Johnnie Cruise Mercer: Residency at Petronio Residency Center

Johnnie Cruise Mercer in Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from A LIFE and other works by John Bernd, part of Danspace Project’s Platform 2016 Lost & Found, 2016. Photo by Ian Douglas

Year: 2018-2019
DanceForce Member: Judy Hussie-Taylor
Artist: Johnnie Cruise Mercer
Community Partner: Petronio Residency Center, Cairo NY
Audience: 384
County: Greene

Danspace Project (DSP) partnered with the Petronio Residency Center (PRC) in Greene County, NY to host an artist residency for Johnnie Cruise Mercer and his company of collaborators, The REDprojectNYC. The week-long residency was held October 22-27, 2018. The newly commissioned work – (Process Memoir 4): The Word, the Spirit, and Little Rock – which was partially developed during the residency at PRC, then premiered at DSP in New York City (February 28 – March 2, 2019). The premiere was also preceded by a weeklong production residency at DSP.

A youth workshop and an open works-in-progress showing were held in Hudson (Columbia County), providing easier access for people living in Hudson and Catskill. Hussie-Taylor and PRC approached DanceForce member Elena Mosley of Kuumba Dance and Drum for her advice on outreach to youth-groups and the works in progress showing. Mosley arranged for a two-day youth workshop which engaged 8 teens in a dialogue about dance, race, and religion. Hudson Hall hosted a free works-in-progress showing with 24 attendees. Five of the workshop students participated in the showing. Mosley and Petronio developed mentorship relationships with Mercer who, as an early career choreographer, was navigating his first creative residencies and youth outreach projects.

In addition to its inclusion in DSP’s season brochure, website, email announcements, and press outreach, DSP invited a guest writer to respond to the performances in our online Journal at
Guest writer Benedict Nguyen said: “Mercer delivers an ode, a direct expression of gratitude to the Black women who have supported him. Its vulnerability catches me off guard and as I’m still processing how this offering was performed, the works keeps moving.”