldn’t be possible without collaboration with, and the support of, our many partners off campus and on.
Partnering for Impact
Becoming: At Home in the World was the result of our partnership with Bill T. Jones and New York Live Arts.
It was also remarkable for the breadth of connections it created, both on campus and in the community. For example, Berette Macaulay, founder of the Black Cinema Collective, partnered with the UW’s Simpson Center and Northwest Film Forum to screen Saul Williams’ film Neptune Frost the week before we presented Motherboard Suite. She also moderated Motherboard’s post-show Q&A.
On campus, individual faculty members provided critical support. Professor Jasmine Mahmoud moderated a post-show Q&A with artists Robyn Orlin and Albert Ibokwe Khoza, while professors Juliette Mains and Diana Garcia-Snyder developed a 1-credit dance course connected to Daniel Alexander Jones’s I Choose to Remember Us Whole, which The Henry Art Gallery co-presented.
Other partnerships included Northwest Tap Connection and Langston facilitating community dance workshops with Step Afrika! and Camille A. Brown and Dancers; and Seattle Sacred Music and Arts promoting Fires of Varanasi, and Strings for Peace.
Think Globally, Act Locally
Although Meany Center’s mission is to present touring artists on our stage, we are deeply committed to supporting local artists however we can.
In 2022-23, Bill T. Jones was looking for a Seattle choreographer to create new work for The Motherboard Suite, a multi-media performance directed by Bill and written and performed by slam poet turned musician Saul Williams with dance by six distinguished choreographers. As the show toured the country, Bill wanted to invite local choreographers to create a seventh piece to be performed in their location.
For Motherboard Suite’s west coast premiere here at Meany, we commissioned choreographer and dancer Jade Solomon Curtis to create a new work exploring Williams’ take on the intersection of technology and race.
The commission not only provided financial support for Jade, it came at a time in her life when she needed a morale boost. Coming when it did, she says, was “a reminder from the universe telling me, ‘Hey, Jade, your voice, your vessel is important, and you need to be here.’”
Also this year, with support from the College of Arts and Sciences, Meany continues to support 16 other local artists—who are also UW faculty—through our Creative Research Fellowship program.
On November 10, 2022, Sō Percussion performed on our stage with composer and vocalist Caroline Shaw. After the intermission, 18 UW percussion and voice students joined the professional musicians to perform Amid the Noise in front of an appreciative Meany audience.
Flowerpots, desk call bells, blocks of wood, spinning ratchet noisemakers and toy pianos among other homely objects joined steel drums, xylophones, marimbas, congas and more for twenty minutes of joyous controlled chaos.
Students and quartet members moved between instruments taking up and laying down the beats as Caroline Shaw and the UW voice students contributed vocals.
UW Chair of Percussion Studies Bonnie Whiting was thrilled that her students had the rare opportunity to play with professional musicians of Sō Percussion’s stature, but in a “low-stakes” environment — “Because Sō Percussion made it so much fun!” she said.
The students echoed Professor Whiting’s enthusiasm. “It was really fun,” First year student Kaisho Barnhill said. “They’re obviously world-renowned percussionists and it’s an honor to get to work with them. Just watching them play we’re able to learn so much.”
Meany believes in sharing the wealth of talent on our stage — we look for opportunities to bring together established artists and aspiring ones whenever we can.
Sō Percussion performing with UW students
Photo: Warren Woo