niv Acosta, Jumatatu Poe, and Jumatatu Poe
Jamillah James Curatorial Fellowship
Saturday, June 22nd 2014
Niv Acosta
Niv Acosta


Performance: niv Acosta, Jumatatu Poe, and Shannon Murphy
This program concluded James’s curatorial fellowship and included new dance performances by New York-based choreographer and dancer niv Acosta, Philadelphia-based choreographer and dancer Jumatatu Poe, and Philadelphia-based choreographer and dancer Shannon Murphy. The artists use movement to both deconstruct and rearticulate modes of embodiment, representation, and identification.

Artist Statements

“Signifying and subversion come up a lot in my work and my life. I am interested in how they connect—these strategizing tools, these rhythms of relating, these disruptors, these renderers of confusion. I’m interest’d in how they connect me to my Blackness, my African-Americanness, my queerness……… What is the operation of subversion in my own artistic… practice? (?) Can I disrupt m’self into greater c’tr’l? Can I be confused? Like, is that okay??I am working on being mind-blowing, but ‘m not sure it’s hap’n’n’…?Like,?do you wanna get to know the real me??amireallythereamireallythereamireallythereamireallythereammereallythereammereally?thereammereallyreammereallyreammereallyreammereallylikereally…?.?Nah, but really, I just wan’ be yours. This for you.” Jumatatu Poe

In his recent project, “the denzel series,” niv Acosta breaks apart an idealized black masculinity, invoking popular African-American actor, Denzel Washington, Jr. The six-part work, which has unfolded over six years, introduces new modalities of the “denzel” archetype with each “incarnation,” revealing new subjective possibilities each time. This fracturing highlights what Acosta refers to as “impossible bodies,” those that exist in one space safely, subjects that are dispersed, perhaps unconstituted, in other settings:

“with “possible bodies” fed to us as ideal, how do we make ourselves feel possible without compromising ourselves?
Drawing concepts of archetypes from film, musicals, songs, and choreography, Acosta creates a base to begin identifying our self diagnosed impossibilities, moving towards self ideations that feel empowering.” niv Acosta

Video Documentation


Jumatatu Poe was born in San Jose, California, in 1982 and is based in Philadelphia. His artistic practice includes making of his own performance work, and work with idiosynCrazy productions, a company he founded in 2008 and now co-directs with Shannon Murphy. His work as a choreographer focuses on further understanding bodies and selves that are physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, representational, and spiritual…and sexual. In addition to his work as a choreographer and performer, he also teaches dance at Swarthmore College. As a performer, Poe also currently works with Merián Soto and Leah Stein. Since 2012, he has been engaged in a collaborative, multi-tiered performance practice with NYC-based dance artist Jesse Zaritt. Previously, Poe has danced with Marianela Boán, Tania Isaac, Charles. O. Anderson/Dance Theatre X, Keith Thompson, and Kate Watson-Wallace. His choreographic work has been supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Dance Advance, Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, Susan Hess Modern Dance Choreographers’ Project, the Community Education Center, Philadelphia Dance Projects, Dance New Amsterdam, and New York Live Arts. Poe has performed in Philadelphia, Seattle, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and New York. Most recently, he completed a creative residency in Neuss, Germany, through Tanzrecherche NRW, and received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2012.

Shannon Murphy is an Ohio native who joined the Philadelphia dance community in 2007. After graduating Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Dance from Point Park University, Murphy began her exploration into the somatic and movement healing arts. She is now a level three Franklin Method Educator, one of a select few in the United States. Murphy uses the FM in both her pedagogy and choreography, and has taught FM at many universities and dance companies, training programs and workshops specifically for veterans and people with PTSD. Murphy continues on her journey to experience as much movement as possible, developing her own kinetic vocabulary to strengthen her pedagogy and develop her understanding of performance, community and communication through dance. Murphy proudly became a co-artistic director for idiosynCrazy productions alongside founder Jumatatu Poe in 2009. Since then, the company has produced performances as well as workshops, lecture demonstrations, panel discussions and other community events. Last year, Shannon was a FringeArts LAB Fellow, which supported her artistic research, experimentation and exploration of contemporary dance and cross-genre live performance work. As a choreographer, her work displays physical investigation, emotional intrigue and a curiosity of functionality both physically and metaphorically. Her work has been presented at the Goose Route Dance Festival, InFlux, Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s newMoves Contemporary Dance Festival, Community Education Center’s New Edge Mix, Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts and Group Motion Dance Company’s Spiel Uhr. In 2010-11, she was a New Edge Resident Artist at the CEC where she created her latest evening-length work, “Find.” idiosynCrazy’s latest work “Plastic City” was a collaboration with Jumatatu Poe, which had its Philadelphia premiere at the Society for Dance History Scholars conference and has also performed at the Barnes Foundation and the Suzanne Roberts Theater. As a freelance performer, Murphy has worked with many dance artists/companies, including Anonymous Bodies/Kate Watson-Wallace, Dance Theater X, Kosoko Performance Group, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, SCRAP Performance Group, Peggy Baker, Robert Battle, Wally Cardona and Rennie Harris. She is currently a faculty member at the University of The Arts, teaches at PARD, and has been a teaching artist for the Koresh School of dance and the Koresh Youth ensemble for seven years.

niv Acosta is a Brooklyn-based artist born and raised in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Niv is 25 years old, Dominican and transgender. He trained at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance with Tadej Brdnik, Jessica Delia, Whitney V. Hunter and Catherine Cabeen. Acosta attended California Institute of the Arts, where he studied dance technique and choreography. He has presented his work at various events and spaces including The Sharon Disney Lund Theater at CalArts, Pieter Performance Space, and Human Resources in Los Angeles; The Community Education Center in Philadelphia; New York Live Arts, AUNTS at The New Museum, The Tank, and Danspace Project in New York; and Brooklyn Arts Exchange and the Center For Performance Research in Brooklyn. niv was awarded an Art and Social Change Grant through the Leeway Foundation. Other projects include we were an island (Vanessa Anspaugh, Danspace, 2014); Star Crap in Progress (Larissa Velez-Jackson, Center for Performance Research, 2013); An All Day Event.The End (Ralph Lemon, Danspace, 2012); Blues (Deborah Hay, Museum of Modern Art, New York 2012); Reusable Parts/Endless Love (Gerard & Kelly, Danspace Project at St. Marks Church on the Bowery, 2011); Eyes, Mouth, and All the Rest: Surrendering to the Desire of Others (Ishmael Houston-Jones, New York Live Arts, 2011); and gender < moving: queer bodies/home (with collaborators iele paloumpis and Jai Arun Ravine, Studio34 Yoga | Healing | Arts in Philadelphia, 2010), among others.