Press Release: Reggie Wilson/ Fist and Heel Performance Group

For Immediate Release: October 16, 2019

Contact: Beth Whelan 

5620 SW Edgemont Place, Portland, OR  97239  

(503) 245-1600 | elizabeth@whitebird.org

www.whitebird.org

 REGGIE WILSON’S FIST AND HEEL PERFORMANCE GROUP RETURNS TO WHITE BIRD UNCAGED WITH HIS LATEST INTENSELY EXHILARATING WORK POWER. 

AWARD-WINNING CHOREOGAPHER RE-IMAGINES WHAT THE BLACK SHAKER MOVEMENT COULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE AND BUILDS UPON THE EARLY EVOLUTION OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA, COMBINING PHYSICALITY AND SPIRITUAL PRACTICE. 

Who: Reggie Wilson/ Fist and Heel Performance Group, POWER

Presented by: White Bird Uncaged

When: Thurs- Sat | November 7-9 | 8pm

Where: Lincoln Hall, Portland State University, SW Market (between Park and Broadway)

Uncaged Season Sponsor: Ronni Lacroute

Media sponsor: Willamette Week 

Tickets: Starting at $25, available at whitebird.org and Portland’5 Box Office, 1111 SW Broadway with NO added fees. Or, call 503-245-1600 ext. 201 (note: Addition $3 per ticket charged for processing over the phone). Discounts available for groups/students/seniors and professional dancers

"A remarkable work that flows seamlessly from start to finish." 

-The New York Times

Returning to White Bird Uncaged for the second time, Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel Performance Group  will perform Wilson’s newest work, POWER, which explores the rich spiritual traditions and soulful art forms of the African diaspora, including blues, slave and gospel cultures. Wilson’s company last appeared with White Bird in November 2016 with his powerful Moses(es). There will be a three-show run of POWER at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall on Thurs-Sat, November 7-9 at 8pm each night. 

POWER is a reimagination of what the Black Shaker movement could have looked like and is the outgrowth of  Wilson’s earlier work-in progress, which he titled “They stood shaking while others began to shout,” which was performed in the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittock, Massachusetts. This past summer POWER  premiered at Jacob’s Pillow, where Director Pamela Tatge commented, “Wilson’s nuanced lens into the physicality of spirituality is unmatched.” 

POWER was developed through two residencies at the Pillow Lab and Berkshire-based Hancock Shaker Village, a location that was pertinent to Wilson’s research as he traveled from Philadelphia, where the original Black Shaker community emerged, to Massachusetts, where he found that the Quakers’ involvement with the Underground Railroad had influenced the formation of the Black Shakers. Running 60 minutes with no intermission, POWER itself is an intensely exhilarating layering of rhythms, sounds, and movements from different traditions and eras. Wilson’s work always explores the African diaspora and the way African cultures have blended and evolved in the Americas. Since there is no record of how African Americans interacted with Shaker worship and dance, Wilson “creates a language that is both plain and heartfelt,” (Berkshire On Stage).

Wilson’s 11-member company, Fist and Heel Performance Group, was founded in 1989 in Brooklyn, NY and features Wilson’s own personal movement style, which he calls “post-African/ Neo HooDoo Modern dance.” The name Fist and Heel derives from enslaved Africans in the Americas who reinvented their spiritual traditions as a soulful art form that white and black authorities dismissed as merely ‘fist and heel worshipping’. 

Reggie Wilson’s work has been presented nationally and internationally at venues such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York Live Arts, and Summerstage (NYC), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (Lee, MA), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), UCLA Live, and Redcat (Los Angeles), VSA NM (New Mexico), Myrna Loy (Helena, MT), The Flynn (Burlington, VT), Contemporary Arts Center (New Orleans), Dance Umbrella (Austin, TX), Linkfest and Festival e'Nkundleni (Zimbabwe), Dance Factory (South Africa), Danças na Cidade (Portugal), Festival Kaay Fecc (Senegal), The Politics of Ecstasy, and Tanzkongress 2013 (Germany).

Reggie Wilson is a graduate of New York University, Tisch School of the Arts (1988, Larry Rhodes, Chair). He has studied composition and been mentored by Phyllis Lamhut, and performed and toured with Ohad Naharin before forming Fist and Heel. He has lectured, taught and conducted workshops and community projects throughout the US, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. He has traveled extensively: to the Mississippi Delta to research secular and religious aspects of life there; to Trinidad and Tobago to research the Spiritual Baptists and the Shangoists; and also to Southern, Central, West and East Africa to work with dance/performance groups as well as diverse religious communities. He has served as visiting faculty member at several universities including Yale, Princeton and Wesleyan.

Mr. Wilson is the recipient of the Minnesota Dance Alliance's McKnight National Fellowship (2000-2001). Wilson is also a 2002 BESSIE-New York Dance and Performance Award recipient for his work The Tie-tongued Goat and the Lightning Bug Who Tried to Put Her Foot Down and a 2002 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. He has been an artist advisor for the National Dance Project and Board Member of Dance Theater Workshop. In recognition of his creative contributions to the field, Mr. Wilson was named a 2009 United States Artists Prudential Fellow and is a 2009 recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in Dance. In 2012, New York Live Arts presented a concert of selected Wilson works to critical acclaim and the same year he was named a Wesleyan University’s Creative Campus Fellow, received an inaugural Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and received the 2012 Joyce Foundation Award for his successful work Moses(es).

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White Bird’s 2019-20 Uncaged Series is supported by Ronni Lacroute and the National Endowment for the Arts. The 22nd season (2019-20) is also supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and the Arts Education & Access Fund; James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, , M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, Starseed Foundation and WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation).