Apr 15, 2022
Apr 17, 2022

Shared Evening: Johnnie Cruise Mercer + Jesse Zaritt

Johnnie Cruise Mercer

Jesse Zaritt

a black arrow pointing downward

Johnnie Cruise Mercer’s to land somewhere unfelt is a three nightjourney built as a coming out ceremony, a reconciliation between Mercer’s personal embodied history and developing philosophical voice. About this work, Mercer has said: “I am interested in moving through time, allowing myself to get lost, and then publicly landing on a statement about free being-hood. To land somewhere unrecognizable, that’s my goal—to land somewhere unfelt, make a statement and decide to move on from it, a marathon of forever becoming.” to land somewhere unfelt marks the fifth formally presented volume within Process memoir 7: Volumes on Black Philosophy, Othered Possibility, and Freedom (through Rest, Unrestricted Thought thus Imagination).

Jesse Zaritt’s No End of Detail (III) is organized as a series of bodybuilding and body-dissolving rituals that attempt to both make and unmake a self. Zaritt is driven by the mutability of tissue—muscle, bone, blood, organs, and nerves—encased within sonic and textual artifacts of an Ashkenazi American Jewish life. The work is an exercise in how dancing and drawing materialize the radical instabilities of figuration. Choreography, performance, costume, text, and sound design are by Zaritt. 

Photo of Johnnie Cruise Mercer by Tony Turner
Art by Jesse Zaritt

Recently acknowledged as a 2021 Princess Grace Award recipient in choreography, and nominated for two 2021 Bessie Awards in dance and performance, Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a queer Black think-maker, freelance performer, educator, and social entrepreneur based in New York City. As the company director and lead producer of TheREDprojectNYC, his processes/work has been shared and/or hosted by 92Y Harkness Dance Center, Gibney, Dixon Place, Danspace Project, The Fusebox Festival, BAAD!, Mana Contemporary, La MaMa, Abrons Arts Center, and most recently at The Clarice Performing Arts Center’s The BlackLight Summit. As an educator, Mercer facilitates within the New York Public School system through The Leadership Program - a mentorship-based organization that uses art to foster/engage restorative justice, and motivate the true empowerment of self. Mercer has also been on teaching faculty/a guest artist at the American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, PRATT Institute, NYU Tisch, DeSales University, University of Texas at Austin, Virginia Commonwealth University, The University of Maryland, and Harlem School of the Arts, among others. Mercer is currently on faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. Most recently he has had the honor of being a 2019-2021 Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, a 2020-2021 Ping Chong and Company Creative Fellow, and a 2020-2021 AIR through New Dance Alliance’s Black Artists Space to Create Residency curated by Angie Pittman. Mercer is currently a 2022 Artist in Residence at Center for Performance Research.

Jesse Zaritt's work engages drawing as dancing—a visual and physical practice linked to dreaming, drafting, and materializing futures. His choreographic, performance, and teaching practices research the ways in which excessive, contemplative and resistive dance practices change how movement arises in the world and how dancing participates in processes of social transformation. A series of solo works made between 2008 and 2020 interrogate attachments to Jewish ritual and community, seeking to queer dominant paradigms of familial/national belonging, religion, gender, and sexuality. Zaritt is an Associate Professor at the University of the Arts (PA) and currently works in creative dialogue with Sara Shelton Mann.

La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival


La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival continues to support La MaMa’s commitment to presenting diverse performance styles that challenge audience’s perception of dance by featuring performance/installations, experimental film screenings & public symposiums which address dance artists’ engagement with the current political climate, as well as honoring diasporic histories and legacy, ancestral inspirations and inter-generational dialogue.

Special Event