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Move to Change 2021 Program Notes

MODArts Dance Collective (MADC) presents Move to Change is to use dance as a form of social justice and arts activism through the lens of people of color (POC). The goal of Move to Change is to create cultural and gender affirming spaces for artists of color (African, Latina/o/x, Asian, Arab, Native American [ALAANA]), MENA, & SWANA to educate, empower, or illuminate issues that reflects their histories and cultures through their unique and rich movement aesthetics.

5:00PM Concert Screening

Jessica G Thomas Headshot - Selah Gabrie

Incentivize (To The Well)

Choreographed & Performed by: Jessica Gabrielle Thomas

Music: Youwilé by Toto Bona Lokua


Social Media Handles: IG - @selah.gabrielle; Twitter - @SelahGabrielle


Jessica Gabrielle Thomas is a native of Detroit, MI. She obtained a M.F.A in Dance from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Thomas also received a B.F.A in Dance from Wright State University. She currently instructs/assists classical ballet at Christina’s Adult Ballet, The Foundation House, and Juliana's School of Dance. Thomas is also a part time classical ballet professor at Wayne State University. Her choreographic work entitled Mandela/Angelou is featured in Pointe Magazine as editors choice for pointe video of the month.


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance is the essence of what an artist is. It is the language which speaks loudest when all other languages fail to.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

Through creating choreographic works detailing BIPOC experiences, conversations, losses, specifically throughout this pandemic, has created an outlet for me to service urban as well as suburban communities by telling their/our stories. It is within this community that I have had the wonderful honor of being provided the space to journal, create, educate, and present work that is an essence of the rich culture of which I stem from as  well as the wonderful strong/resilient women who have impacted my life. Ultimately, the communities I serve have invested in me so much so that I continue to thrive as an artist even when the pandemic took more than it gave. I am a product of the wonderful communities that have invested in me and thus because of this I am able to give back artistically in a positively significant way. 


Piece Description of Incentivize (To The Well)

My intent of Incentivize is to be a body of work that embodies my experiences of surviving, thriving, coping, through the pandemic of 2020. I began this choreographic concept for “Incentivize” February of 2020, working within the parameters of creating a duet/trio. It has evolved in so many ways over the past year and a half. "Incentivize" is a work that not only causes the artists to wrestle with the concept of division and defining unity; it also invites the audience to engage in answering personal questions within themselves through viewing this body of work. Thus, this piece uses dance as a vehicle to promote awareness, impact change, and draw people closer together even though there may be invisible boundaries between us. This excerpt "Incentivize (To The Well)" is in honor of my godmother and god-grandmother who passed away within four months of one another. I created this solo in honor of them and their essence that has left a beautiful residue within me that emanates through me oftentimes to others.  The beauty of females, the strength of womanhood, the essence of her resilience and identity as mother of all. 

crossing nature

Choreographed & Performed by: Kayla Yee

Film Advisor: Jabari A. K. Holder

Music: A Bit of Gold - Hong Ting

Vocals: Field Upon Field - David Keenan

Social Media Handles: IG - @kaylayeemobility; @kaylayeedance


Kayla Yee practices movement as a building block for communal well-being. She navigates relationships through the body’s wisdom, focusing on the intersection of art and climate justice. With a drama degree from NYU, Yee’s choreography incorporates storytelling to examine the human psyche. Her piece “In 50 Years,” was previously presented in Move to Change, as well as Nasty Women Unite, and NYCFringe. Performance credits: “Hex In the City” (Palmetto Productions), “We’re All Immigrants” (Reaction Dance), “Voyeur: Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec” (Bated Breath Theatre Company), “Tanya’s Lit Clit” (Workshop, Experimental Bitch Presents), and “Check All That Apply” (Sarah Esser, WestFest Dance Festival).


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Rhythmic sharing of the body’s intuition.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

Advocacy for equity and compassion through the art-making process as well as in administrative activities.


Piece Description of crossing nature

“crossing nature” examines the deconstruction of racial and national inequality. When it comes to our impending climate crisis, our one and only Earth-land knows no borders. Previously workshopped with Reaction Dance Company, the piece has been adapted to film for the purposes of this festival.

Kayla Yee Headshot - Kayla Yee.jpg
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868 Irving Street: Paint At Dawn ·Powdah At Dawn·

Choreographed by: Makayla Peterson

Performed by: Makayla Anderson, Wren Coleman, Janyah Harte, Reyanna Myers, Riley Newman, Makayla Peterson, & Camisha Prince

Music: IzWE By Kes, Etienne Charles & Laventille Riddim Section; J’ouvert Morning, Mixed By Arnold Bernard;; Muddy Angels By Treason Clan; 4Kit Rhythm Section

Vocals: ‘Twas the Night Before J’ouvert | Rhonda Charles

Social Media Handle: @mmp.thecollective


Makayla Peterson is a dancer, choreographer, scholar, and artist from Brooklyn, NY. She is a 2020 Temple University graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Digital Media Technologies. She is a 2019 recipient of the Temple University Diamond Research Scholars Grant which has been presented at national and international conferences. She is the Founder & Artistic Director of her dance company Monét Movement Productions: The Collective founded in May 2020. In addition, Makayla is a dancer with Enya-Kalia Creations and CarNYval Dancers, an editorial/administrative intern for Black Dance Magazine, and Program Coordinator for MOVE|NYC|.


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance for me holds a very personal definition and connection. Dance is the purest art form that makes me feel alive. Dance provides a sense of purpose and ability to share my unique artistic voice with the world. I never feel freer or myself than when I dance, whether that be in rehearsal, class, teaching or performing. Dance has been there for me in so many ways and is the love that keeps on giving without asking for anything in return. The spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical release that movement provides me with transcends tangible bounds. Dance is and will always be my first love and I am grateful to be able to have found something I am so passionate about that I want to dedicate my life to it.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

Within this work, I aim to provide an indigenous teaching and movement vocabulary of Caribbean dance forms. I aim to create space for the inclusion of all dance forms to be viewed equally in both traditional and nontraditional spaces. I aim to decolonize an embodied practice that views the Caribbean and the Black dancing body as being overly sexual. By providing proper representation for the culture and its dance forms, the knowledge can be proliferated correctly and accurately. I want to dismantle the idea within academia that only ballet and modern are the foundation of dance and propose that all dance forms in some way, shape, or form are the foundation as they all inform one another. Each dance style possesses qualities, elements, and dynamics that can be seamlessly infused when performing another technique to only add more layers to one’s dancing. I am serving not only the Caribbean community by creating a safe place for us to show our dance forms in all their glory but also welcoming those interested in learning. I want to make the dance form accessible to all communities.


Piece Description of 868 Irving Street: Paint At Dawn ·Powdah At Dawn·

This work tells the story of J'ouvert, a celebration that originated in Trinidad and Tobago, from the perspective of its peoples and those of Trinbagonian descent. With authentic cultural elements such as paint and powder, riddim section, and the flagwoman, we are sharing the quintessential aspects of what makes J’ouvert what it is. Utilizing both African and Caribbean diasporic movements, we are sharing this cultural celebration in its purest form through movement. This dance works to continue to proliferate the Trinbagonian and Caribbean culture throughout the world.

Processing Sugar Notes (excerpt)

Choreographed by: Bernard Brown

Performed by: Christopher Salango

Music: "Absolutions" Max Roach 

Vocals: "Sugar Cravings" Indira Renganathan


Social Media Handles: IG - @bb.moves @renaissancebrown; FB - BBMoves; Twitter - @bbmoves1


Based in Los Angeles, Bernard Brown choreographs for stage, specific sites, film, and opera. In addition to presenting his scholarship on blackness, queerness, and inclusive pedagogy, his choreography is presented widely, including Seoul, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Scott Joplin's opera, "Treemonisha," for Skylark Opera. Performance highlights include a twenty-year tenure with Lula Washington Dance Theatre, David Rousseve, Kamasi Washington, Nike, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Lester Horton Award recipient, he is Assistant Professor of Dance at Loyola Marymount University and a Certified Katherine Dunham Technique Instructor Candidate. The Los Angeles Times has called him “…the incomparable Bernard Brown…”


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance can be defined by movement through space. Spatial movement fosters a sense of

progression. Dance catalyzes social change. Dance is radical. Dance educates while promoting awareness and empathy regarding sociopolitical issues. Dance encourages critical dialogue about identity, cultural representation and belonging. Dance is an archive. Dance sparks dialogue which inspires action, resulting in the action that creates change within our communities.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

Dance sparks dialogue which inspires action, resulting in the action creating change within our communities. Centering Blackness, Queerness, belonging and memory, I am interested in excavating the ways in which art can transform, activate ripples of empathy, and foster healing. Having a fascination between history and the contemporary parallels, I seek to unpack and correlate these connections via personal stories, lived experiences and ethnographic research. As a choreographer, educator and performer, I am interested in work that provides us the space to understand our condition as human beings with more depth and nuance. The body is an archive. Dance can be a container for those archives. It feels necessary and important to document histories that have been undertold or made invisible. Black personhood is nuanced, rich, vast and multivalent. In that way, all of my intersecting identifiers have a home in this work. My community members, my people are at home in this body of work.


