The SURGE Coastal Community Fellowship is a two month residency program that accompanies Boston Dance Theater's SURGE performance. The program has been designed for a group of BIPOC movement artists residing in coastal communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise. The SURGE Fellowship provides the opportunity for Fellows to reflect on the impacts of local climate events, build on existing narratives of resilience to climate change, and to envision a thriving future for the community through artistic presentation. During six meetings Fellows are guided through a creative art+science+climate activism process designed by Jessie Jeanne Stinnett (SURGE Project Lead & Choreographer), Dr. Larry J. Pratt (Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) , and the BIPOC Core Members of BDT. Fellows will learn about recent trends in Boston-area sea level rise research, Stinnett/Pratt's strategies for art+science collaboration, gain access to resources for climate activism and continued learning through the Climate Reality Project (founded by former US Vice President and Climate Activist Al Gore), and will have the opportunity to share their artistic contributions alongside Boston Dance Theater's performance of SURGE.
The Boston Foundation has provided support to BDT to launch the pilot SURGE Fellowship in East Boston in Spring 2022, in partnership with The Trustees of Reservations.
The SURGE performance is a participatory dance work by BDT of approximately 45 minutes in length. Audience members mingle with performers and a scientist to witness dance and engage in dialogue about the climate crisis, current sea level rise science, and coastal impacts to come. The work was initially funded by the Boston Dancemakers Residency award in 2020, but the creation was cut short by COVID-19 cancellations. In partnership with The Trustees of Reservations, SURGE will premiere in East Boston at Pier’s Park in July 2022 with a subsequent presentation at deCordova Sculpture Park in late summer 2022.
2022 SURGE FELLOWS
MARIA SERVELLÓN is an award-winning filmmaker, multimedia artist, educator, and arts advocate from Boston, MA. She received her BA in Studio Art from UMass Boston, and her MFA in Film and Media Art from Emerson College. Her focus is film and digital media, including projection, installation, photography, and design. Maria's work often explores synesthetic relationships between art, music, and dance within identity formation. Maria's work has been exhibited and screened in Massachusetts, New York, California, Oregon, the UK, and Mexico thus far. One of her most lauded works to date is the magic-realist short film, Hyphen (2018).
In recent years, she was named one of 2018's "Latinos 30 Under 30" by El Mundo Boston; a 2019 New England Film Star Award finalist; a 2020 Amplify Latinx "Latina Leader" and a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Young Leader honoree; and has won grants, fellowships, and residencies from the Mayor's Office Of Arts & Culture, Boston Arts & Business Council, Boston Public Schools, Danza Orgánica, and Mass MoCA.
A Boston-based trauma informed, culturally responsive, kinetic storyteller, JENNY OLIVER is inspired by the transformative power of movement to educate, heal, and connect. An enrolled member of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, her experiences as an African American person of Cape Verdean/Native American heritage inform her creative process. She is a professor of dance at Tufts University, Emerson College and Mount Holyoke College. Her choreography has been presented at the Boston Center for the Arts, the MFA Boston, Mark Morris Dance Center, Tufts Arts Galleries and upcoming she will be presented at WBUR’s CitySpace, One’s to Watch Series. In 2020, utilizing a holistic approach, she developed a civic engagement residency with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics/Office of Budget Management. When she is not teaching or choreographing she is a performer with Roots Uprising under the Artistic Direction of Nailah Randall-Bellinger.
VERONICA ROBLES is a Mariachi singer, musician and Latin American folkloric dancer and choreographer by trade but has become a cultural icon for Latinos in Boston. She has effectively utilized the power of the arts and culture to bring the community together by raising awareness on the importance of diversity and she has empowered the youth by employing them and teaching them about their roots and cultures.
Robles is Co-founder and Director of the Veronica Robles Cultural Center that supports community action and economic growth in East Boston and offers Latin American arts and culture programming and provides jobs for youth. Recently she was honored with the national 2021 Changemakers Award presented by the Institute of Non-Profit Practice. In November 2019 Ms. Robles received the Ohtli Award. This Award is one of the highest and very limited distinctions given by the Government of Mexico. Veronica Robles is a woman of courage and principles; as a cancer survivor she lives her life to the fullest, filled with joy, passion, and love. Her work honors the memory of her only daughter who passed away as a teenager.
