Summer 2022 Run of the Mills residency project by Emily Beattie, U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo, Rosa Weinberg, and Akili Jamal Haynes.
Public Performances at the Mills Gallery
7/21 | 6–7pm: The Shift Show | Performance 1
8–9pm: The Shift Show | Performance 2
9–9:30pm: Panel Discussion & Reception
The Shift Show invites audiences into a new world that rejects technology as we know it. Instead a new kind of power is produced by the catalytic offloading of objects, movements, and words we need to shed. Spoken word poet U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo, dancer Emily Beattie, designer Rosa Weinberg, Akili Jamal Haynes aka CHIBUZO DUNUN, and a mysterious organism playfully guide audiences through a ritual. Our intentions are to shift beyond our realities, empower a new source and encounter new objects, ways of moving, and ways of speaking. In The Shift Show, the powerful exchange between the performers and each audience member transforms the performance into a collective ritual of joy. Together we gather objects, speak in unison, and move. The work is immersive, interactive, and experimental in nature. Heavily based on speculative futures but reactive to current events, The Shift Show is meant to be personally cathartic and communally healing for all.
Choreography by Emily Beattie
Written Word by U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo
Set Design by Rosa Weinberg
Music Performance and Sound Design by Akili Jamal Haynes aka CHIBUZO DUNUN
Produced by Anne Dresbach
Costume design by Heidi Henderson
The work is supported in part by the Live Arts Boston grant from The Boston Foundation. Grateful to the Microsoft Garage in Cambridge, MA for residency and space for project development.
Meet the Artists and Listen to them Talk About Their Project
Behind The Shift Show
Emily Beattie is a Somerville based artist working in multiple disciplines: movement, text, space, film, and interactive media to create performance in many formats. Emily is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for Choreography for 2018. She also received the Boston Foundation’s Next Steps for Boston Dance award and the Live Arts Boston grant, the New England Foundation for the Arts Choreographer’s Fund, and the Somerville Arts Council Fellowship for Performance.
Her experimental performance works have been featured at ICA Boston, Brown University, Ammerman Center for the Arts at Connecticut College, American Repertory Theater’s Oberon Theater, UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance department, The Fowler Museum, Pieter Performance Space in Los Angeles, The Hammer Museum, NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Spoke of the Hub in NY. She has been curated by the following festivals, Imagine Festival at Earthdance, CyberArts Festival, Gloucester New Arts Festival, Design Boston, the Waterfire Festival in Rhode Island, Festival for the Moving Body, at Stony Brook University and The Berkshire Fringe Festival. Internationally, she has performed or exchanged with artists at the National School in Quito Ecuador, Renku Poetry Festival in Kyoto, Japan, as well as the Rhodopi International Theater Lab in Formello, Italy.
As an accomplished performer, Emily has created and toured with David Rouseve’s Stardust and Lionel Popkin’s, Ruth Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. She has also had the honor to perform in the works of Donald Byrd, Simone Forti, Stephan Koplowitz, Jennifer Monson, Sara Rudner, Michelle Boule, and Edisa Weeks. Emily trained in classical ballet in Virginia and holds a BFA from Boston Conservatory. In Los Angeles, Emily studied with scholars and artists in the World Arts and Cultures/Dance department at UCLA to earn her MFA in Choreography.
Emily’s writing, a co-written article “Movement signals and narrative noise: the development and performance of Antennae (v.2)” with Dr. Brian Knoth is published in the peer reviewed International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. She also co-wrote an article for proceedings in the Computer Music and Multidisciplinary Research with Dr. Margaret Schedel entitled “Inscribing Bodies: Notating Gesture”.
U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo is a Zimbabwean American poet, author, speaker, singer, and educator who has performed internationally in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Portugal, and Ireland. She is fiercely passionate about using her voice for women’s empowerment, wellness, diversity & inclusion and the exploration of translation or “hyphenated identities” through her work.
