MADC presents Collective Thread

MODArts Dance Collective (MADC) presents Collective Thread provides a voice and a platform for artistic self-impression to those women/womxn identifying choreographers of underrepresented ethnic groups within the medium of dance (African, Latina/o/x, Asian, Arab, Native American [ALAANA], MENA, & SWANA). The goal of Collective Thread is to instill artists with the necessary tools to take on leadership roles in an effort to increase diversity, inclusion, and gender equality in the dance field. 

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Photo Caption: The headshots of 6 BIPOC womxn choreographers presenting work on March 11th (clockwise: Ashley Pierre-Louis, Basma Arfaoui, Makayla Peterson, Fang-Ting Yeh, Monica Shah, & Arielle "seria" Crook).

868 Irving Street

Choreographed by: Makayla Peterson


Performed by: Samara Byrd, Wren Coleman, Janel Mitchell, Makayla Peterson, Bria Pitts, Tiana Sanders, Surya Swilley, Jada Wade, Seandé Wynter, & Asha Yates


Music: Point Fortin Iron Giants- #1, #2 & #3; Kes x Scorch Bun It x Lira- Soca for Love; Johanna Chuckaree- Savannah Grass; Kes- Savannah Grass

Makayla Peterson is a 2020 graduate of Temple University where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, with a minor in Digital Media Technologies. Makayla is the Founder and Artistic Director of Monét Movement Productions: The Collective (MMPTC) founded in May 2020. By sharing stories that are personal, social and/or cultural in nature, we represent the collective and the world around us. By promoting the fusion of traditional and non-traditional dance forms, self-individuality and equality MMPTC strives to create a safe space for dancers and audience members who seek to be a part of and witness transformative performances.

What or Who inspired/motivated you to start choreographing? I was inspired to start choreographing at a young age. Attending performing arts schools and summer intensives enabled me to see a variety of works by prestigious choreographers that often left me in awe. I felt the true art of being a choreographer is being able to express and articulate your voice in a way that can connect with audiences and make them feel something. Choreography to me is about knowing you have a story, experience or idea to express and creating that narrative within the body. Dancing was always my way to express my feelings in a way that I could not with words. Although inspired at a young age, I did not begin to tap into my choreographic voice and power until about 16 years old. I found that being able to generate my own movement and create stories gave me a sense of empowerment and belonging in the artistic world. My artistic and choreographic voice became stronger and more dynamic as layers were added through continued training and life experiences. As an artist, a goal of mine is to display the versatility of the dancing body by portraying a wide variety of styles. As a dancer who has trained in a plethora of styles, I believe it is important to notice the connecting factors within techniques and how characteristics of one genre can aid in the execution of another. My choreographic voice is constantly changing as I continue to grow and that is something I will continue to explore.

What is your creative process? With every work I create, my creative process is different. ‘868 Irving Street’ is personal as it is a reflection of the Trinbagonian culture that raised me and made me who I am. This piece was created from a place of introspection as I reflected on the elements that exist in our celebrations of J’ouvert and Carnival. For this work, I was first drawn to the story I wanted to tell. I chose to enhance the joy, happiness, and revelry that exist when engaging in these cultural celebrations. To best portray these elements, I found inspiration in the music as that is the driving force and connective tissue. I created the choreography through improvisation to a variety of different soca songs before solidifying it to the songs selected for the work. For movement, I asked myself the question- How do we move and dance at J’ouvert and Carnival and how can I translate that dynamic and energy into a space that honors both traditional and nontraditional dance forms? I incorporate authentic Caribbean movements that trace back to the African roots of the region and as well as common moves performed fluidly by almost everyone who partake in the celebrations. This in combination with modern and contemporary movement enabled the work to create a fusion of dance worlds. I constantly pushed myself to deconstruct and adapt these moves to reflect this fusion and place emphasis on the similar techniques and ways of moving between traditional and non-traditional dance forms. An aspect that I also felt was important to enhance was community and inclusivity as thousands of people of Caribbean and non-Caribbean descent attend J’ouvert and Carnival, not only in Trinidad and Tobago but Carnival celebrations all over the world. To do this, we utilized vocals and call and response throughout the piece. Overall, this creative process was driven by the authentic and indigenous representation of the Caribbean dancing body and continuing to proliferate the culture.

Piece Description: ‘868 Irving Street’ is Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, from sunrise to sundown. We wake to J’ouvert, driven by riddim sections and melodies of bass. The interlude basks in the love and unity ingrained in Caribbean culture. We close with a beautiful embracing of our culture through costume and movement.