NEHA RAYAMAJHI (she/her) is a storyteller, an organizer, and a cultural worker who uses multidisciplinary art to disrupt and build. She is passionate about creating narratives, spaces, and art that revolve around decolonial politics, diasporic nostalgia, and the joys of reimagining anti-oppressive futures. Born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, Neha is currently daydreaming in Boston, Massachusetts.
TORIE WOJICK is driven by her passion for storytelling, whether it's out on the floor, on the ice, or through film. Her love for dance has been constant since the day she could walk (but let's be real, even before that). Torie is also a former competitive figure skater with over twenty years of skating experience. She now works full time in the commercial and film world and still makes time to explore and grow within the dance and figure skating communities. On most weekends she can be found in a contemporary dance class or at a skating seminar. Last year she performed in the annual American Contemporary Skating Festival.
RUKA HATUA-SAAR WHITE began his dance training as a scholarship student with the Miami City Ballet, where he danced for eight years. He received a B.F.A. and M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University and Hollins University, respectively. White has danced professionally with Ballethnic Contemporary Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), Philadanco (Philadelphia Dance Company), Armitage GONE!, and the acclaimed Limon Dance Company. He has appeared alongside such artists as Maya Angelou, Shirley Murdock, and Missy Elliott.
Jessie Jeanne Stinnett
Project Lead, Choreographer
Stinnett is a Climate Reality Leader trained by former US Vice President Al Gore as well as a dancer, choreographer, and the founder and co-artistic director of Boston Dance Theater (BDT). Her current project, SURGE, is created in collaboration with ocean scientist Dr Larry J. Pratt of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the BIPOC dance artists of Boston Dance Theater. SURGE addresses the crisis of sea level rise, and the role that arts + science collaboration can play in creating a sustainable future.
She received a BFA in Dance Performance from The Boston Conservatory and an MFA in Creative Practice: Dance Professional Pathway from Trinity Laban Conservatoire, in conjunction with Independent Dance/Siobhan Davies Dance. Most notably Jessie has performed for the Metropolitan Opera, Tate Britain (UK), Prometheus Dance, Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (Vienna), The Boston Baroque Opera, and Bard College’s SummerScape Festival.
Her choreographic work has been described by Hannah Chanatry of WBUR as “conceptually driven performance that unpacks the complexities of being female, and pushes the academic boundaries of choreography” and has been sustained in part by grants from The Boston Foundation with support from The Barr Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, Assets4Artists at MASS MoCA, and Fidelity Charitable.
Some of Jessie’s recent choreography commission credits include: Boston Ballet School, Dean College, Keene State University, Providence College, Endicott College, Goethe-Institut Boston, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, The Trustees of Reservations, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and Emmanuel Music. She is the recipient of the 2020 Boston Dancemakers Residency grant award and was the 2020 Choreographer in Residence at Boston Center for the Arts and Boston Dance Alliance.
Dr. Larry J. Pratt
Lead Science Collaborator
Dr. Pratt is a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds a B. S. and M. S. from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Pratt’s research interests include theory and modeling of ocean and marginal sea circulation and mixing, mesoscale and submesoscale instability and turbulence, sea strait hydraulics, abyssal circulation in deep canyons, and the use of dynamical systems and chaos theory to understand mixing and stirring at various scales.
He has collaborated on a number of dance, photography, and ocean science projects and public workshops in Boston and New York with choreographers Riley Watts, Courtney Peix, Jody Sperling, Mariah Steele, Alissa Cardone and Jessie Jeanne Stinnett. His extended arts and science projects have been presented at the Boston Science Museum, New Bedford Art Museum, Keck Futures Foundation (Washington, DC), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Boston Arts Academy, often with support from the National Science Foundation.
The SURGE East Boston Fellowship is part of an intended multi-year project lead by Stinnett to engage multiple coastal communities in the New England area that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise.
Want to work together?
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