Piece Description of Processing Sugar Notes

With notions of desire at its core, this excerpt of “Processing Sugar Notes” examines how health disparities, addiction, and the lasting effects of colonialism continue to infiltrate the lives of the global majority (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) through the lens of the world’s largest crop, sugar.

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Floral Tea

Choreographed & Performed by: Justice Miles

Music: Estate by João Gilberto, Simplesmente by Bebel Gilberto, Alegrías sin Taconeo by El Junco, Ngawe (AtJazz Love Soul Mix [Feat. Wandile] mixed by Mr. Scruff & DJ Spinna, Asia Minor by Machito & His Afro-Cuban Orchestra


Social Media Handles: IG - @justice.miles


Justice Miles is an emerging biracial choreographer, dance artist, and scholar who

received her MFA in Dance/Choreography from the University of New Mexico (2019)

and her BA in Dance from Colorado College (2016). Miles had the opportunity to further

her study of dance by attending summer workshops from flamenco artists Javier

Latorre, Sara Calero, and Fernando Jiménez at the Festival Flamenco Albuquerque in

Albuquerque, New Mexico (2016, 2017) and Ballet Hispanico’s Choreolab summer

program in New York City (2019).


Miles performed excerpts of her work Ink on Cotton, which was a non-linear exploration

of African American history through contemporary dance and flamenco movement

vocabulary, as an emerging choreographer at Dr. K. Meira Goldberg’s international

conference The Body Questions: Celebrating Flamenco’s Tangled Roots at the Fashion

Institute in New York City. After presenting her dissertation research on Carmen Amaya

and Josephine Baker at the international bilingual conference Indígenas, Africanos,

Roma y Europeos: Rítmos Transatlánticos en Música, Canto y Baile in Veracruz,

Mexico, Miles' article "The Modern Synthesis of Josephine Baker and Carmen Amaya"

edited by Raquel Paraíso, Meira Goldberg, Jessica Gottfried, and Antoni Piza, was

published by Música Oral de Sur. Miles recently virtually presented this article at the

International Association of Blacks in Dance Virtual Front Row (moderated by Dr. K

Meira Goldberg) and the New Perspectives in Flamenco History and Research Symposium (2021). Miles recently created the dance film Floral Tea during the Art Gym Denver Create Award Residency (2021).


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

My personal definition of dance is expressing one's soul and spirit through the body.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

I deeply believe dance is for everyone to participate in and perform and that dance is for people of all abilities, colors, shapes and sizes, sexual orientations, and more. The movement I create challenges dichotomies of race, gender and style by creating hybrid movement vocabulary that exists in between identity categories. My dream is to create space for those who feel they don't have space.


Piece Description of Floral Tea

Floral Tea is a healing dance film based on mythological, medicinal, artistic, and historical research on plants. While historically women and flowers seem to have existed hand in hand as muses to man, I was interested in creating dances that stemmed not from depicting a romanticized muse but were about life and healing. As I was reading about Greek mythology and plants, it was interesting that many stories were about people that had turned into plants, sometimes through traumatic experiences or to avoid traumatic experiences. Turning into a plant seemed to become a way of self-protection and/or rebirth. Additionally, the dream expressed in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “What if you Slept?” inspired Floral Tea: “If a man would pass through Paradise in a dream and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, if he found that flower in his hand when he awoke. Aye, and what then?” (Coleridge qtd in McIntyre, 20, Coleridge qtd. in With these ideas in mind, Floral Tea became a healing dance film about a magical tea that transports a woman to a dreamworld where she embodies various plants’ lives. 



Coleridge, Samuel. What If You Slept? The Reader. 16 Jan 2017,


Kirby, Mandy. A Victorian Flower Dictionary: The Language of Flowers Companion. New York, Ballantine Books, 2011. 


McIntyre, Anne. The Complete Floral Healer. New York, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2002.

Waves Of Time

Choreographed by: Fang-Ting Yeh

Performed by: Larissa Terada, Yejin Lee, & Fang-Ting Yeh

Music: Chelsea McGough, Andrian Dominic Walter


Social Media Handles: IG - @fangting_nyc; FB - FangTing Yeh


Fang-Ting Yeh (Taichung, Taiwan) graduated from the National Taiwan University of Arts in 2015. She moved to New York training at Martha Graham School and obtained her certificate of Teacher Training Program in 2019. In the same year, she performed one of Martha Graham’s works “Heretic” with Graham 2 at The Joyce Theater. She participated in the global art project the Human Signs by well-known multimedia artist, composer and guitarist Yuval Avital. Fang-Ting’s soloist choreography “MURMUR_S” was the winner of Open Vision Film Fest First Session 2021. Her dance film “Silent But Not Silenced” won the Best Direction of Black & White Film Festival in 2021.