Social Media Handles: Instagram & Facebook - @mmp.thecollective


Choreographed & Performed by: Basma Arfaoui


Music: Mix created by Basma Arfaoui


Basma Arfaoui was born in Tunisia and grew up in France and Senegal. She is an artist, multidisciplinary and with a very atypical background, life coach, Naturopath, Massage Therapist, dance therapist and energy therapist. She started to dance oriental dance, but also to bathe in the Congolese musical rhythms. She works on her own technique of fusion between African dances, oriental dance and Berber dances, and a walk that is based on the treatment of body and mind, emotions, and is inspired by the sacred rituals of the black and native tribes of the world as well as Sufism.Now she work on African and Amazigh heritage,and a form of social and activist art.

What or Who inspired/motivated you to start choreographing? What pushed/ motivated me to choreograph is my need to express my own emotions, ideas and thoughts through my body and also to embody them as I feel them, and also to have the opportunity to merge the different traditional dances, for example those of my country, with those of sub-Saharan Africa, moreover the dance is the most poetic way to transmit a message, and it is a universal language. It is also the need for freedom ... to be free of my body and my thoughts.

What is your creative process? My creative process is based on the observation of society, I do a lot of philosophical research and reading, then I start to imagine the movements, the space, the costume, I also do anthropological readings, and nature inspires me a lot, for example the 4 elements, apart from that, dance is a healing process for me, and I create often after having also made an introspection and a kind of internal spiritual journey...

Piece Description: When words can't express what we feel, there is still dance... Here's a little film I edited myself, it's the first time I do it :) and I filmed myself, of a dance that I called "Suffoque" which expresses, a suffocation, a disgust, the feeling of injustice, an internal rage, a bitterness, a need to breathe, an anger against what happens in the world... RACISM and sexism A vision on the society which is suffocating but which is suffocating itself... A dance inspired by butoh and also Afro-Contemporary dance...


Social Media Handles: Instagram - @ibib_b.souma, Facebook - Basma Arfaoui

Who Says

Choreographed by: Fang-Ting Yeh


Performed by: Ricardo Barrett & Fang-Ting Yeh


Music: Song On The Beach/ Arcade Fire (Movie "Her" by Spike Jonze)


Fang-Ting Yeh(Taichung, Taiwan), graduated from the National Taiwan University of Arts in 2015. In the same year, Fang-Ting joined the Body Expression Dance Theater and performed with Odyssey Dance Theatre in Singapore. In 2017, Fang-Ting choreographed a solo piece to her student who won the National Student Dance Competition in Chiayi, Taiwan. In 2018, Fang-Ting 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 pieces “Heretic” with Graham 2 at The Joyce Theater. In 2020, Fang-Ting performed for EFSD (emergency fund for student dancer) at The Ailey School.

What or Who inspired/motivated you to start choreographing? This work I choreographed and dance in, "Who Says" was inspired and created to remember those who have touched and influenced my life.

What is your creative process? I chose gentle and circular movement to show that I'm grateful and respectful. Using different angle to show the space and timeline.

Piece Description: In my life-time, I have met & will meet many people. Some of these people will stay with me for a short period of time and others may stay a little longer. ... No matter how long a relationship may last, when I allow a person into my life their existence will inevitably bring meaning.


Social Media Handles: Instagram - @fangting_nyc, Facebook: FangTing Yeh

Introduction & Recognition of the Create | Share | Inspire Award Recipient: Sheila Rohan


Choreographed & Performed by: Arielle "seria" Crook

Music: "The Universe Wakes Up" by The Comet is Coming

Arielle “sereia” Crook, native to Atlanta, Georgia, is an alchemist + interlocutor. As an artist and scholar, sereia bridges the scientific and pragmatic with the esoteric and metaphysical. sereia’s growing body of work investigates tropes of Afro-diasporic healing traditions, cosmologies, and movement practices. She uses an interdisciplinary approach to her experiments with texture, language, and color expressions, incorporating important themes of ancestrality and sacred encounters with Nature. Arielle's story-telling techniques are essential to an ongoing integration process that centers Black healing primarily through visual arts and corporeal embodiment.

What or Who inspired/motivated you to start choreographing? My body is my oracle. I draw maps and figures, bridging and expanding. My younger self began her choreographic journey on playgrounds and later grew to choreographing pieces for her friends at her dance studio. Here, I pay homage to the past and the future/now.

What is your creative process? Nature is one of my greatest mentors. As a descendant of generations of land stewards, I look to Nature to remind me of the stories of my people, the histories of the land. Nature guides me to my healing. My liberation sings from my arms, hands, feet, and legs. When I root to the ground, I am reminded to stand firm like an oak tree and I stretch to the sky and remember the expansiveness of my wings. I am the bridge between and across moments of time, calling Love before me.

