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a queer fantasy of improvised collaboration where body and land meet ancestry and futurity

Core Dance Presents: TRY

TRY is a performance choreographed by Ishmael Houston-Jones created in deep collaboration with jose e. abad, Snowflake Calvert, Keith Hennessy, and Kevin O’Connor with music by Gabriel Nuñez de Arco and jose e. abad in an immersive installation by Monica Canilao & Kendra Azul~írís and lighting design by GG Torres.

TRY explores what Sadiya Hartman calls, “Acts of collaboration and improvisation that unfold within the space of enclosure.”

The TRY team’s collaborative work circles around the crises and potentials of land, healing, movement, consent, ownership and solidarity. We seek a soft experience where land acknowledgement and fascia can be woven into a single conversation. Where bodies are energies and powers at the same time, always entangled within the ecologies from which they emerge.

This performance will take place at The B Complex on March 18th and 19th. Pre-registration for all events is strongly encouraged, registration at the door will be accepted as capacity allows. Community support for the following events are made possible by the support of 7 Stages and Alternate ROOTS.
March 18th at 7:30pm: Performance at The B Complex
Join us at Monday Night Garage after the performance for a schmooze & social with the cast & crew!

March 19th at 1:30pm: Workshop with the TRY Artists
  • Admission: Free (discount code for TRY performances will be offered to registrants)
  • Click to Register
March 19th at 7:30pm: Performance at The B Complex

Performance attendees must wear masks for the duration of the event.

Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 48hrs. of the event will be required at check-in. For Covid-19 testing resources please visit

Read About TRY In the Press:

Writing By Claudia La Rocco

The TRY Artists & Collaborators

Choreography by Ishmael Houston-Jones in close collaboration with jose e. abad, Snowflake Calvert, Keith Hennessy, and Kevin O’Conner

Music by Gabriel Nuñez de Arco with jose e. abad

Visuals including set, costumes, and props by Monica Canilao and Azul-Irís

Additional Costumes by Jack Davis (sequin ponchos) and Laura Hazlett (shorts)

Prerecorded Poem: Rewind My Body by DARKMATTER

Production: Alley Wilde and Keith Hennessy for Circo Zero

jose e. abad (they/them) is a multidisciplinary performance artist, DJ, and curator based in unceded Ramaytush Ohlone Territory. Born in Olongapo City, Philippines to a Filipina Mother and an Afro-Carribean U.S. Naval Soldier, their work explores the complexities of cultural identity at the crossroads of gender, sexuality, class, and race in the United States. Through dance theater, sonic and visual experimentation, they unearth lost histories that reside in the body, that the mind has forgotten and dominant culture has erased.

Snowflake Calvert (Yaqui, Raramuri, and Tzotzil Mayan heritage) is a Two-Spirit artist who serves as the President of QUIL - Queers United for Intersectional Liberation. She produces queer events throughout California and Oregon that allow her to curate a vehicle for political, social, and cultural activism through the artistry of her radical queerness. In addition, she is a professional dancer, teacher, and entrepreneur. She was a member of The Haus of Towers, is affiliated with the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Powwow, teaches decolonization through movement workshops, is the former owner/director of The Dance Zone Studio, hosts Two-Spirit talking circles, and is currently expanding her BIPOC collaborative work of "Seeds and Sequins" with Europa Grace.

