project: ...and to/from the decades of hell.
(Current COMPANY Project)
Choreographic director Johnnie Cruise Mercer leads himself/the company through a four-year self-reflective construction process. Driven by the deconstruction and re-imaging of the contemporary...the now, Mercer/tRpNYC actively engages in the creation of a memory-anthology map, a blueprinting of generational histories that tear into "the decade of hell"- (TIME Magazine), and the decade that follows suite; 2000-2020. The project conjures itself as eight individual process-memoirs (sharings, rituals, and process-performances that respond to space, history, and deeper subconscious remembrances).
"Each process-memoir connects like planets/worlds in a shared solar system- think like the Marvel Universe. You have characters, settings, and even themes that relate to. However they are all connected...maybe not by storyline or seeable conflicts...but as you experience them you start to feel, and notice the connective tissue. You start to realize...this world is pretty vast and is not just what I am seeing in front of me. There's more context. Thats what the process-memoirs are. They are individual responses that ricochet energetically between myself, the artists, and the spaces in which they are created in. Each process-memoir only happens in response to the moment...they are created for the space and in the space they respond to. They are living ideas...meant only to be processed in order to see or understand a greater picture. I am not sure what that full greater picture is...but like the Avenger movies...I will and you will find out as you connect the worlds and the dots. The process memoirs are not works...they are me building towards work...the work...and are not meant to be sold as "pieces". They are pages, accounts, and responses that will build into a larger story, becoming more clear as they are uncovered/discovered."
-Choreographic Director, Johnnie Cruise Mercer
With the southern black queer baptist experience at its base (and the experiences that are consequently called from and around it), The process memoirs, and the material from the four year process, later act as subjective material to construct two docu-epics/thesis works (like the Avengers Movies): "and to the decades of hell: 2000-2010”, and “and from the decades of hell: 2010-2020” , both set to premiere post-election 2020.
The process-memoirs, the epics, and the meta-physical practices (re)lived are perspicacious renderings of our (black-American) past/soon after, active inquisitions on the timely usage/embodiment of the term ‘decolonization’, and a rigorous yet ordained quest towards (re)claiming black physicality in order to prepare for the revolutionary shift towards post-contemporary mindsets.
(Premiere of 'and to the decades of hell: 2000-2010' Fall 2021)
(Premiere of 'and from the decades of hell: 2010-2020' Spring 2022)
Ritual: Process Memoir 1
plunge in/to 534
Fusebox Festival 2018; Austin TX
Plunged into the spirit, the body reacts and finds joy in exhaustion. It clings to the acceptance of weight. Pain becomes the inspiration for continuation. Exhaustion. Sweat. Blood. Your (our) fluids become the call to conjure figures that linger in the darkness. The audience, I, we all are transported into an exorcism, a ritual of containment, of freedom, of war between realism, and deep trance. Our poly-centric origin is given permission to possess us- as our people, we are called upon. Something responds. Deep. Inside, it responds.
An evening length happening/ritual; the project is my attempt to exorcise the societal expectation of the black body on stage and in dance. It is also a conjuring of something deep inside of myself.
"With the closure of the popular club, Club Colours in Richmond, VA I was faced with the deconstruction, and slight erasure of what seemed to be a major sanctuary in my adolescence. A club that acted as a portal to my sexuality, a gateway to my understanding of dance/movement, and a key place where I saw myself (racially, politically, etc), 534 was an initiator of the conversation between my white self, and black self both as a choreographer, and art viewer."
plunge in/to 534" has been created while in residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange as a 2017 Fall Space Grantee, York College as a part of the Cuny Dance Initiative 2017-2018, and also with support from Abrons Arts Center through the Abrons AIRspace Grant Residency Program.
Photo by Marisol Diaz
Austin Cristic Table Award: Best Toured Performance- Fusebox Festival 2018
Process Performance: process-memoir 2
'on the action of black&white'
York College Arts Festival May 2018
"on the action of black&white was a personal experiment of aesthetic choice, dominance, and realizations based on and inspired by dances that I have seen on stage. I was given a large space...a lot of lighting...and a house that I knew I would not be able to fill...here I was able to imagine anything, with a space that a creator would dream of...all I could think about was "the greats or being great". Why could I not think of dance from the viewpoint of my childhood (dancing as a social calling/experience) on stage? How do I quote my multiple compositional histories?"
on the action of black&white became a reflective performative practice that spilled from the stage into reality. Inspired by political images, audience expectation, and personal moments of soliloquy, The ensemble tumbles through familiar environments/modes as they comment on, surrender to, and construct a pre-mature world based on dual opinion, influence, artistic demand, proposition, and instinct.
This work was made possible with support from Abrons Arts Center through the AIRspace Grant Residency Program, the Cuny Dance Initiative as resident artists at York College, as well as with support from RestorationARTS as Choreoquest AIRS 2018.
Photo by Victoria Sendra
Sharing: Process-memoir 3
to ascend past numbness and witness birth.
NYU Tisch's Jack Crystal Theater, June 2018
The earth holds without complaint. It holds. And as we stand on top of this soil, she holds. Take this. Take me, the weight that I carry. she holds my feet. She holds and then she allows. She infuses and then we are rejuvenated. revived.
I, We, are standing forever in youth. then free.
To the earth I give, from the earth we receive.
Oriented around the communal action of renewal, to ascend past numbness and witness birth is a guided meditation towards relinquish, and a ceremonial cleansing towards ephebism, freedom, and queering otherness.
I was given a stage.
"I engaged the space, as if it was my first time making dance...the freedom of making in my living room...but what came of it was not a "work", at least not by my the standard of how we should make work...it was a comment or a deconstruction, feelings unfiltered...I felt forced... why do I have to "MAKE A WORK"...and honestly, it became overwhelming, it became excessive, my feelings and response to the stage became excessive...I realized I'm here. They're here. My past on this stage, any stage. Our past. The audience. Other things. Energies. Histories. We're here. I looked up into the audience, and I realized what I am...I shared my response to histories treatment of my body, our bodies on that stage. It wasn't a work, and I realized...that others did not want to see this reenactment. It was not freedom to them. Selfishly I found freedom though others were annoyed, others cried, got angry....but others responded!"
This work was made in residence during the NYU Summer Residency 2018!
Photo by Scott Shaw