She was featured on “WGBH Suitcase Stories.” Her poetry collection “Soul Psalms”(She Writes Press) was described by David Updike as “written in a fearless female voice tempered with optimism and healing possibilities of love.” In Spring 2018 she was a Keynote at the Naturalization Ceremony at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as well as the 15th Annual Refugee Conference in Lowell, MA. During Women’s History Month she performed in a staged reading at the Next Stage Arts Project in Putney, Vermont for ” Bold Women: Brazen Acts ” amplifying women’s voices written by Rivka Solomon. She was also featured alongside Yo Yo Ma, David Ortiz and many gifted others in the #StandsWithImmigrants : Projections, a series of large scale Boston portraits, projected onto Boston’s urban landscape, to highlight the critical role that immigrants play in our society the kick off happening at the Edward Kennedy Institute.
She is member of the New England Poetry Club, The International Women’s Writing Guild and an advisory board member for Write On The Dot , a community reading initiative in Dorchester, a proud UMASS Boston and Lesley University alum. A passionate Wellness and Fitness Advocate, Marathoner and Rower, U-Meleni has been interviewed on “Basic Black” about Running in the African American Community and the Boston Marathon.
She holds a graduate degree in Education from Lesley University in Multicultural Education and Theatre and a Bachelors Degree in Social Psychology from UMASS Boston. An accomplished and dedicated educator with over 10 years of experience facilitating holistic health and wellness education/promotion incorporating the Arts ( spoken-word, hip-hop, film), violence prevention, empowerment/life skills, and social-emotional well-being & long-term behavior change in youth and adults. She has taught over 2,500 students through 500 workshops in the Boston Public Schools and Communities. She has also done international work in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Nigeria and is multi-lingual speaking Shona, French and English. She has been recognized by the Boston Public Health Commission. Adolescent Wellness Program for her dedicated service to youth of Boston, and for her creative and holistic approach to health education.
Rosa Weinberg is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based design educator and artist trained as an architect. Rosa’s creative practice follows two lines of inquiry: human-nonhuman coexistence and the intersection of technology and the human body. She explores both through the design and fabrication of sculptural wearables and speculative objects. She uses a wide range of fabrication techniques, from mold-making and ceramics to sewing and digital fabrication.
Rosa has held residencies at Pioneer Works Tech Lab in New York City, the Textile Lab at Fab Lab Barcelona, Nervous Systems in Palenville, New York, and the Microsoft Garage in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has taught at Smith College, RISD, Harvard University, and NuVu Studio. Her work and that of her students has been presented in diverse contexts, including Boston Fashion Week, the Whitney Museum of Art, and Lincoln Center Outdoors.
Weinberg received a BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics from the London School of Economics and an M.Arch from the Yale School of Architecture. She is a co-organizer for Boston Tech Poetics, on boards for Mbadika and Heidi Latsky Dance, and she is a licensed architect.
Akili Jamal Haynes
Born July 12, 1972, Akili Jamal Haynes aka Chibuzo Dunun (dba) is a composer, producer, drummer, and multi-instrumentalist who began his artistic career at age 15 as a trombonist under the mentorship of Wynton Marsalis.
Despite having a substantial career as a trombonist, performing in Black Music formats and its multiple genres, his earliest jobs were as a classical trombonist at age 10, performing in brass quintets at a Martin Lutheran Church in NYC. During these early years, while at home, and in church, Akili was naturally growing in the realms of hip hop, funk, r & b, and gospel and picking up various instruments along the way.
