Will Rawls & Claudia Rankine
What Remains

What Remains is a collaboration between poet and MacArthur Fellow Claudia Rankine and choreographer Will Rawls (recipient of the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer).

The work responds to questions of presence by poetically addressing the erasure and exposure that drives the historical disturbance of black citizens. Through movement and language, What Remains creates an immersive environment that evokes a haunted imagination that is navigating violence and disappearance with a resonant, ghostly chorus.

As Rankine told The New York Times, "One thing about being black in America—you have to curtail your movements, to live in such a way that what the white gaze projects upon blackness will not end your life. So you're always thinking, can I walk at night?... Can I have my cell phone out? If it glitters, will someone think it's a gun? At what point can I just be?"

Adds Rawls, "One never just happens to be black, even in the most abstract dance… Whiteness in our society — and this is something Claudia talks about, too — is the space that produces the conditions and terms against which all other lives are measured and enabled or disabled. Dance doesn’t escape those power dynamics."

What Remains premiered at the Fisher Center for Performing Arts in 2017. It was created in collaboration with Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, Leslie Cuyjet, Jessica Pretty, and Tara Aisha Willis, who perform in the piece.

The performance on Tue, Sep 25 will be followed by a discussion with Claudia Rankine and Will Rawls, moderated by Malik Gaines.

Direction and choreography by Will Rawls
Text by Claudia Rankine
Creative Consultant John Lucas
Production design by David Szlasa
Costume design by Eleanor O’Connell
Sound design by Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste
Music by Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, with Will Rawls
In English
70 minutes, no intermission, no late seating
Tickets $15–$22

Danspace Project
131 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003
Co-presented with Danspace Project

What Remains was commissioned, developed, and premiered by Live Arts Bard, the commissioning and residency program of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. What Remains was developed with additional commissioning support from the French Institute Alliance Française’s Crossing the Line Festival, the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, Yale Repertory Theater, and SummerStages at the ICA/Boston.

About the Artists

Claudia Rankine is the author of five books of poetry, including the bestseller Citizen: An American Lyric, (Graywolf, 2014), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and was praised by The New York Times for "brilliantly pushing poetry's forms to disarm readers and circumvent our carefully constructed defense mechanisms." Her four earlier collections include: Don't Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf, 2004), PLOT (Grove, 2001), The End of the Alphabet (Grove, 1998), and Nothing in Nature is Private (1995). A recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poetry, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lannan Foundation as well as a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, she is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale.

Will Rawls is a choreographer, writer, and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. His practice combines dance with other media to investigate the poetics of blackness, ambiguity, and abstraction. His inquiries into bodily states and humanity aim to redraw notions of power and form. Rawls has presented his work at The Chocolate Factory, MoMA PS1, Performa 15, the Whitney Museum of American Art, ImPulsTanz, and Portland Institute of Contemporary Art. In addition to presenting his own performances, he collaborated with Ishmael Houston-Jones to co-curate the Danspace Project Platform 2016: Lost and Found. Focusing on the intergenerational impact of the AIDS epidemic on dancers, women, and people of color, he helped organize performances, reconstructions, discussions, and co-edited the catalogue, Lost and Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now. His writings have been published by Artforum, Triple Canopy, les presses du réel, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Hammer Museum.
What Remains photos © Julieta Cervantes, courtesy of Live Arts Bard;
Rawls © Luis Rodriguez;
Rankine © Rankine