Watch Rehearsal Highlights of Christopher Rudd’s Latest Dance Piece, Witness

Christopher Rudd

New Victory LabWorks Partners with Guggenheim’s Works & Process to Honor Juneteenth

2020-21 New Victory LabWorks Artist Christopher Rudd shares his art with audiences of all ages this week in honor of Juneteenth. A proud Jamaican immigrant and self-identified Black artist, Rudd’s current work entitled Witness is a choreographed dance piece intended to open a dialogue on the challenging issue of race in America. Inspired by the murders of Trayvon Martin and countless African Americans killed without justice, Witness takes the audience on a journey through time and form depicting the African American march toward equality.

The three parts, “Yesterday,” “Today” and “Tomorrow,” mix contemporary ballet, aerial bungee and traditional African dance to deliver a work that is as dynamic as it is poignant. All at once reverent, magical, painful and hopeful, Christopher Rudd’s in-process rehearsal highlights of Witness are available to view on the Guggenheim’s Works & Process YouTube channel beginning Tuesday, June 15 at 7:30pm ET.

Rudd has worked on the second part of Witness during his time as a New Victory LabWorks Artist. Far-reaching in his creative ambition, Rudd took Witness to the Guggenheim’s Works & Process bubble residency to safely work with dancers on the piece during the pandemic before ultimately filming the first two parts on the New Victory stage.

“Since beginning my journey as a generative artist, LabWorks has provided the most thorough support,” says Rudd. “The conversations I’m having, the networking opportunities, the artistic development are all proving to shape the way I look at the creation and business of my craft. However, the most exciting part of the New Victory LabWorks program is still the ability to sample my piece during its creation to the age group that I intend to reach with my work.”

Hear more from Christopher and watch rehearsal highlights from Witness

P. Tyler Britt talks to choreographer Christopher Rudd at The New Victory Theater
New Victory Teaching Artist P. Tyler Britt discusses Witness with creator and choreographer Christopher Rudd.

“Although it is vital to be represented in art and culture, representation isn’t only important to the historically marginalized. Representation helps the entire world get a more accurate perspective on what life is,” says Rudd.

Citing a desire to influence and shape young minds with his work, Rudd’s enthusiasm for sharing art with audiences of all ages is infectious. See Rudd and the RudduR Dance ensemble rehearse portions of Witness at Little Island on Sunday, June 20 at 3pm. (Reservations required; visit Little Island’s website for more info.)

The timing of Rudd’s public rehearsals at Little Island and the Works & Process video release are no mistake. Ever intentional, Rudd wants audiences to see the connection between his work and the holiday that commemorates the day when, in 1865, the final emancipation order was read aloud in Texas, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The choreographer candidly shared that the word “Juneteenth” was scrutinized in his applications for dance residencies, with many groups unfamiliar with the term and the holiday’s significance. He’s hopeful that with Juneteenth beginning to be celebrated proudly across the United States, particularly after the murder of George Floyd, folks of all ages and races will embrace the newly recognized federal holiday and the unity it promotes.