Zain Alam states, “My work centers on the question of what it means to borrow. I’m interested in how marginalized communities adapt to new surroundings through strategies to preserve their identity, assimilate into others, and innovate culture. As an artist, I’ve adapted my own personal vocabulary that builds on the Islamic histories and South Asian culture I’ve inherited. I similarly develop localized vocabularies for the projects undertaken across North America and South Asia, listening, researching, and borrowing from communities not my own before making work. My most recent exhibition in Calgary illustrated how found objects by force of time gain textures that cannot be purely synthesized, especially in the world of sound and music. Between popular Canadian ideas of the indigenous, the Western frontier, and the resourceful immigrant, I discovered a strange continuity— as revealed by documents in the archive—between what it means for someone to begin anew, to plant seeds of remembrance (and resilience) through art and altar, and to find language for reciprocity between those inside and out, “native” and not. Resident communities in Calgary guided me to discover the wealth of materials in spaces not necessarily labelled archives or museums, unintentionally elevating voices at the margins. Some may ask: why not “produce” something new? Now more than ever, as devotees of craft, artists must look to the immigrant, resourceful, hybrid, with their sense of re-use, mis-use, borrowing and sharing—to see anew what is already there. Here we may model new visions of "production" in an era of invented crises and imagined scarcity. I find treasure in histories “from below,” from voices otherwise on the margins of society, their everyday often just as intimate and beautiful as the pre-meditated and rehearsed. I relish the prospect of collecting, curating, and crafting with community, confident that the best art may be closer to us than we think, in the spaces we least expect.”
Zain Alam is an artist and musician whose work explores the life of minorities and the marginalized. Within histories provided and personal, his practice investigates how the act of borrowing transforms—and reinforces—traditional notions of “authenticity” and the “auteur” as the locus of creativity. He charts intimate relationships with archival materials through sampling, improvisational, and synthesis techniques to reanimate what we inherit. Described as “a unique intersection, merging the cinematic formality of Bollywood and geometric repetition of Islamic art,” his recording project Humeysha has been covered by Vice, Pacific Standard, and Village Voice. He has recently completed fellowships and residencies with the South Asian American Digital Archive, Islamic Scholarship Fund, Wreck City, and Harvard University.
Sara Gurevich states, “I perform with THE FEATH3R THEORY to deepen my understanding of what it means to be human. Also because it’s the most fun, challenging and intelligent work I have had the privilege to be a part of.”
Sara Gurevich is a New York City native residing in upstate New York. She currently performs exclusively with Raja Feather Kelly’s THE FEATH3R THEORY.
Gurevich holds a BFA with honors from the Ailey School/Fordham University, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree at NYU's Silver School of Social Work.
Coel Rodriguez states, "As a Hip Hop artist, I'm here to challenge the way you look at performance. The way you hear, move, see and embody. I'm interested in themes surrounding accessibility, conversations between communities and the popular culture that arose from those practices. In short, people being people. I'd like to see those same values in performance. Hip Hop is for everyone, how we engage in it is how things differ."
Juan "Co-eL" Rodriguez is a dance based artist from Phoenix, Arizona. He began his artistic venture training a Urban Styles/Hip Hop at an early age, his primary form being Breaking. He later attended Arizona State University where he studied Dance and became interested in other artistic ventures including postmodern dance, various forms of improvisation and lighting design as an extension of his already existing practice. His interests now revolve around Hip Hop research, education, history, improvisation, battling, ethnography and choreography. As both an educator and an artist, Co-eL wishes to spread hip hop practice in order to help broaden the field while challenging the ways institutions represent Hip Hop culture. This includes opening up spaces for conversation and discourse as well as thinking about how to make the field and its contents understood and available/accessible.
COLLIN RANF states, “Using storytelling, movement, and performed rituals, I engage in dialogue with audiences about the appropriation and commodification of new age spiritual practices. In my process, I intersect dance, theater, and spirituality. I embrace practices of channeling (the practice of entering a trance-like state to serve as a medium for spirits), meditation, and classical dance training while juxtaposing them with my ideas on gender and race, questions on how to live authentically, and stories about my experience as a queer person and artist. Determined to re-contextualize performance and ceremony, I task myself with creating a charged space where the potential for change to happen becomes greater. My work intends to reclaim a capacity to express the social, political, and cultural framework of the American experience authentically and messily.”
Collin Ranf is a 6th generation Montanan, Brooklyn based dance artist, 500 hour registered yoga teacher, Pilates instructor, and home-cook (@bobbys_cooking_adventures). At 13 he dropped out of middle school to become a ballerina, later going on to study at The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. After attaining a B.F.A. from The University of Montana, he moved to NYC to pursue dancing professionally. Shortly after, he began working with B.S. Movement and Raja Feather Kelly’s company, the feath3r theory (current performer). Collin’s work intends to re-contextualize ceremony and performance and derail expectations of what spirituality can mean; what performance can be; and what it means to live authentically and messily. Collin was a 2017/2018 Brooklyn Arts Exchange Upstart artist and currently serves as the Development Associate at Youth America Grand Prix. www.collinranf.com.