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

For me, dance is life nutrition. I dance to celebrate all the moments I had. I dance to connect with people who I love.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

As a dancer, choreographer and instructor, I work with different ages and are influenced by many cultures. That is how I get the idea to create and give back to the communities from my experiences.


Piece Description of Waves Of Time

Time passed as people went through. Just like waving come again and again, never stop. Sometimes you feel the connection but sometimes not. When you look back, all the challenges and love you left behind were always part of us. Make us be who we are right now.

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Sweet Child of Mine

Choreographed by: Veronica Cheeseboro, Shoshana Mozlin, Sharayah Spruill, Courtney Stewart, Matthew Ting, Leah Tubbs, & Imani Vieira

Performed by: Veronica Cheeseboro, Shoshana Mozlin, Sharayah Spruill, Courtney Stewart, Matthew Ting, & Imani Vieira

Cinematography by: Alexander Sargent

Music: Black Violin


Social Media Handles: IG/Twitter - @modarts_dance; FB - MODArts Dance Collective


Leah Tubbs, a Birmingham, Alabama native & Harlem resident, studied dance at Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) and the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. She has performed with various dance companies in Alabama, Ohio, California, Texas, and New York. MODArts Dance Collective (MADC), established in 2011 by Leah and Shaun Tubbs, holds space for BIPOC through its choreographic work, festivals, concerts, residencies, & workshops. MADC prides itself on its distinction as a collective as we maintain that the ‘we’ is greater than the ‘me’ and that our primary goal is to establish a sustainable and nurturing community.


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance is the oldest language and form of communication. Movement gifts me the opportunity to honor and celebrate my ancestors and elders whose shoulders I stand while cultivating a bridge for BIPOC artists to be seen and heard as their unapologetic selves.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

We hold space for BIPOC communities to show up as their most authentic selves as a form of resistance. We nurture art as a form of liberation - creating a world where we can be seen and heard as our whole selves, not in constant fear for our lives. MADC is not only a traditional dance company whose season consists of two concerts and a gala. We know firsthand the deficiency of IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, Access) in the dance field and provide open, safe spaces for Black and Brown artists and communities to heal, grow, and thrive through our free residencies, free workshops, festivals, and concerts with cost effective ticket prices so everyone has access to dance that reflects BIPOC culture and histories that resonate with a broader audience.


Piece Description of Sweet Child of Mine

Sweet Child of Mine focuses on the adultification bias of Black girls. The roles and responsibilities of older girls to assist in the upkeep of the house and to be a role model for their younger siblings while outperforming in school and extracurricular activities may be too much for them to handle. The added pressure takes away a child’s innocence and derails her/them of social and psychological development & growth. It forces a girl to grow up before she is/they are mentally, emotionally, and psychologically equipped to do so. 

Sweet Child of Mine explores the dynamics between Black women holding onto the added responsibilities and expectations placed upon them from childhood, as well as how they can reverse the patterns placed on them by allowing girls to be children. MADC feels that this subject matter will resonate with families of Black & Brown communities, as well as educate and expose a broader audience to this ongoing issue that affects the relationship between parents and girls from all walks of life. The goal of the overall audience experience is to provide professional dance accessible to all while sparking dialogue amongst one another when viewing Sweet Child of Mine to begin a positive shift to reverse this ongoing societal issue.

Gratitude & Support​

MADC would like to thank our donors & Patreon supporters: Anonymous (3), Sharon Banks, Paul Brill, William-Michael Cooper, Zoe Correa, Mallory Creveling, Megan Curet, Lindi Duesenberg, Joy Hanks, Sarah Horne, Bri Jenkins, Rachel Kuczynski, Karen & Brian Lowy, Jeffery Martin, Susan Mende, Leila Mire, Jessica Mosher, Sophie Parens, Tanya Patton, Joya Powell, Chatiera Ray, Tammeca Rochester, Nathaniel Rutledge, Harriette Smiley, Laronica Southerland, Charis Travlos, Laura Tubbs, & Monse Valdez.


MADC is a sponsored project through Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Assist us in continuing to be an agent of social change and amplifying BIPOC voices through movement. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation, become a Patreon patron, purchase an item from MADC's Etsy shop, or discover other ways to support the company.


*****This year's Move to Change Dance Festival is made possible by the generous support of Lower Manhattan Cultural Center and its 2021 Creative Engagement Grant.***** 

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