Piece Description: "clay/agua" is an ode to freedom. to embodiment of land + sea. to Nature, transformation + love.

Social Media Handles: Instagram - @arieesereia, Facebook - Arielle Crook

The Space Between Pain and Healing

Choreographed & Performed by: Monica Shah

Music: Subtle Body, Fila Brazilla

Voices by: Monica Shah, Brian McManious, Sonia Panigrahy, & Michael Okech


Monica Shah is an independent dance artist performing in classical and contemporary Indian styles. Monica has trained in Bharatanatyam for 30 years with complimentary work in diverse movement forms, and toured across North America as a senior member of the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company. She has been selected for national and international residencies for emerging artists in South Asian dance, and has performed as a soloist in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and New York. Monica is also passionate about making mental health care more accessible. She recently completed her doctorate in psychology and provides therapeutic services across the age range.

What or Who inspired/motivated you to start choreographing? My interest in choreographing within Indian contemporary dance stems from living between cultures, and resolves the competing need to identify myself within only one identity. The history of my body’s movements are able to be expressed through the contemporary form, including the stylistic movements in which I have received rigorous training, the diverse movements I have learned through other forms, and the natural movements that belong to my body alone. Choreographing allows me to bring my movement influences together to communicate themes and expressions that come from my lived experience. The process of choreography is artistically stimulating and encourages my curiosity, and it has been a guide in my personal journey towards acceptance and growth.

What is your creative process? I usually begin with a concept that derives from my personal experiences, as well as reflections on the human experience. From there, I often use improvisation to connect with the meaning and feeling of the concept, and to create from a place of presence. Given that Bharatanatyam is rich in movement and meaning, part of my process sometimes includes mining and deconstructing the classical vocabulary to create expressions that are authentic and personal to me. I also tend to have an underlying narrative through which I develop the structure of my piece, as well as my movements and expressions.

Piece Description: Humans have a remarkable capacity for both pain and healing. Psychological struggle is a function of the world that shapes us, and resilience is found by moving through this suffering. Through unfathomable challenges, we persist and even thrive by connecting to our inner wisdom. This piece explores the journey of mental health, and the potential for beauty from pain.

Social Media Handles: Instagram - @monshahdance, Facebook - Monica Shah, Twitter - @monshah


Choreographed by: Ashley Pierre-Louis


Performed by: Kameron Chatman. Marisa Fernandez, & Ashley Pierre-Louis


Music: EXPosed by Plastikman, Warmth by Peter Gregson


Ashley Pierre-Louis is a Miami native. With education from New World School of the Arts and later from Florida State University, Pierre-Louis only began to discover her passion for movement and the human form. Pierre-Louis has been a part of Alvin Ailey’s inaugural Choreography Unlocked Festival under the direction of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Urban Bush Women, and Robert Battle. She has attended the School at Jacob’s Pillow, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, as well as Gaga intensives in Tel Aviv and New York. Ashley hopes to travel the world, perform professionally and inspire others with her passion to move.

What or Who inspired/motivated you to start choreographing? Constantly viewing work by choreographers I am inspired by both motivated and inspired me to start choreographing. I am inspired by female choreographers Bobbi Jene Smith, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Camille Brown, Beth Gill and so many others. These artists’ work highlight individual storytelling and allow for the human to be fully seen in the work. These types of works intrigue me, uplift me, and inspire me to create.

What is your creative process? My creative process usually starts with me falling in love with a piece of music; replaying it time and time again while imagining full length dances to the piece of music in my mind. Then, I step into a studio and improvise to the music, noting thoughts, emotions, physicality's that have come up in my body and more. I will then reflect on the notes I have written, further investigate my notes physically, and start to compose a piece. If I am working with other artists, I usually give a class focusing on tools and aesthetics that have come up for me in my improvisations so the dancers can get acquainted with and physicalize specific movement qualities and aesthetics for the piece. There are also many discussions about individual feelings, themes the work is revealing, character development and more. My creation process also includes playing with movement creation, collaboratively with my artists, creating impro structures, setting material that is birthed from this movement creation and later distorting material that has been created so we can dig deeper in order to find more possibilities.

Piece Description: GOOR is a trio danced by three Women. Inspired by bronze female sculptures by visual artist Ilana Goor, GOOR is a space for these women to take up space; enjoy the pleasures movement can bring. GOOR celebrates the diverse and nuanced energy amongst all BIPOC woman.

Social Media Handles: Instagram - @ashleypierrelouis, Facebook - Ashley Pierre-Louis

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.

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