Edisa Weeks / DELIRIOUS Dances

Edisa Weeks is a Brooklyn, NY based choreographer, educator, curator and founder of DELIRIOUS Dances. She creates intimate environments that merge theater with dance to explore our deepest desires, darkest fears and sweetest dreams. Described by the New York Times as having “a gift for simple but striking visual effects,” her work has been performed in a variety of venues including Aaron Davis Hall, Alfred University, chashama theater, Dixon Place, Emory University, Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum, Harlem Stage, Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow, The Kennedy Center, The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, The Mermaid Parade, The National Black Arts Festival, Summerstages Dance Festival, and The Yard. She has also performed in swimming pools, senior centers, sidewalks, storefront windows and various living rooms, including living rooms in Berlin, Germany, as part of Haus der Kulturen der Welts 50th anniversary celebration.

Edisa choreographed for the play Novenas for a Lost Hospital (2019) by Cusi Cram, Dir. Daniella Topol, at Rattlestick Theater; and The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker (2020) by Theodora Skiptares at La Mama Theater. Edisa appeared in the movie “Rachel Getting Married”, Dir. Jonathan Demme, and has been on the cover of several magazines including Wired and La Fotografia. She grew up in Uganda, Papua New Guinea and Brooklyn, NY. She has a BA from Brown University, and received a full fellowship to attend New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts where she obtained an MFA in choreography. She has had the joy of performing with Annie–B Parsons Big Dance Theater, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co., Dance Brazil, Jane Comfort, Jon Kinzel, Muna Tseng, Reggie Wilson Fist & Heel Performance Group, Sally Silvers, Spencer/Colton Dance, among others.

She is on the Board of Directors for Movement Research, and been a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts, the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and other funding organizations, and served on the Bessie Committee which recognizes outstanding dance and performance in NYC from 2014-2018. Edisa has taught at the Alvin Ailey School, Bard College, Brigham Young University, Brooklyn Friends High School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Milwaukee University, Princeton University, Saint Ann's High School, and currently is an Associate Professor of Dance at Queens College, where she teaches modern technique, improvisation, choreography and mentors students. In summer 2020 she is teaching a Physical Theater course at Stella Adler Studio of Acting as part of the Self-Generated Theater Intensive.

Visiting Artist | February 25 - March 11th, 2020

3 RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness

New York-based multimedia artist Edisa Weeks came to MANCC for the first time to develop her latest work 3 RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness. During her residency, she engaged in multiple Entrypoints with local organizations, museums, and community members, as well as School of Dance students and faculty.

When it premieres in 2021, the work will be a seven-hour interdisciplinary interactive experience that integrates dance, live music, text, two visual installations, community conversations, and shared meals to examine how America has protected, promoted, and pursued life, liberty, and happiness, and how these rights manifest in the body. During her time at MANCC, Weeks focused on the Liberty section of the work.

3 RITES: Liberty is a solo performance where Weeks is connected like a puppet to objects that have informed the Black experience in America: bible, black dildo, blonde wig, sandals, watermelon, gun, light bulb. She alternates between black face, white face, storytelling, and visceral dance to dig into the pathologizing of African Americans and the foundations of liberty in America. During her MANCC residency, Weeks worked on writing stories for the objects and embodying the stories through movement and songs. As our nation continues to grapple with confederate monuments, fake news, economic stratification, and the lynching of Black people, 3 RITES: Liberty insists on a reckoning with our past and present.

While in residence, Weeks visited the Knott House Museum in Tallahassee, where a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation took place on May 20, 1865. She also attended the Tallahassee Community Remembrance Project's event, "Strange Fruit: From Surviving to Thriving in the Jim Crow South,” which included a lecture by Professor Darius Young on the history of lynching in America, followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Henry Lewis, Althamese Barnes, Doby Flowers, and Kent Spriggs, and moderated by Lorraine Warren.

Weeks and her collaborative team participated in the Invisible Lives tour at Goodwood Museum and Gardens, which focuses specifically on the perspectives of enslaved people. They also visited FAMU’s Meek Eaton Black Archives to see the Komics, Koon, and Klan (KKK) Collection, the Kinsey Family Collection, and the Montague Collection. The team met with Clint Byrd, Executive Director and Curator of the Montague Collection.