Keith Hennessy, is a frolicker, imperfectionist, and witch working in the fields of dance, performance, activism, affordable housing, and teaching. Raised on Atikameksheng Anishnawbek lands in Canada, living in Ramaytush Ohlone lands (San Francisco) since 1982, Keith tours internationally. Hennessy’s work is interdisciplinary and experimental, motivated by anti-racist, queer-feminist, and decolonial movements. He engages practices of improvisation, ritual, collaboration, play, and protest to respond to political crises and intense feelings. Hennessy directs Circo Zero, co-founded the dance/culture spaces 848 and CounterPulse, and was a member of Sara Mann’s Contraband, 1985-1994. Awards include Guggenheim, USArtist, NY Bessie, and Isadora Duncan Dance Awards and residencies at McDowell, Djerassi, Yaddo, MANCC, Kampnagel, Impulstanz, and Regards et Mouvements. Keith teaches experimental approaches to dance, performance, history, ritual, and healing at dance festivals, universities and independent studios internationally. 2021 gigs include Homo Novus Festival (Riga), ONCA Gallery (Brighton), Ponderosa (Germany), University of Hawaii, CORE (Atlanta), as well as BOFFO (NY) with TRY. With a focus on the politics of relationships, Keith has negotiated shared power with Ishmael Houston-Jones, Snowflake Calvert, Brontez Purnell, Nathaniel Moore, Peaches, Meg Stuart, jose e abad, J Jha, Annie Danger, Ryanaustin Dennis, Dohee Lee & Laterna, Sara Shelton Mann, and Gerald Casel.

Ishmael Houston-Jones’ improvised dance and text work has been performed world-wide. Drawn to collaborations as a way to move beyond boundaries and the known, Houston-Jones celebrates the political aspect of cooperation. Houston-Jones and Fred Holland shared a 1984 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Cowboys, Dreams and Ladders, which reintroduced the erased narrative of the Black cowboy back into the mythology of the American west. He was awarded his second “Bessie” Award for the 2010 revival of THEM, his 1985/86 collaboration with writer Dennis Cooper and composer Chris Cochrane. In 2017 he received a third “Bessie” for Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other Works by John Bernd. In 2020 he received a fourth “Bessie” for Service to the Field of Dance. Houston-Jones is the DraftWork curator for works-in-progress at Danspace Project in New York. Also at Danspace, he curated Platform 2012: Parallels which focused on choreographers from the African diaspora and postmodernism and co-curated with Will Rawls Platform 2016: Lost and; Found, Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now. He has received awards from The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and United States Artists.

Gabriel Nuñez de Arco is a visual artist, composer, sound engineer, lighting designer and DJ from Oakland, CA (Chochenyo Ohlone land) with roots in La Paz, Bolivia (Aymara territory). They have performed and provided technical support at events across Australia, Bolivia and the United States with a focus on queer DIY dance spaces. Their work explores questions of belonging as a queer diasporic person, the contradictions of ancestral reverence in a body with a colonized bloodline, and the (re)formation of decolonized histories as a pathways to a decolonized future.

Kevin O’Connor is a multidisciplinary artist working as a dance improviser, circus artist, and installation artist from Ontario, Canada, and now based in the Bay area. He is involved in a decade-long artistic collective exploring participatory de-colonizing performances within polluted watersheds in Ontario. Their collaborative art-making explores practices of togethering across radically different sense-abilities.

Grisel Torres / gg (they/she) is a lighting and sound designer, dj, energy and body work practitioner based in Ohlone Chochenyo Territory. They studied Light Design, Stage Management, and Props Design at SFSU’s School of Theatre and Dance and has been a staff lighting designer, carpenter, production manager and venue manager for various theatre companies in the SF Bay Area. gg is currently a freelance lighting and props designer for live and filmed movement-based works. She has established her own style of empathetic-intuitive-adaptive improvisational lighting scores. They see the stage as an altar and light design as a guiding ritual towards catharsis. As an artist and healer, the intention is to open and safely close portals for whole healing and a chance to dance with ancestral relatives. This practice of art ritual healing is also found in gg’s sound and energy work explorations.