Ashley R.T. Yergens
ASHLEY R.T. YERGENS states, “I am investigating the assimilation of trans identities into American popular culture and what events led Time Magazine to mark 2014 as the ‘Transgender Tipping Point’. My craftsmanship is inspired by my mentor Larissa Velez-Jackson’s Star Crap Method as a guide for my own use of voice, improvisation, and physical comedy. Visually, my performances unapologetically cross-contaminate references, aesthetics, and performative boundaries. I craft performances like obstacle courses. Obstacle courses only function when they’re activated by a performer and their transitions. At first glance, my obstacle courses function like poorly laid scaffolding. Through boiling hot messes of props and color, performances first find organization, then meaning, and finally reveal a trans gaze through layers of pop culture and physical renderings of the Internet-machine. While I don’t actively seek to make humorous work, humor is often the byproduct of forging unexpected relationships between seemingly unrelated objects or people. I believe humor can melt away feelings of hostility and embarrassment. So, I harness humor when it arises to melt away hostility and embarrassment surrounding the transsexual body and gaze. Together as viewer and performer, we collectively build, rediscover, and undo our ideas of what the trans body has to say about the right to exist and perform. My history as a nationally ranked high school speech competitor, suburban dance studio trainee, go-go dancer, and my Bachelor of Arts in Modern Dance and Media Studies has groomed me to make and perform this work.”
Ashley R.T. Yergens is a transgender dance artist and performer based in Brooklyn with an affinity for Cher and other Not Gay Gay Icons. As a 2018-2019 Jerome Foundation AIRspace Resident at Abrons Arts Center, Yergens ran his first solo evening-length performance prettygirl264264 in November 2018 which was spotlighted in the New York Times. Follow Ashley on Instagram: @transboysdancetoo
RACHEL PRITZLAFF states, “Performance enmeshes truth and illusion, allowing for worlds that were once impossible to be made possible. Wonder and potentiality gives way to action and actuality; the only way we can create the world in which we want to live.”
Rachel Pritzlaff is a performer, educator, and the executive director of two nonprofit organizations. She began her career with Raja Feather Kelly and the feath3r theory as a performer and company manager in 2013 before being named the Executive Director of New Brooklyn Theatre (merged with the feath3r theory) in 2018. As a performer with the feath3r theory, Rachel has originated roles in each of the company’s evening-length works since 2013. In 2016, Rachel founded Rivertown Dance Academy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which she currently serves as Founding Executive Director. Built upon the belief that arts education should be accessible to all, Rivertown Dance Academy provides need-based financial aid to a quarter of its students (www.rivertowndanceacademy.org). Rachel holds a BA with honors in Gender and Women’s Studies and Dance from Connecticut College.
AMY GERNUX states, “I believe in the potential of the butterfly effect, of chaos theory. I believe our choices, on any scale, are seismic and therefore ripple. The ambiguity around whether or not I’m speaking about performance or the profound mundanity of bottlenecking traffic is also the point. I believe my job as a performer is not to show, rather to reflect.”
Amy Gernux, originally from rural Western MA, is a performer and artist living, working, thrifting, making soap and the occasional garment in Brooklyn, NY. She has performed at BAM Fisher, Joe's Pub, Danspace Project, The Kitchen, Judson Memorial Church, The Players Club, New York Live Arts, The Invisible Dog, Roulette BK, JACK, Gelsey Kirkland Art Center and Bates dance festival. Amy has delightedly worked with Bebe Miller, David Dorfman, Jim Findlay and Philip White, Kyle Abraham, Nicholas Leighter, Angie Hauser, Andrea Miller, David Parker, Alex Springer | Xan Burley, and Lisa Race. A collaborator of Raja Feather Kelly since 2013, she works primarily with the feath3r theory collectively interrogating - and celebrating - our shared relationship to human empathy and personal ethics as expressed in (and distorted by) popular culture/media through expansive and saturated works of dance theater and visual media (www.thefeath3rtheory.com). She also performs with NYC-based immersive theater company, Third Rail Projects and has had the pleasure of shooting with Luke Smithers, Beryl Fine, Kate Enman, and Aitor Mendilibar. Amy received her BA with Honors and distinction in Dance (magna cum laude) from Connecticut College where she also studied drawing and sculpture.
BENJAMIN WOLK states, “Art, like love, takes a special kind of work.”
Benjamin Wolk studied Judo for 15 years before discovering dance in college. He started working with the feath3r theory in 2013 at Bates Dance Festival. Ben has appeared in three evening-length works with the feath3r theory.
