University of Wisconsin–Madison

Dr. S. Ama Wray and UW–Madison students to perform Embodiology® at Work: Embodiology® at Play on May 2 and May 3

Dr. S. Ama Wray, the spring 2018 University of Wisconsin–Madison Arts Institute’s Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence, will premiere their performance of Embodiology® at Work: Embodiology® at Play at the Chazen Museum of Art on Wednesday, May 2 at 7:00 pm. The Chazen Museum of Art (750 University Avenue, Madison) is a campus partner for this performance.

An abridged version of the multidisciplinary, interactive performance will take place again at the maiahaus (402 E. Mifflin Street, Madison) on Thursday, May 3 at 6:00 pm with special guest artist Rob Dz performing collaborative improvisational spoken word. maiahaus is Chele Isaac’s art space in Madison, and a former home of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The performances feature improvisation-based work by Wray, UW­–Madison students in her residency course and augmented reality multimedia co-developed with guest artist Fleeta Siegel. The “Embodiologists” or students who created artwork for this performance are Yoshinori Asai, Kathleen Cawley, Sean Clute, Ryan Cray, Collin Dedrick, Sam Douglass, Janetta Hill, William Hutchinson, Rebecca Kautz, Jasmine Kiah, Julia Levine, Ashley Lusietto, Kimi McKissic, Anna Siampani, Jim Vogel and Hannah Weibel. The undergraduate, graduate and special students represent a wide range of majors including art, geography, theatre, agriculture, computer science, dance, economics, engineering and music.

These performances are the culminating events of the residency’s course “The Art of Improvisation: From Phronesis to the Production of Practical Knowledge.” During the semester, students learned how to apply African improvisation methodologies, made evident through a praxis called Embodiology®, giving them the tools and sensibilities to innovate across disciplines, as well as tap into the unending streams of personal creativity. The class combined workshops with several guest artists in addition to other courses and professors on campus at the School of Human Ecology, the Grainger Innovation Space and residency partners.

Dr. Wray is an associate professor of dance at the University of California, Irvine. Wray self-titles as a “neo-African Performance Architect,” receiving her PhD from the University of Surrey where she developed her theory and practice of Embodiology®, an approach to creating contemporary performance, shaped by the deep structures that have been identified within African practices. In this case improvisation is synomous with creativity.

Currently, her improvisation practice is extending into clinical research with UC Irvine Medical Center, using her dance improvisation methods as a form of therapy for patients who suffer from chronic diseases. She is a 2018 African Diaspora SIG Emerging Scholar for the Comparative & International Education Society. Her upcoming research is with neuroscientists and looks at Embodiology’s metaprinciple: Examining the Neuroanatomy of Dynamic Rhythm.

Embodiology® is a registered trademark and demonstrates the originator’s commitment, as an action researcher, to return a royalty payment to the Ewe community in Ghana, where through artists and everyday people deep knowledge was revealed, each time its principles are shared.

Wray’s residency is presented by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arts Institute. It is hosted by the Art Department with co-sponsoring Departments of Art History, Dance, Afro-American Studies and African Cultural Studies. The faculty lead is Associate Professor Faisal Abdu’Allah of the Art Department. For additional previous events visit: go.wisc.edu/wray.