How to be Afraid? included performances, talks and a lab led by mayfield brooks and Mary Pearson with collaborators Akeim Toussaint Buck, Seke Chimutengwende, Anne-Gaëlle Thiriot and Amy Voris and a wider group of participants.
How to be Afraid? explores fear and trauma stemming from brooks and Pearson’s different but connected ancestral links to the transatlantic slave trade.
Over the past four years, iterations of this project have manifested in in a number of international contexts. This iteration explored somatic responses to the turbulent politics and pandemic conditions of the past year and how it has shifted perspectives and realities.
The project revolved around the nature of fear itself. How do we navigate this time when political and societal pressure needs to be released. How do we recover from a fear of intimacy, if we are afraid, after a year of lockdowns and physical distancing.
Themes included dismantling, decomposition, crumbling systems and how to build trust. What does it mean to be a genuine ally or accomplice. How can we sit with discomfort. What exists now when we share space together. How do we contend with the other pandemic, of racial violence, repeating itself and haunting our bodies in the present?
Somatic Experiencing® uses the terms trauma vortex and counter vortex describe the bodily phenomena that locate us in relation to what feels life-threatening or life-sustaining. How to be Afraid? worked with these principles to flex our capacity to feel and move along with these subtle contractions and expansions, towards and away from, resisting against, or seeking connection.
Due to pandemic circumstances, this project was delivered transatlantically in hybrid mode, with mayfield brooks based at Center for Performance Research in New York and Mary Pearson and other collaborators and participants working from Siobhan Davies Studios.
This iteration of How to be Afraid? was co-produced by Mary Pearson, mayfield brooks and Independent Dance in partnership with CPR – Center for Performance Research (New York), The Bluecoat (Liverpool) supported through public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and with support from Creative Land Trust.
mayfield brooks is currently improvising while black in brooklyn, new york. mayfield is a movement-based performance artist, vocalist, urban farmer, teacher, and writer. they have studied contemporary dance with ‘the school for new dance’ (SNDO) in amsterdam, as well as the ‘moving on center in oakland, ca. and holds a MFA in ‘interdisciplinary performance’ from uc davis, and a masters in ‘performance studies’ from northwestern university. In 2018 mayfield was a wow/uny artist-in-residence at governors island nyc, in 2019 they were a dance and process (dap) artist at the kitchen, nyc and is currently the artist-in-residence at ‘movement research nyc’. mayfield has performed and taught around the world. workshop & performance venues this year included: south africa, croatia, sedona, phoenix, san diego, los angeles, san francisco, seattle, vashon and waldron islands, western massachusetts and new york city. In 2021 they were awarded the Merce Cunningham Dance Award.
Mary Pearson is a performance maker and dancer/researcher working with Contact Improvisation and related dance practices, comedy, visual art, voice, and devising. Her solos solos FAILURE, The Sand Dog Cometh and FoMO, mofos! have toured internationally. Fascinated by collaboration as a complex and coordinated practice in survival, Mary is co- curator of Con|VERGE, REMIX collaborative performance residencies at Ponderosa Dance (DE). She teaches improvisation as a FAILURE Lab in universities and art contexts such as Improspecjie festival (Croatia), contactfestival Freiburg (Germany), WCCIJam and PADL West (CA, USA), Ponderosa P.O.R.C.H. summer school (Germany), and Live Art Bistro (UK). As a qualified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, she facilitates release of trauma held in the body.