weighted sky
presented by the Andy Warhol Museum

November 11, 2021

weighted sky is a collaboratively built work between slowdanger, MICHIYAYA Dance Directors Anya and Mitsuko Clarke-Verdery, and sound artist Abdu Ali, with original set pieces by sculptor Rob Hackett. The work explores the collapse of capitalism and white supremacist structures on the bodies of people, nationally and globally. It deconstructs hustle culture and seeks to create a process of active imagining for a queer future where we can thrive. 

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Artistic Direction: slowdanger, MICHIYAYA Dance, Abdu Ali

Performance by: Abdu Ali, Anya Clarke-Verdery, Mitsuko Clarke-Verdery, taylor knight, anna thompson

Sound Score: Abdu Ali

Sculptures: Rob Hackett

Costumes: Mad Recital

Stage Manager: Anna Wotring

Advisory Committee: Sidra Bell and Billy Dean Thomas

Special Thanks: Tsohil Bhatia and the Space Upstairs

The weighted sky project was made possible by Unique Projects, Pentacle Administrative Support Program, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Opportunity Fund, the Heinz Endowments Small Arts Initiative, the PNC Charitable Trusts and the Pittsburgh Foundation A W Mellon Grant.

Photo by Mitsuko Clarke-Verdery

slowdanger

about the artists

anna thompson and taylor knight, are co-founders of multidisciplinary performance entity, slowdanger. slowdanger fuses sound and movement through improvised contemporary and postmodern dance frameworks using found material, electronic instrumentation, vocalization, emerging technology and ontological examination. They recognize their collaborative work as a non-binary entity that is one body amassed of multiple bodies in space. Within this system, they work with an engaged and deepened understanding of energy, synergy, action, gender, time, and storytelling. slowdanger has been featured at/in Dance Magazine’s ‘ 25 to Watch’, The MoMA, Kennedy Center, Place Des Arts, Springboard Danse Montreal, The Andy Warhol Museum, Usine C, Dance Place, The Carnegie Museum of Art and more. slowdanger has received support from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Heinz Endowments, The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and The Opportunity Fund. In 2019 they premiered ‘empathy machine’ at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Martin E. Segal Center NYC and Dance Place DC. In 2019, they were Creatives in Residence at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon and Performers in Residence at the Carnegie Museum of Art. In 2021 they presented far field at the Kennedy Center for the Arts as a part of Ben Levine/Extreme  Lengths Productions LENS program. Currently, they are adjunct modern dance faculty at Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts. www.slowdangerslowdanger.com

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Photo by Audrey Gatewood

MICHIYAYA Dance

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Photos by Jeremiah Cumberbatch

Artistic Directors Anya and Mitsuko Clarke-Verdery founded MICHIYAYA Dance as a way to combine their voices as artists—Anya, a Black queer choreographer/dance artist from Brooklyn, and Mitsuko, a white & Japanese queer visual/performance artist from Manhattan. Now in their sixth year, MICHIYAYA is an evolving dance company of five dance artists based in New York City. MICHIYAYA’s work has spread nationally at venues and institutions such as Yale University, Brooklyn Museum, Andy Warhol Museum, Gelsey Kirkland Theater, La MaMa Galleria, among others. This powerful group of femme voices has been featured in Art Forum, Vice i-D, Thinx, Mask Magazine, and more. 

Anya & Mitsuko's performance work is woven into their roles as educators and facilitators. They've worked with the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance, University of Santa Barbara, Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program, Center for Anti-Violence Education, Dancing Grounds, and more. They were selected as 2019 Artists in Residence at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art & Drama and 2018 PearlDiving Movement Artists at PearlArts Studios. Anya & Mitsuko’s vision has been supported by Microsoft, CVS Health, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Opportunity Fund, and Dance/NYC. www.michiyayadance.org

Abdu Ali

Abdu Ali is a Baltimore based electronic musician, writer, cultural worker and multidisciplinary artist who works in sound, collaboration, video and performance. Their work often interrogates ideas of race, gender, and sexuality that manifests as poetic inquiries of identity, promoting liberation from oppressive ideologies and encouraging self marginalized peoples to be self determined. Their work also centers promoting authentic Black queer legacies and narratives as our histories are often subjected to distortion and erasure.

Performing across the United States and Europe, through their energetic visceral live shows, spiritualizing audiences, they have been anointed as a cosmic, punk, and soulful tempest on stage. Ali has performed at MoMa Ps1, The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Kennedy Center and their work has been highlighted by the New York Times, The Fader, Elephant Magazine and Tracks Arte TV. Ali has been a recipient of a 2018 Ruby Artist Grant and have held residencies at 2018 Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp and 2018 Pioneer Works. In 2019, Ali founded as they lay, a curatorial platform that claims space for critical dialogue, collaboration and radical envisioning for Black creative futures. www.abduali.com

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Photo by Sidney Allen

Rob Hackett

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Originally from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Rob Hackett attended the University of Pittsburgh to study Studio Arts and Economics. Upon receiving his degree, Hackett moved to Maryland to pursue an MFA from the University of Maryland where he was awarded a one-year teaching fellowship after graduation to teach sculpture and printmaking. Hackett has had solo exhibitions at the Hamiltonian Gallery, Hillyer Art Space, and VisArts as well as group exhibitions in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and D.C. In 2016 Hackett participated in a residency at Salem Art Works in Salem, NY where he now has a sculpture on permanent loan at the Cary Hill Sculpture Park. Upon returning to the Pittsburgh area, Hackett worked with Staycee Pearl Dance Project to design and fabricate set Pieces for "sym.", a piece inspired by the works of Octavia Butler. Hackett currently lives in Wilkinsburg, PA and runs a leather working business with his partner, Jocelyn Avila, and teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh. www.robhackett.net