Weeks also hosted a Roots Party, to which she invited people to join her in the journey of making 1,865 roots out of paper and twine, while sharing conversations and a meal from Tallahassee vegan restaurant Soul Veg, as part of her commitment to support local businesses owned by people of color. The roots were integrated into the installation and set design for the 3 RITES: Liberty work-in-progress showing at FSU.

In addition to these multiple site visits, Weeks held two work-in-progress showings. The first took place in an outdoor location at the home of wildflower enthusiast Eleanor Dietrich. For this showing, Weeks was connected to the trees and ground surrounding her. The showing gave Weeks and the creative team new insights into the Liberty character, methods for engaging the audience, and ideas for a background sound score. Weeks then hosted a showing in the School of Dance where she integrated a story she wrote while at MANCC, as well as new methods for interacting with the audience. Guests attended from across campus and the Tallahassee community, including Clint Byrd and Doby Flowers, who was FSU’s first African American Homecoming Queen in 1970, and helped initiate the creation of FSU’s Civil Rights Institute in 2018. Creative Advisor James Scrugges facilitated a post-showing discussion about the work, race issues, and representation.

As part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers initiative, Jerome Dent, Assistant Professor of Communication and Africana Studies at Tulane University, joined the residency. Support for the Embedded Writer was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The full work, 3 RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness, will premiere in Fall 2021, at 651ARTS in Brooklyn, NY.

  • Edisa Weeks in residence for <em>3 RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness</em>
  • Weeks and set designer You-Shin Chen
  • Chen and Weeks prepare the set
  • Weeks in full run for collaborators prior to work-in-progress showing
  • Creative advisor James Scruggs and Chen
  • Writer in residence Jerome Dent
  • Weeks tests removal of make-up as part of the show
  • Weeks in rehearsal
  • Roots hang as part of work-in-progress showing set design
  • Community Programs Coordinator Rebecca Fitton (center) with FSU School of Dance students at the<br>ROOTS Party
  • FSU School of Dance students Nyasia Rodriguez, Celine Seiber, Ceylon Seiber, and Kameron Chatman at<br>the ROOTS Party
  • Ilana Goldman, FSU Professor of Dance, Alayna Lee, and Scott Lindenberg at the ROOTS Party
  • Weeks performs work-in-progress showing of <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> in the Black Box Theater
  • Weeks performs work-in-progress showing of <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> in the Black Box Theater
  • Weeks performs work-in-progress showing of <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> in the Black Box Theater
  • Weeks performs work-in-progress showing of <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> in the Black Box Theater
  • Weeks performs work-in-progress showing of <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> in the Black Box Theater
  • Scruggs and Weeks lead post-showing discussion
  • Weeks engages in post-showing discussion with students, faculty, staff, and community members
  • Edisa Weeks at the Knott House Museum
  • Weeks and collaborators visit the Meek-Eaton Black Archives at Florida A&M University
  • Weeks and collaborative team at the Goodwood Museum and Gardens for the Invisible Lives Tour
  • Weeks and collaborative team at the Goodwood Museum and Gardens for the Invisible Lives Tour
  • Audience gathers before the work-in-progress showing on the property of Eleanor Dietrich
  • Audience walks to the site of Weeks' outdoor work-in-progress showing of <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> on the  <br>property of Eleanor Dietrich
  • Weeks performs <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> as a work-in-progress showing outdoors
  • Weeks performs <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> as a work-in-progress showing outdoors
  • Weeks performs <em>3 RITES: Liberty</em> as a work-in-progress showing outdoors
  • Audience gathers after the work-in-progress showing on the property of Eleanor Dietrich

Collaborators in Residence: You-Shin Chen [Set Designer], Jerome Dent [Writer], Sarita Fellows [Costume Designer], Rebecca Fitton [Community Programs Coordinator], James Scruggs [Creative Advisor], Marýa Wethers [Producer]

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


Click to close x