The Florida State University’s School of Dance welcomes Bessie Award-Winning Marjani Forté-Saunders again for a Teaching Residency from February 11-14, 2019. Marjani will contribute to the Contemporary Dance classes as well as work with students in the Composition/Improvisation class, and Contemporary Perspectives on Dance Lecture class. Marjani first visited the School of Dance as the first residency between MANCC and UBW’s Choreographic Center Initiative.
Marjani Forté-Saunders is an independent artist based in Northwest Pasadena, California, where she is Co-Director of the Alkebulan Cultural Center, and previously co-founded Love|Forté A COLLECTIVE with Nia Love. She is one of twenty-one Black Women and Gender Non-Conforming artists curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, now operating as the collective Skeleton Architecture, to receive the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance. Forté-Saunders is also an Inaugural Recipient of the UBW Choreographic Center Fellowship and a 2014 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship awardee. Her work has been presented widely across New York City and was incubated in residencies at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Movement Research, Bronz Academy of Arts and Dance, Danspace Project/St. Mark’s Church, Gibney Dance, Queensborough College, and, most recently, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Extended Life Residency. Forté-Saunders’ work continues to tour internationally and collaborate with communities.
As an extension of her choreography, and with support from the SURDNA Foundation Thriving Cultures Grant, Forté-Saunders curated a three-month exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art in Brooklyn, New York, titled being Here… in Memory. The three-month exhibit housed the work of four multi-media and design artists and partnered with neighboring Brooklyn-based organizations offering workshops in creative writing, healing practices, and embodied storytelling for teen artists. Moreover, she spent nearly four years steeped in a study of trauma and its historic impact on systematically oppressed communities and bodies. This study resulted in a trilogy of works, Here…, being Here…, and being Here…/this time. The latter was developed within a Director’s Choice Dance In Process Residency at the Gibney Dance/Agnes Varis Performance Lab in New York in May 2015. Previously, Forté-Saunders worked as a touring artist for five years, with Urban Bush Women Dance Company (UBW). During this time she was a part of the original cast of UBW’s collaboration with the Compagnie Jant-Bi of Senegal, and one of two artists ever to perform Blondell Cumming’s American Masterpiece, Chicken Soup. She continues to be a member of Urban Bush Women’s BOLD Teaching Network, offering UBWs unique approach to dance training and community engagement. As a teaching artist, Forté-Saunders has served as an Adjunct Lecturer, teaching Modern Contemporary Technique at Hunter College City University of New York and as a Guest Lecturer/Choreographer at Princeton University, Bard College, and at the Yale School of Acting Graduate Program teaching practices in Embodied Storytelling.
With deep gratitude, Forté-Saunders mobilizes her work while honoring that it stems from being born in and having engaged with culturally rich, vibrant, historic, and politically charged communities.