Lela Aisha Jones is a choreographer and performance artist whose work is based in movement and interdisciplinary collaboration. A proud Tallahassee, Florida native, her work intimately and artistically archives lived experiences of diasporic blackness. Her most recent artistic engagements and projects include Revival Walks in The Olney Embrace Project (2020/2021), we all gon’ die into revivals for Red Clay Dance in Chicago, IL (2021), Modupue | Ibaye: The Philadelphia Yoruba Performance Project (2019), and the bottom…Catching Souls in Grounds that Shout…and others merely shaking (2019). Her accolades include a 2015 Leeway Transformation Award, a 2016 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and a 2017 New York Dance and Performance/Bessie Award Nomination. Additionally, Lela proudly serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Brownbody, a St. Paul Minnesota-based ice and stage dance company. Her most influential experiences have been in movement practice with Christal Brown | Inspirit, Barak Ade Sole, Moustapha Bangoura, Edileusa Santos, Anssumane Silla, Sulley Imoro, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Urban Bush Women | Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Nia Love. Further contributions are as a teaching artist, professor, community grounded organizer/curator, and researcher. Lela earned a B.S. at University of Florida, an M.F.A. at Florida State University, a Ph.D. at Texas Woman’s University, and is currently a member of the Bryn Mawr College Dance Program faculty.
Alex Shaw is a Philadelphia-based percussionist, sound artist/composer, cultural producer, and arts educator working in the field for twenty years. Alex is currently a faculty member at University of the Arts and the former Artistic Director for Intercultural Journeys (2014-2020) for which he curated performance platforms for BIPOC artists, designed community dialogues, and led arts education initiatives to promote intercultural understanding and social consciousness through creative practice. He is also a founding board member and lead teaching artist for music education nonprofit LiveConnections/World Cafe Live since 2008. As an independent curator and event producer, Alex has organized drum & dance workshops, film screenings, and performances featuring renowned ensembles from Brazil such as Ilê Aiyê and Balê Folclôrico da Bahia. In 2016, Alex organized Consciência Negra: The Legacy of Black Consciousness in Brazil, a multi-day symposium focused on themes of race, identity, and black consciousness in Brazil and the African Diaspora, culminating with his original interdisciplinary production, The Mandinga Experiment, in homage to Capoeira Angola and its legacy of cultural resistance. From 2017-2019 he served as co-Director for Modupúe | Ibaye: The Philadelphia Yoruba Performance Project, a community-based research and archival project on local Yoruba-rooted performance traditions, funded by Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Alex is the Director of Brazilian ensemble, Alô Brasil, and was a section leader in the award-winning Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra for over a decade, collaborating with tabla master Zakir Hussain, hip hop dance legend Rennie Harris, and kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko among others. Intercultural, interdisciplinary collaborations and compositions merging diverse percussion traditions, vocal textures, field recordings, and digital imagination encompass his current artistic focus. Alex holds a BA from Swarthmore College, and an MFA from the World Percussion program at California Institute of the Arts under the guidance of mentor Randy Gloss.