World-Renowned Choreographer and Dance Educator Emily Berry on the Power of FORGIVENESS

Published: March 23, 2017

Emily Berry, Associate Professor and Director of the Dance program at Queensborough, is a world-renowned choreographer and dancer. She is also Artistic Director of B3W Performance Group, a social impact arts organization committed to collaboration and reflection, revealing the world we live in through community-building workshops and multi-disciplinary performances.

B3W’s recent major work, FORGIVENESS, is inspired by the idea of forgiveness as a virtue worthy of daily practice that leads to a deeper sense of empathy. The work is the culmination of having spent the past few years researching the topic of forgiveness through diverse cultural exploration with her company, B3W Performance Group. From now until 2020, B3W will perform FORGIVENESS in three parts in New York City and around the world. The three parts are: Forgiving the Personal, How Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Dismantling Systemic Racism, and Self-Forgiveness.

Through devised intermedia performances integrating words, live music, new media scenography, and movement, each body of work will highlight personal accounts from B3W artistic collaborators, in response to the FORGIVENESS Community Workshops. The work was recently presented by Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City.

B3W has performed at Henry Street Settlement, Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, BAAD!, the 92nd Street Y, The Irondale Center as part of FLICFest, International Dance Festival NYC, DUMBO Dance Festival, Manhattan Movement Arts Center, and Cool New York Dance Festival, as well as having premiered two dance films in Maryland, and in Switzerland.

Berry has traveled to 11 countries on 6 continents facilitating workshops on FORGIVENESS in culturally diverse communities. She collaborated with performing arts organizations, artist-in-residence spaces, museums, middle schools, high schools, Universities, local Rotary Clubs, and the Peace & Justice Center, in Beijing, China; Delhi, India; New Castle, Australia; Portici, Italy; Athens, Greece; Shepherd, Michigan; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Grahamstown, South Africa; Johannesburgh, South Africa; Edinburgh, Scotland; Cambridge, England; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Queensborough dance students went through a similar process of exploring forgiveness in order to collaborate with this inspiring piece. In addition, her students are offered several opportunities each year to perform with and learn from some of the most renowned professional dancers and choreographers in the business.

“Being a working artist in New York has allowed me to connect my students with professionals in the community and bring back what they learn into the classroom.”

The annual spring dance concert, held at Queensborough’s Performing Arts Center (QPAC), has featured such distinguished guest artists as Marjani Fortè-Saunders; Robert Battle, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Malcolm Jason Low; Ryan Johnson; Paul Taylor; Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Anna Sokolow; and Emily Berry and Aviva Geismar of Queensborough’s Dance Department. The dance concerts also include works by student choreographers, highlighting the creative and collaborative spirit of dance and challenging students in bold and exciting ways.

“Queensborough allows me the privilege of working with students from all over the world who come together to share a common passion for dance. I have an opportunity to witness how dance transforms their lives.”

In March, Queensborough’s student dancers will participated in the 2017 American College Dance Association (ACDA).

Last spring, ten of Queensborough’s student dancers participated in the Northeast Regional Conference of the American College Dance Association (ACDA), held at the College at Brockport in New York. They participated in classes and attended performances held by colleges from all over the region. Of the 45 dance pieces staged at the Conference, nine were selected to perform at the Brockport ACDA Gala including Queensborough, the only community college selected to perform at the event. Three pieces fr om the Gala were selected to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for Nationals. Queensborough was selected along with pieces from LIU Brooklyn starring a Queensborough graduate and Rutgers University also featuring a Queensborough graduate.

“It is extremely important that our students participate in these prestigious regional conferences. They have opportunities to meet fellow student dancers, professionals, and faculty, many of whom are from four-year colleges and universities they will be transferring to.”

B3W has also premiered two dance films in Maryland and in Switzerland (2007). The company received the 2010 Mondo Cane Commission from Dixon Place for Confined. The same year Emily was commissioned to set a piece for Ann Arbor Dance Works. Spin Art which creates public art through a performance with paint inside of a cube premiered in 2014. The work was made possible with a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts.

Berry’s work has been critically acclaimed as “Memorable, intelligent, strong”; “Violent but engaging”; and a “Clear expression of idea in movement”.

Berry has performed with danceTactics Performance Group/Keith Thompson, Boris

Willis Moves, Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh & Company, and Restless Native Dance/Tamieca McCloud, among others.

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