CANDACE TAYLOR states, “The apex of my journey as a creator and performer is the union of virtuosic creativity, the imperfect nuances of rigor, and the magnetism of human empathy. I’m a curious individual -- always wondering, probing, envisioning -- with thoughts often trapping themselves in my mind. I love that artistic exploration provides promise in the abundant energy of actualizing, physicalizing and vocalizing my trapped intellect. I am wildly turned on by working hard -- by pressing past the shame of inability and failure to uncover, push against, and expand the boundaries of my being to reveal some semblance of artistic expression. Lastly, I am intrigued by the capacity of art to be a tool I can utilize to confront myself and others as we come to grips with the notion that our divine matter, though unique in its manifestation is the same in its potential, power, and responsibility. I am marveled and moved when I experience these concepts at play in artistic works and commit myself to actively integrate them in the work I do as a creative being.”
Candace L. Taylor is an experienced and passionate performer, choreographer, and entrepreneur. She began her dance career over 20 years ago in her native Boston, Massachusetts studying the genres of modern, ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop. She received a B.A. in dance from Connecticut College in 2013. Throughout her undergraduate studies, she honed her craft and dedicated her focus to post-modern dance techniques, West African dance movement, and improvisational movement exploration. As an adult, Candace was able to find the union of her studies, passion, professional pursuits, and faith in the creation and performance of movement as an act of ministry and worship. She sees her art as the ultimate expression of her divine truth and aims to share movement with people all over the world. Candace has been able to work as a dancer with choreographers such as Raja Feather Kelly, Eduardo Ruiz (Mexico), Elving Vanegas (Nicaragua), David Dorfman, Lisa Race, Shani Collins-Achille, Kyle Abraham, William Wigfield, and Tessandra Chavez. She has also worked as a choreographic associate supporting the creative development process for performances of Swing Us Sky Rainbow with Shani Collins-Achille as well as Lempicka (Williamstown Theatre Festival), If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons), and A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horizons) with Raja Feather Kelly. Candace has most notably featured her own choreographic work at the National Theatre of Nicaragua in the completion of a dance anthropology Fulbright research grant. Candace currently resides in New York City where she dedicates her time to teaching movement-based classes, choreographing and performing wherever God sends her to share her talents. Candace finds her purpose in bringing movement to the masses, highlighting its power to transform lives and spread joy to all who are willing to engage.
LAURA SNOW states, "In my collaboration with the feath3r theory I seek to keep the video work continuously in dialogue with the live work, before, after and sometimes during the performance --- and contribute to a process of “unrecycling,” urging the audience to dissect what they see, until what they see is bared down to the bones of its historical sources.
the feath3r theory consciously appropriates pop cultural material that has itself come from America’s costly cycle of appropriation --- where we as a society often pull from and white-wash cultural products of queer communities and people of color. By turning these references on their head, the feath3r theory examines the cliches that are woven deeply into the core of our identities.
Raja will pose the questions, “Is any of this real? Who is our maker? Are we just telling the same stories over and over again?” Using my own methods of pop cultural anthropology, I create video work that answers in two ways: our consumption bonds us together. Or, our consumption simply makes us feel more alone. Some days I am an optimist, and some days, I am not.
In this uncrecycling process we simplify by tearing things apart, but the remnants we find can make us feel more complicated. The video work is never static, and can be emotional, but is always an ongoing conversation...so stay tuned. It is the anomalies we find that give us the freedom to love ourselves, as ourselves."
Laura Snow is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and longtime collaborator of the feath3r theory. Laura’s 2016 short LEAVE-TAKING premiered at DocNYC 2016, won the Online Audience Award at the 2017 Mindscape Film Festival, and was acquired by the media company Conscious Good. Laura holds degrees from Connecticut College and the University of Melbourne and has associate produced documentary series for PBS, the Discovery Channel, Viceland, A&E, and CNN, as well as the 2016 Sundance film, NEWTOWN, and the 2018 Tribeca Festival film, HOUSE TWO. Laura is now the Media Producer for the New York City Ballet.
KATE ENMAN states, "My primary concern is not to produce a breakthrough image. Rather, I am interested in exploring the intimacy and sentimentality of the human condition. I hope my work would be considered documentary in style, with a taste of the fantastical. I relish creating new worlds and capturing the creatures that surround me in this one."
Kate Enman (b. 1987, NYC): Born and based in Brooklyn, Kate is a photography artist. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Time Out New York, and Brooklyn Magazine. Having studied and shot in Tel Aviv, Rome, and New York City, she is currently passionate about analog photography — particulary of the 35mm variety. Kate delights in portraiture, dance and still-life, and has recently started her own studio in Bushwick with her many cats. She continues to look for ways to get work done in the bath.
Aaron Moses Robin
AARON MOSES ROBIN states, "The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Everything is Everything."
Aaron Moses Robin graduated from FSU in late 2013. His first job with the feath3r theory was cleaning the floor for their performance of DRELLA in 2014. He was reading a book about Edie Sedgwick by Jean Stein and Raja and he got to talking. Aaron performed in the next work, Color Me, Warhol. Aaron also makes potions, tipples and cocktails for a living at the Top of the Standard.