PRESENTED BY JOAN FINKELSTEIN OF THE HARKNESS DANCE FOUNDATION
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Kayla Farrish

Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures Arts is an emerging company combining filmmaking, storytelling, dance theater performance, and sound score. The company has been commissioned by ODC Theater, Gibney, Little Island, Louis Armstrong House Museum, Danspace, Pepatian/BAAD! and beyond. Her residencies
include Gallim,  Gibney,  BAC, Keshet MSE, BAX , Petronio, among others.  In 2021, she created “Broken Record” with Brandon Coleman (Little Island), co-directed Melanie Charles Y’ll D’nt Care Abt Black Women Film, Saul Williams’/NYLA Motherboard Suites solo, Roster with Melanie Charles (Four/Four), and Martyr’s Fiction Feature Film. She has received recognition like: Bessie- Outstanding Production, Top 2021 Performances, Sundance Uprise Grant and others. In 2022, she collaborates with various artists and festivals.. Kayla is currently a rehearsal director at Sleep No More NYC and adjunct faculty at NYU Tisch.

Photo by Stephanie Crousillat

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Johnnie Cruise Mercer

A 2021 Princess Grace Award Recipient in Choreography, Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a queer-black think-maker; a choreographer, educator, impresario, and social entrepreneur based in New York City. In 2021, Johnnie was nominated for two Bessies NYC Dance and Performance Awards: Outstanding Breakthrough Choreographer, and Outstanding Production (for his choreography/direction on _AShadow Prince. As an educator, he facilitates within the New York Public School system through The Leadership Program, a mentorship-based organization that uses art to foster/cultivate leadership qualities. Johnnie is the founding producer and company director of TheRedProject/NYC (TRPNYC), a multi-disciplinary ensemble of artists dedicated to the study of movement philosophy and its use towards building communal spaces for black/other process, documentation, and investigation.

Photo by Tony Turner