Marguerite "Rita" Hemmings
Marguerite is Jamaican born, raised in New Jersey, and has been living in NYC for the past 10 years. She graduated from Columbia University in Education and Urban Studies. As a dancer, Marguerite specializes in street styles, social dances, hip hop, and dancehall, and has trained in modern and West African. She currently teaches Experimental Dancehall, a term she has coined to capture her love of dancehall/reggae culture, music, and dance as well as her love for movement exploration, improvisation, and challenging norms and expectations of how we express ourselves.
Marguerite’s work also centers around liberation. She has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council, and University Settlement to further her work as an artist/organizer. She is most recently a recipient of the 2015-16 Dancing While Black Fellowship. In her day-to-day work she subverts and creates with youth and fellow teaching artists. She co-founded a youth empowerment dance intensive, the New York Youth Movement Collaborative. She is a teaching artist/artist in residence with University Settlement and co-directs a collective of teaching artists, Collective Movements.
As for her current artistic work, she has been working on a self-directed project called Blacker the Berry, part of an overarching multimedia endeavor called ‘we free’ that explores the millennial generation’s take on liberation. The first installment of 'we free' was recently shown at Gibney Dance's Double Plus Series, curated by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. Since, iterations of 'we free' have been shown at Brooklyn Museum, BRIC Arts Media, and MoCada.
Experimental Dancehall is a high energy, open dance class that plays with popular music and dances from Jamaica and the African Diaspora (i.e. Haiti, Ghana, Nigeria). This class is fun, explorative and open--designed to bring and expand joy. Come play! All levels welcome. Class will start off with a dance warm-up to popular music from the African diaspora, move into improvisational exercises that get us moving creatively, and will end with a combination we all learn and play with together.