AGAINST GRAVITY: FLYING AFRIKANS + Other URBan LEGENDS
This multimedia project is a choreographic solo of self-examination on Black masculinity using history, memory, text, poetry and geography in collaboration with sound artist Sada Espii Proctor and dramaturgy by Ayinde Jean-Baptiste. Interdisciplinary artist André M. Zachery begins this journey from the period of his youth in Chicago in the 1980-90’s considering how his personal narrative intersects with three legendary figures: Fred Hampton, Ben (Benji) Wilson and Harold Washington. Guided in part by the voice of Gwendolyn Brooks, the performance will explore Zachery’s experiences shouldering the weight of the wake of these three men --respectively a Black Panther revolutionary, a superstar athlete and a post-Civil Rights era politician. Against Gravity... is a chance to unpack how the expectations and pressures cast by their lives, deaths and pursuant mythologies shaped the Black men who came of age in the city they left.
ANDRÉ M. ZACHERY
CREATOR + DIRECTOR
André M. Zachery (he/him) is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist of Haitian and African American descent, and is a scholar, researcher and technologist with a BFA from Ailey/Fordham University and MFA in Performance & Interactive Media Arts from CUNY/Brooklyn College. As the artistic director of Renegade Performance Group his practice, research and community engagement artistically focuses on merging choreography, technology and Black cultural practices through multimedia work. André is a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard Fellow in Choreography and 2019 Jerome Hill Foundation Fellow in Choreography. André has worked on major projects across artistic mediums as a choreographer, media designer and consultant with artists such as Daniel Bernard Roumain, Cynthia Hopkins, Davalois Fearon, Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, Arin Maya, Rags & Ribbons, The Clever Agency, Kendra Foster, Manhattan School of Music, Burwell & Sasser and Spike Lee.
SADAH ESPII PROCTOR (ESPII)
SOUND DESIGNER + COMPOSER
Sadah Espii Proctor (she/her/Espii) is a VR director and sound/media designer for theatre and immersive experiences. Named by American Theatre Magazine as one of “6 Theatre Artists to Know” for multimedia storytelling, her work encompasses global stories of women, social issues, and the African Diaspora, often with an Afrofuturist/Cyberpunk lens. Her original work is also influenced by gothic horror, anime, and visual kei. She received her M.F.A. in Performance and Interactive Arts from Brooklyn College and is a proud alumna of Virginia Tech. Proctor’s work lies at the intersection of art, technology, and community. Visual collaborations have included Kimbra and Sophia Brous (EXO-TECH), Sasha Velour, Neycha, Soul Science Lab, and Hi-ARTS. Proctor works regularly throughout New York City and across the country as a sound and video designer in places like JACK, Brooklyn Museum, Pioneer Works, Portland Stage, August Wilson African American Cultural Center, and much more.
AYINDE JEAN-BAPTISTE (SKO)
DRAMATURG + PRODUCING DIRECTOR
Ayinde Jean-Baptiste (he/they/li) is a keeper of memory who occasionally commits acts of journalism.
A son of DuSable City, one of his parents was born in a colony, the other in the 1st nation in this hemisphere to throw off the yoke of slavery.
Trained at the feet of his elders in libraries, lecture halls, community meetings, rallies & marches as an organizer and strategist, Jean-Baptiste's work remains story-driven: the cultivation and protection of people’s voices and self-perception as capable of changing their environments, neighborhoods or circumstances.
As a multimedia storyteller, he uses voice to shift culture, engaging with communities of listening, memory-making, and movement. In recent years he and his work have been featured on WNYC, WBAI, WVON and WBEZ, and he has been awarded research and arts grants from the Black Metropolis Research Consortium and the City of Evanston. He has also served as an arts presenter with The Brooklyn Museum, Haiti Cultural Exchange, City Lore, the DuSable Museum & more.
MIKE DAVID T.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Mike David T. is a Southside of Chicago-based director, cinematographer, and photographer with Haitian roots holding an MS in Cinematography from DePaul University and a BA in Finance from Morehouse College. He holds a strong passion and appreciation for filmmaking and for building award-winning collaborations across networks, cultures, and geography. Through the lens his perspective has consistently inspired audiences, from his opportunity to actively engage with various creative communities. His is the founder of a film production and design studio - The Formula Don't Change - with organic collaborations spanning several Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles creatives.
His collaborations across experimental, documentary, narrative, and editorial arenas within these communities have most recently culminated with contributions to projects Black Owned (2021 Webby and Tribeca X award winner) and Bedtime Stories (2021 Cannes Silver Award winner), as well as a Roger Ebert Fellowship nomination (2020 Sundance Institute).