Announcing the 2021 Naked Stages Fellows!

Pillsbury House Theatre (PHT) is excited to announce the recipients of the 2021 Naked Stages Fellowship:  Ashembaga (Ashe) Jaafaru, Margaret Ogas, and Alys Ayumi Ogura.

The 2021 Fellows were selected by a panel: Masanari Kawahara, Marcela Michelle, and Rhiana Yazzie. This panel was facilitated by program director, Pramila Vasudevan.

From left to right: Alys Ayumi Ogura (photo credit J. Feist Photography), Margaret Ogas (photo credit Isabel Fajardo), and Ashembaga Jaafaru (photo credit Awa Mally).

ABOUT THE FELLOWS:

ASHEMBAGA (ASHE) JAAFARU  

Project: A solo performance that will illustrate the challenges, triumphs, and JOY of being in your body and spirit while crippling mental health and outside dangers assault you. Jaafaru’s project will use theatrical body wisdom and African diasporic religious concepts to capture the emotions, feelings, and physicality of black queer womxn/femmes/non binary folx with liberation and healing. Yourba and Ibibio traditional spirituality/religion uses divination, Oriṣas, rituals, offerings, sacrifices, dance and utterances. Through these practices there is an honoring of family and lineage, mind and body, artistic creation, and making sense of the universe within multiple realities. Body wisdom is the fusion of yoga, reiki, dance, song, mediation and ancestral veneration through performance, in the hopes of invoking more information of the inner workings of the body, mind and spirit.

Bio: Ashembaga (Ashe) Jaafaru is an actor, performer, writer, and creative idea-maker. She is involved in theatre, film, and voiceover work in the Twin Cities + beyond. She creates art for liberation and continues to write imaginative stories. Film credits include Buttafly Precinct (Lady) and Keon (Patience) with Catalyst Arts, The Convert (Jekesai) with Frank Theatre, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf (Lady in Brown) with KC Repertory Theatre & Penumbra Theatre, A Midsummer Summer Night’s Dream (Hermia) with Black Ensemble Players, School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play (Paulina) with Jungle Theater.

MARGARET OGAS 

Project: Margaret will develop a site-specific work, using muralism and dance as a framework for public performance and storytelling. The performance installation will reference the tradition of Chicanx muralism and its role in historical movements, while considering the nuanced evolution of public art and social movements today. Using the street facing space in front of Pillsbury House, Margaret will develop a visual backdrop to interact with during live performances. The content of the project will be informed by Chicanx muralism, the landscape of the neighborhood and issues that are relevant to this particular community in South Minneapolis.

Bio: Margaret Ogas is a dancer and choreographer who makes funky, spunky, socially engaged performances. She is a proud midwestern Chicana hailing from Milwaukee, WI. Margaret has presented her choreography in spaces throughout the Twin Cities, including the Walker Art Center, the Cedar Cultural Center, The Minnesota Museum of American Art and on sidewalks in South Minneapolis. She recently presented her first dance film, “Rise y Resiste: 50 Years of Movimiento” in collaboration with videographer Luisa Armendariz, commissioned by the University of Minnesota’s Chicano & Latino Studies Department. As a dancer, Margaret has had the pleasure of performing works by Chris Schlichting, Laurie Van Wieren, and Taja Will. She holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

ALYS AYUMI OGURA

Project: Ogura’s project is movement with a verbal narrative, sometimes known as talking dance. Ogura will develop and perform a one-woman stand-up dark comedy with movement—the verbal narrative and dance would be in roughly equal amounts, and will explore how her movements would inspire a verbal narrative—and vice versa. 

Bio: Alys Ayumi Ogura is a Twin Cities dancer/performing artist. Her dance training began in Japan where she learned from Mika Kurosawa, the famed godmother of Japanese contemporary dance. Her theater training was part of her BA in Theater Studies from Westmar University. Ogura serves as a DanceMN steering committee member and she was a former fellow at the Arts Organizing Institute (2017-18) through Pangea World Theater. Her choreography highlights span from improvising dance in her home to street dancing with her cohort from Don’t You Feel It, Too? to performing at the Walker Art Center’s Choreographer’s Evening.

ABOUT NAKED STAGES

2021 marks Pramila Vasudevan’s sixth year as Director of Naked Stages. Naked Stages is a 7-month development program that provides time, financial support, and mentoring to three early career artists as they develop their unique voices as performance artists and creators. Twice a month, they also participate in workshops focused on the business side of art, from audience development to technical support, helping to develop their unique voice into a sustainable, artistic career.

The scheduled performance dates for the 2021 Naked Stages artists are December 16 – 18. We are continuing to evaluate the situation with COVID-19 and will keep you apprised of any changes.

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