Dr. William R. Jones Archive Residency Inaugural Fellow Maria Bauman (BFA Dance 2002) recently returned to the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC) to continue her explorations of the archives of eminent activist, scholar, philosopher, theologian and educator, Dr. William R. Jones.
MANCC welcomed multi-disciplinary artist, artistic director of MBDance, and community organizer Maria Bauman at the start of the Spring 2023 season of MANCC artist residencies. Bauman returned as the Inaugural Fellow for the Dr. William R. Jones Archive residency, continuing her research into the work of Dr. Jones, who taught at Florida State University from 1977–1999 in the Department of Religion and founded FSU’s African American Studies Program in 1977–78. Her research first began last year at the invitation of Dr. Jones’ son Darrell Jones (MFA Dance, 1995; MANCC resident artist, 2020-2021) and then continued during her first MANCC residency in July 2022. Her 2023 residency was from January 17 to 23 and again included embedded writer/MANCC alumnus jumatatu poe as well as her three other collaborators: Audrey Hailes, Rhapsody Stiggers and Olivia Mozie.
During her second residency, Bauman, her three collaborators and embedded writer further dove into Bauman’s relationship with Dr. Jones as one of his former students, questioning and reconsidering her own assumptions about art making and socialization through engaging with Dr. Jones’ extensive collection of archived materials. Bauman continued her work in the Special Collections and Archives reading room in Strozier Library, which houses Dr. Jones’ impressive archive including recordings, papers, books, images, and ephemera, as well as MANCC’s dance studio, moving her practice into new contexts to meet the demands of Dr. Jones’ work.
“Dr. Jones, his body isn’t here dancing with us, his body isn’t even here witnessing us,” explains Bauman, “but in my dancing, can I call up a relationship? So for me, in the actual dancing, there’s a lot of practice of being with myself, being with other people on this plane, being with other people and ideas across this plane, and then Blackness is this beautiful specter…I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t create it, but I’m more than willing to deal with it and hold it as both sacred and also just something to box up against.”
Bauman and her collaborators continued to analyze Dr. Jones’ concepts in several different directions, highlighting his JOG (Jones Oppression Grid) and JAM (Jones Analytic Model) tools of analysis, listening to his lectures and reviewing physical materials. She also drew on the work of his contemporaries such as James H. Cone, and the depth of knowledge present in Darrell Jones, who was able to visit Bauman and discuss her work during both of her residencies in July 2022 and January 2023.
Her January residency culminated in an offering of her and her collaborators’ embodied work to date with Dr. Jones’ archives as part of the Living the Archive of William R. Jones Symposium, hosted by FSU’s Special Collections and Archives, College of Fine Arts, and Department of Religion. The Symposium took place from January 19-21 in partnership with MANCC.
Bauman’s work manifested in a two-hour long participatory offering of her work at FSU’s School of Dance in Studio 404. The embodied showing allowed participants to experience some of Dr. Jones’ practices that Bauman included in her multidisciplinary offering, utilizing movement, sound, text, voiceovers and provocations.
“The embodied experience and showing gave me a new perspective towards archiving,” says Emily Gumal, a first-year graduate student at FSU’s School of Dance. “I hadn’t thought that history, legacies and archives could be portrayed in such a way before. Maria’s strategy of having us experience Dr. William R. Jones’ techniques and learning strategies helped me understand the piece better. It was a unique way of introducing us to the world of Dr. William R. Jones.”
After the showing, participants were encouraged to voice their experiences in a discussion, and a reception was conducted in FSU School of Dance’s lobby to allow the performers and participants to mingle and interact about the performance, the residency, and the Symposium as a whole.
The Dr. William R. Jones Archive Residency at MANCC and MANCC’s Embedded Writer Program are supported, in part, by the Mellon Foundation.