Mar 24, 2021

La MaMa LiveTalks: Take 15

Hosted by Ryan Leach

Stefanie Batten Bland, Rena Butler, Maleek Washington

a black arrow pointing downward

La MaMa presents La MaMa LiveTalks, conversations with artists, activists and thought leaders from around the country and around the world who join in discussions about art and life in times of crisis.

This conversation follows how choreographer and film maker Stefanie Batten Bland is moving through the pandemic with her company, her commission and in her new role as Casting and Movement Director for Emursive Productions to question casting biases.

Bland invites two friends and colleagues to join in a discussion about casting and performer biases pre-COVID and now. The virus and the racial/justice movement no longer allows the industry to hide in plain sight with its stereotyping and tonight we discover how SBB and guests Rena Butler and Maleek Washington ensure new habits reflect our new lives as our industry comes back better.

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Headshot of Stefanie Batten Bland

Jerome Robbins awardee Stefanie Batten Bland is an interdisciplinary global artist who interrogates contemporary and historical culture, she situates her work at the intersection of dance-theatre and site-sympathetic installation. 2020 commissioned artist by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Duke Performances, Oxford University, and 2019 fellow at Center for Ballet Arts at NYU, Batten Bland is also currently a choreographer for American Ballet Theatre's inaugural Women's Movement Initiative. She created Company SBB in Paris in 2008 and established it in New York City in 2011, when she was in residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center and began her current residence at University Settlement. Regularly produced by LaMama Experimental Theater, she premiered her latest live work "Look Who's Coming To Dinner" at La MaMa in fall 2019 for FIAF's Crossing the Line Festival. She received her MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College, is Assistant Professor at Montclair State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, and lives in SoHo with her family.

Headshot of Rena Butler

Rena Butler is a dance/choreographic artist from Chicago, IL. She trained at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, studied overseas at Taipei National University of the Arts, and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. A few companies she has danced for include Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Abraham.In.Motion, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, David Dorfman Dance, Manuel Vignoulle/M-Motions, and currently, an Artistic Associate for Gibney Dance Company in NYC. Her choreographic work includes BalletX, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Boston Dance Theater, The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, CHTV Stories in Switzerland, a dance film for Third Coast Percussion in collaboration with Dev Hynes/Blood Orange, The Ailey/Fordham School, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, and more. Butler served on the consortium for Chicago Dancemakers Forum, and co-directed DanceLab--a free, choreographic course for local Chicago teens, where the students of varying socioeconomic backgrounds were able to find commonality in creation. She currently serves as a dance and choreographic mentor for young, aspiring artists for the Pointe People Mentorship Program. In 2019, Rena was the recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Award for Choreography.

Headshot of Maleek Washington

A native New Yorker Maleek Washington is a performer, choreographer, and teaching artist at Broadway Dance Center. Previously Maleek has worked with Sia, Kyle Abraham, Rihanna, ASAP Rocky and currently a collaborator with Camille A Brown and Dancers. With multidisciplinary, experiential performance works that investigate the people, practices, and spaces shaping Washington's black identity, he is proud to present his art in 2017 at the Boston Dance Festival, Pepatian and BAAD!, Periapsis Dance and Music Noesis, and at the legendary Movement Research at Judson Church in Spring 2018. Washington is also a 2017-18 Dancing While Black top 10 choreographic finalists. Gibney granted Mr. Washington a evening length show in 2019.

La MaMa LiveTalks


La MaMa LiveTalks are conversations with artists, activists and thought leaders from around the country and around the world who join in discussions about art and life in time of crisis. La MaMa will continue to use emerging technologies to create a new venue for artistic expression that questions how art can function and how we as a society can survive challenging periods of history.

Online Happenings


Presented by La MaMa and CultureHub, La MaMa is exploring ways to respond creatively to a situation that is potentially changing how we gather as a community in our theatres. La MaMa is working with CultureHub to provide online streaming of select productions and events on Howlround Theatre Commons.

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