Maudelle flew to outer space (uncapturable) | Knees, Schools, Urges
taisha paggett
Sunday, Jun 12 2022
8:00 AM - 11:15 AM

a gathering/\re-member-ing/\death revival practice
***please bring a meaningful item that you wish to be placed on your own death altar.***

“In 1939, actress Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for portraying the stereotypical character of “Mammy” in the film Gone with the Wind, embodying what was then the most indelibly popular image of black women in American culture. Inscribed on that image were notions of sexuality (the neutered mammy versus the sexualized, fair-skinned Jezebel with more European features), class, and labor (domestic work). Maudelle [Bass Weston] conformed to none of these. Though there were movements by artists from the Harlem Renaissance through the New Negro period who actively sought to present a more complex picture of African American life and culture, Maudelle did not precisely fit their model of black womanhood and femininity either.” (C Williams, 2007.) This project—situated as an installation/altar, performance, and contemplative public practice on the weekend of Maudelle’s death anniversary—is a speculative and commemorative landing place for the dancer and model who skillfully elided fixed representations of blackness in her time.


Maudelle Bass was born in 1908 and grew up in Early County, Georgia. In 1933, Bass moved to Los Angeles and studied at Gray Conservatory of Music and Art. In addition to training with Isobel Keith Morrison, she was the first Black dancer to study under Lester Horton. She was given a scholarship to study with the choreographer and danced with his company as well. Beside her experience with modern techniques, Bass studied Nigerian dance under Modupe Paris and Asadata Dafora and at the Fowler School of African Culture. Her other teachers included Tony Massaqua, from whom she learned Liberian dance and culture. In the 1930s, Bass danced and toured with the Arte Folklorico de Mexico. As a member of the Negro Unit of Ballet Theatre, she played the role of the Priestess in Agnes de Mille’s Black Ritual […] Bass modeled for painter Diego Rivera […] Other artists who painted Bass were Abraham Baylinson, Nicolai Fechin, and Robert M. Jackson. She was also a model for photographers Edward Weston, Johan Hagemeyer, and Sonia Noskowiak and for Beulah Ecton Woodard’s sculpture Maudelle. In 1948, Bass established a dance school in Los Angeles and worked as a lecturer at UCLA. In the 1950s, Bass performed with Pearl Primus. After her marriage to George Weston, Antiguan dancer and head of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), in 1960, Bass was known as Maudelle Bass Weston as well as by her professional name “Maudelle.”

Bass became a cultural figure within the LA arts community, toured throughout the country and Latin America, taught and lectured about dance, and performed in lecture-demonstrations in New York for many years. She was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the 1983 Celebration of Women in Dance at the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center. She passed away at 81 years old on June 11, 1989 in Plainfield, New Jersey. [From MoBBallet: Memories of Blacks in Ballet website)]


About the artist: i make things and am interested in what bodies do. i believe language is tricky, thoughts are powerful, and that people are most beautiful when looking up. i received the Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ Merce Cunningham Award in 2019 and my work has been supported by the kindness and efforts of numerous other organizations, curators, writers, mentors and friends over the years. i teach in the Dance Department at UC Riverside and live nearby in what i’m coming to understand as a cross-section of the original and rightful homeland of the Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseño, and Serrano peoples.


Shivani Kai Aletheia Om aka Sonya Enchill, is the director and principal instructor of Dharma Yoga LA, formerly Dharma Mittra Yoga LA founded in August 2008. Ms. Enchill also serves as President of S Enchill Wellness, a 501 (C)(3) non-profit organization established in 2012 to make classical yoga and other healing modalities accessible to underserved populations. Sonya Om is also a Reiki Master, trained in the Usui Tibetan lineage and deeply enjoys sharing luminous Reiki energy with the Dharma LA community. She aims to guide all students to the divine light within themselves. For more information, please visit Dharma Yoga LA.
meital yaniv is a death doula tending to a prayer for the liberation of the land of Palestine and the lands of our bodies. they do things with words, with moving n still images, with threads, with bodies in front of bodies, with the Earth. they are learning to listen to the waters, birdsongs, caretakers, and ancestors as they walk as a guest on the lands of the Tongva-Kizh Nation, Luiseño, and Cahuilla peoples and ways.  
8:05am-8:30am Opening circle with taisha and meital
8:30am-10am A special open-level class of asanas, breath work and meditation taught by Shivani Kai Aletheia Om aka Sonya Enchill of Dharma Yoga LA 
(This class will happen simultaneously over Zoom for those unable to attend in person.)
10am-11:05am Open dance floor and jam for land)fly(ing

Saturday, June 11, 5:05pm-8:05pm


Sunday, June 12, 8:05am-11:05am 


What to expect:  this event is open to all, and we invite you to enter the space holding the questions: how do you enter and be in a Black space? How do you need to shift your being to center Blackness? 


Please register in advance so that we may anticipate our walk-in numbers and assign a Zoom login for those wishing to join virtually. Please bring a mat if you have one.


Accessibility Note: The Box gallery is all on one level and has a rear entrance with a ramp. There are 2 small gender neutral single stall bathrooms on site. Please note that the bathrooms do not have a rail for transfer assistance and have limited space for larger mobility devices. Please contact the Box with any access needs and for more details: 1(213) 625-1747


COVID protocol: As COVID safety negotiation continues to be part of our community choreography, Pieter will continue to strive to be transparent and clear about our practices, with the goal of always prioritizing the most vulnerable among us. All events will require masks and utilize our Button Buddies which you can learn more about HERE


About the exhibition: A collaboration between Pieter Performance Space and The Box, curated by Jennie MaryTai Liu and assistant curator Alana Frey, Knees, Schools, Urges is a performance program and exhibition which invites ten dancers / artists to grapple with documented and undocumented histories of early 20th century modern dance in the place now known as Los Angeles. An examination of the absence of archived history of dance and dancers in the region, and the undersung work that historically minoritized artists have done in the field, the project looks both forward and backward, approaching the timeframe of the exhibition as an opportunity to document and create an archive which acknowledges the value of short-term local history as an ongoing project for present and future generations.