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Dance | Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark, A Celebration of Chicago’s Social Dance History

July 21 @ 1:00 pm

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About the Event

Co-organized with Honey Pot Performance

Coinciding with the career survey exhibition Gary Simmons: Public Enemy, a series of MCA programs activates Gary Simmons’s sculptural installation work, Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark. Inspired by the Black Ark—Lee “Scratch” Perry’s famous recording studio in Kingston, Jamaica, where he pioneered dub reggae—Simmons’s sculptural installation serves as a flexible stage for conversations, music, and performance.

For this day-long celebration of Chicago’s social dance history, the piece is being temporarily installed under the glittering chandelier of the South Shore Cultural Center Dining Room to commemorate the importance of the neighborhood and the history of Black social culture in Chicago.

Your Visit

Tickets are free, but reservation is required for each program. Walk up tickets will be available. Register on the MCA website.

Your ticket to any of the day’s programs includes access to Honey Pot Performance’s Chicago Black Social Culture Map Project from 1-7 pm.

This event takes place at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.
CART captioning provided, except during the dance party.

Get the full info on the MCA website at https://visit.mcachicago.org/events/dance-recapturing-memories-of-the-black-ark-a-celebration-of-chicagos-social-dance-history/


Shiny Stockings: A Work in Progress

2–3 pm

A talk and performance with Cristin Carole, alumni of the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre, and the Whitney Young Dance Department.

For Count Basie’s 1957 national tour, “Shiny Stockings” was choreographed for a line of four to five chorus dancers at his request. The work highlights the movement vernacular of Black Broadway choreographer Sammy Dyer and his mentee Shirley Hall Bass. Paired with a short documentary film and a lecture by Cristin Carole, Chicago-based choreographer, dance educator, and grandniece of Shirley Hall Bass, this restaging is part of a longer process toward an interdisciplinary work that reimagines an evening at the historic Bronzeville nightclub The Club DeLisa. The number is performed by dancers from the pre-professional company, Guys and Dolls, from Whitney Young High School, and captures a unique moment in Chicago’s dance history, informed by narrative inquiry, digitized interviews, collaborative workshops, and feedback from the still-living performers.

Performance | Benji Hart, Dancer as Insurgent

3:30–4 pm

Interdisciplinary artist, author, and educator Benji Hart performs their solo work Dancer as Insurgent, which explores vogue dance as a tool for radical social transformation. Through spoken word and improvised movement, the piece traces the form’s roots back to its inception in Rikers Island prison, grounding it in a history of Black, queer struggle, and insisting that vogue is not only a source of individual empowerment, but a portal for revolutionary social and political reimaginings.

Talk: The Changing Vocabulary of House Dance

4:30-6 pm

House dance artists Jarvis Mason and Amansu Eason are joined by co-moderators Erika Jarvis and Rae Chardonnay to compare original and contemporary house dance vocabularies. Together they discuss the genesis and evolution of the style, from its beginnings in the early 1980s to current Afro-diasporic influences like Afrobeats. Dance moves like the “Loose Leg” or the “Cross Step” are recollected anecdotally, traced over time and geography, and demonstrated live.

Workshop/Dance Party

6:30–9 pm

Join DJ Jarvis Mason and dance artist Amansu Eason on the dance floor! After kicking the party off with a short lesson, audience members are invited to celebrate with us by showing off their best moves.

Community Archives Initiative, Chicago Black Social Culture Map

Ongoing, 1–7 pm
No ticket required

An initiative of Honey Pot Performance, the Chicago Black Social Culture Map is an online archive that traces Chicago’s Black social culture across the 20th century, from the First Great Migration through the birth of house music. Through open sessions, targeted interviews, and multifaceted research, data has been compiled on more than 350 historic venues in the Chicagoland area. CBSCM leads conversations to collect the oral histories of these ephemeral and embodied forms.

Audience members are invited to bring flyers, photos, fashion, stories, and other cultural artifacts to be integrated into the CBSCM digital archive through on-site archiving stations, including scanners, online mapping, and oral history collection.


South Shore Cultural Center
7059 S South Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60649 United States
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July 21
1:00 pm

More Event Details

Various activities from 1-9PM. Most programs around 1-1.5 hours.