Kednra Azul~Irís (they//them) Visions  from Luminous non-human~centric Space, as their Vibrant Core Intentions  :: Loves Evoking Visceral Spirit & Body Realizations ((Ideally Accessing as many Senses as Possible!)) Azul  Weaves Mediums ~ Tangible, Sound Waves, Water, and Digital; with Feelings and Messages of Divine Textural Storytelling :: often Depicting  Ephemeral Imaginative Spaces //&\\ Sensations. They Playfully  Embody and Reflect Experiences of Being “Between Realms”. An Example  such as :: Familial yet Delicate Spaces Between  ~<<Wake>>~ <<Dreaming>> ~ <<Sleep>>~  ::  They find the most Joy in Illuminating Mystic Qualities of Earth  Elements, Spectrum of Colors, Lights, Mythologies & Personification.  Azul’s Patterns of Practice & Communication  are made with Hopes of Facilitating Safer Spaces, Nurturing Gentle, yet  *Profound* Connectivity. When Referencing Human Forms &  Experiences, their Deep Roots of Visioning Consistently Reveals Themes  of::  Unconditional Love , Honoring Ancestors,  Micro/Macro Cosmic  Perspectives ~ They are Inspired Allways with Expansive Languages of  Vibrant Essence, Uplifting Collective Web Networks & Community  <3

Monica Canilao has deep investment in ideas surrounding home, community, and the passage of time. These themes are delicately interwoven into her daily life and throughout her art practice. Fascinated with the imprint people leave behind, Canilao creates a visual record from salvaged objects and weathered images. Her work spans from massive paper and fabric structures, site-specific installations, and murals to meticulous paintings, mixed media works, jewelry constructions, and sculptures. Through her practice and collaborations she attempts to create a visual vernacular that resonates beyond verbal and individual differences. Her vast body of diverse work compiles a living history, creating a narrative that weaves her experiences with physical remnants of past lives. Monica is a Bay Area native and is currently based in Oakland, California. She has played a vital role for over two decades in the San Francisco Bay Area DIY and mission school art scenes and beyond.

The TRY Crew

Stage Manager - Alley Wilde

Sound Designer - Gabriel Nuñez de Arco

Lighting Designer - Scott Wheet

Assistant Lighting Designer - Gregory Catellier

Technicians - Rochelle Riley, Christian Skibinski, Chandler Lakin, Jada Willis

Front of House - Patsy Collins, Indya Childs

Usher - Ashlee Schroeder

Videographer - Felipe Barral

Event Security - Delaine Williams


Beacon Dance - sprung floor, sound system, marley & studio space

GG Torres, Kanyon Konsulting, Peekaboo, Sara Shelton Mann, Jesse Hewit, Stephanie Hewett,Vallejo Gantner, Alex Romania, Ainsley Tharpe, Robbie Sweeny, Jenny Chu, LorenRobertson, Morocco Calvert, Tom O’Toole, Justin Fraser, SWOON/Caledonia Curry, Jack Gray, Ryanaustin Dennis, Praba Pilar, Claudia LaRocco, Dena Beard, Alta FeCollective, and Julia Cortez. Co-presenters, residencies, workshops: Dena and Anthony at The Lab, Kerri and Jason at Saratoga Springs, Faris, An, and Journey at BOFFO/Fire Island, JudyHussie-Taylor at Danspace Project/NY, Martita, Amanda, and Barbara at MELT/Movement Research/NY. Thanks so much.

TRY is produced by Circo Zero and supported by the Hewlett Foundation 50 ArtsCommission, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The California Arts Council, The San Francisco Arts Commission, MAP Fund, The Boffo Foundation, Danspace Project, a co-commission as part of the Eureka Commissions program by the Onassis Foundation, The Lab, and Z Space’s Technical Development Residency Program funded by the Andrew W.Mellon Foundation.


TRY was created in and near the following Native territories:

Ramaytush Ohlone

Chochenyo Ohlone


Eastern Pomo, Big Valley Tribe, Xa-Ben-ana-Po band of Pomo Indians



Muskogee Creek

And others whose names we do not know


As settlers and guests, the TRY project gave donations and land tax gifts to:

Association of Ramaytush Ohlone / Yunakin Land Tax

Sogorea Te’ Land Trust / Shuumi Land Tax

Bloody Island Memorial / Lucy Moore Foundation

Special Guests

Heidi S Howard (Artistic Director 7Stages – Art and Activism Facilitator) (she/her) served as Education Director and Production Manager for over a decade before taking the reins in 2014. She loves creating devised performances, directing new and classic plays, teaching arts-based curriculum, and collaborating with international, national, and local artists. Most recently she kicked off the 40th season by directing 7 Stages founder Del Hamilton in Waiting for Godot and is in development for the season finale HUMAN: A Citizen’s Encounter. Directing highlights include White Woman in Progress with Atlanta-based Tara Ochs, Lauren Gunderson’s The Revolutionists, Suehyla El Attar’s The Doctor, Devil, & my Dad, and Michael Molina’s Mass Transit Muse. She has toured throughout the USA as well as to Israel, The Netherlands, Serbia, and China. Notable collaborators include Joseph Chaikin, Walter Asmus, Dijana Milosevic, Nesa Paripovic, Pearl Cleage, Sean Dorsey, Topher Payne, Eric Ehn, Jim Grimsley, Robert Earl Price, Mondo Bizarro, Anna Tismer, Karolina Spaic, Lydia Stryk, Sarah Gubbins, Scott Turner Schofield, and Del Hamilton.

She is the founder and director of 7 Stages’ Youth Creates (YC), a training and performance program for teenagers creating profound original productions each summer, now celebrating 16 years. The Holland Exchange, an international extension just celebrated 7 years and the Israeli, Belarusian, and Romanian exchanges are well underway. Organizing all education and outreach programs at 7 Stages, her goal is to create a brave space for vital conversation while designing curriculum based in school residencies orchestrating artistic responses to literature by connecting individual’s everyday life to the creative process. Further, her program, Art of Activism is a community dialogue that takes place over a shared brunch discussing difficult topics in society often tied to the season’s productions.  She is an Artistic Associate with Synchronicity Theatre, served on the Board of The Atlanta School, is a National Performance Network representative, and serves on the Theatre at Emory Board. Graduating from Stetson University, she studied directing at the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and the DAH Lab in Serbia. Her love of theatre and continuing urge to collaborate with new artists has allowed her to create, teach, design, produce, tech, and stage manage with many companies and artists such as Moving in the Spirit, Georgia Ensemble, The Object Group, Little Five Points Rockstar Orchestra, the Jamaica Cultural Alliance, Theatrical Outfit, Out of Hand, and angelworks sma. She has received support from TCG, Artslink, the Israel Cultural General and The Netherlands American Foundation to support cultural exchanges; NEA, Turner, Georgia Council for the Arts, the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Fulton County Arts Council to support original productions; as well as from the NEA-Big Read, Zeist Foundation, UPS among others to support education initiatives.

Julie B. Johnson (Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Dance Performance & Choreography at Spelman College - 1830EST: Artists Talk Facilitator) is a Co-Founder/Consulting Editor of The Dancer-Citizen — an online, open-access scholarly dance journal exploring the work of socially engaged artists. Through her creative practice, Moving Our Stories, she uses participatory dance and embodied memory mapping to amplify the histories, lived experiences, and bodily knowledge of Black women as a strategy towards collective liberation for all.


As director of Idle Crimes & Heavy Work (ICHW), an archives-driven dance collaboration with partner organization Giwayen Mata and a team of community visioners, she connects the history of Black women’s incarcerated labor, resistance, and restoration to sites throughout Atlanta's cityscape shaped by this history. She is a 2020-2023 Partners for Change Artist made possible by Alternate ROOTS and The Surdna Foundation. She earned a PhD in Dance Studies at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance, researching meanings and experiences of ‘community’ in West African Dance in Philadelphia.

DeMarcus Akeem Suggs (Alternate ROOTS/Guest Artist for 1830EST: Artists Talk) (he/him/his) is an arts and culture advocate with over a decade of experience in the nonprofit arts sector. A dance artist, cultivator, and arts administrator, his work is fueled by a passion to cultivate and sustain a vibrant, equitable, accessible, and people-centric arts sector. His current role as Resource Synergist & Resident Hype Man (Development Director) at Alternate ROOTS connects his passions: art, activism, and community in service to Southern artists and culture bearers.

Community Partners and Support:

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