Akili retired from trombone performance for the second time in September of 2001, the fact that he didn’t choose it nor enjoyed it, and the pursuit of his dreams to drum being the catalyst. In prior years, Akili has served as research assistant, and arranger to Ghanain master drummer Kimati Dinizulu, for music performed and recorded for Alvin Ailey Dance Theater under the direction of Judith Jamison in the mid 1990’s. He has performed at the White House as a part of Illinois Jacquet’s Big Band with President Bill Clinton guesting on saxophone at his own inauguration. Another visit to the White House as a member of the first class of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, of which he is the first trombonist and was awarded a full scholarship attending New England Conservatory from 1995-1997, found him performing for the induction of a new stamp with Thelonious Monk’s likeness, then meeting Muhammed Ali, and sitting to listen to Billy Dee Williams casually playing piano in Al Gore’s house. “Hey Jamal, what’s the name of this?” asks Mr. Williams as he ponders the question.
Akili is currently an Accompanist at Harvard Dance Center, Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Boston University, and Curry College Dance Departments, and was with Prometheus Dance Company as house accompanist and composer before they closed in 2019.
Akili is a dancer in the Benkadi Drum & Dance company, drummer for Sidi Mohamed “Joh” Camara’s Group Sewa, and multi-instrumentalist performing with guitar virtuoso Zaira Meneses in a duo/trio setting and with her group Son Jarocho Boston.
Akili has held positions as Director of Woodwinds & Brass at New England Conservatory, Music Director for Unity in the City Brookline, and Chair of Percussion & Popular Music at the Community Music Center of Boston.
Akili’s interests have inspired him to expand his skill set to that of a producer over the last decade, as it was a childhood dream which needed to come to fruition. He has embarked on the endeavor of creating a variety based performance called The Art & Soul of Chibuzo, which is a fully immersive experience that blends the sounds of African drums; original music steeped in the traditions of bebop, hip-hop, funk, and gospel; story telling, singing, dance, shadow puppetry, and a film based on his life, dreams, and past and future life imaginings. The story told is of a child prodigy forced to play the trombone, who puts it down to pursue the dreams of his youth. The project has since been condensed from a 57 person production to a one man show with a production crew with the new name Becoming Chibuzo. Currently Akili is continually developing this multi-media work (Becoming Chibuzo); Performing with his group Chibuzo Dunun, providing a wide range of experiences rooted in the traditions of African drumming; Producing a show called Mister Akili & the World of Chibuzo, featuring hand puppets JAM-ALL & LATIFAH LADY BUG, which so far is made to order based on the needs of educational organizations; Accepting commissions for composing and producing soundtracks for plays, and dance based films and performances, which he can also perform live in with multiple instruments and responsibilities including foley work, and acting. Most recent examples of this being an excerpted production of Jawole Jo Willa Zollar’s piece called SHELTER, which appeared in Boston Conservatory’s show called LIMITLESS; A soundtrack to a dance film choreographed by Adrienne Hawkins which features students of the Boston Arts Academy, and audio included in the Gallery X Lobby Installation of Anthony Davis’ X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X, which premiered at the Strand Theater; a live streamed version of the play LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, featuring actor Dayenne C. Walters; A poem-in-movement video written to commemorate the Nakba, by Sara Abou Rashed, performed by 14 international artists called 72 YEARS: A BIRTH CERTIFICATE; A Front Porch theater production of BLACK ODYSSEY BOSTON by Marcus Gardley
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush; And a role of the drummer in the Huntington Theater production of the George C. Wolfe play called THE COLORED MUSEUM directed by Billy Porter.
A love for learning new things propels Akili towards conquering new challenges, and expanding his opportunities to use his skills as a musician, and cultivate his talents as a producer, an actor and dancer, among other things.
Akili will appear as a special ability background extra in the upcoming Whitney Houston film, I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY, and has performed in, scored, filmed, edited, and co-produced a short film appearing in the Roxbury International Film Festival based on a poem that poet Denise Washington calls QUILT OF GREATNESS. Akili will be performing with his new group, and in the Stan Strickland trio this summer as part of the Eliot Schoolyard Concert Series in 2 separate performances respectively. In the Fall, Akili will perform as a musician for FINDING HOME: IMMIGRANT STORIES AND MUSIC FROM BOSTON AND BEYOND.