The Body Wails, The Body Restores

Event Type
Event Description
The Body Wails, The Body Restores will present two solo performances: #SAYHERNAME (2015/2016) by Vershawn Sanders Ward from Red Clay Dance and CONTINUUM OF ACTION (2015/2016) by Lela Aisha Jones from FlyGround.
Ward's riveting new solo work, #SAYHERNAME examines the criminalization of female black activists Angela Davis and Assata Shakur, drawing parallels to the present day arrest and subsequent death of Sandra Bland. The solo dancer finds herself in a confined space; both physically (inside a prison cell) and mentally, bound by her condition and perceived loss of POWER.
CONTINUUM OF ACTION (2015/2016) Lela Aisha Jones | FlyGround (Solo Work) Continuum of Action is a contemporary reflection upon the MOVE organizaiton’s efforts to live autonomously by growing their own food (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., 1985), The Craddock Four’s (Craddock, South Africa, 1985) efforts to give agency to their community against South African Apartheid, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission transcripts created after the Greensboro Massacre (North Carolina, U.S., 1979)—particularly the voices of the children.
Vershawn Ward, a movement artivist, is the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of Red Clay Dance Company based in Chicago, IL. Ward holds a MFA in Dance from New York University and the first recipient of a BFA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been presented at festivals in New York, Chicago, Kalamazoo, The Yard at Martha’s Vineyard, Toronto, Toubab Dialaw, Senegal, and Kampala, Uganda. She is a 2013 3Arts awardee and recipient of a 2009 Choreography Award from Harlem Stage NYC for the creation of her solo work, “New World Afrikan”, which premiered at the Dance Transmissions Festival in Kampala, Uganda.
Vershawn has served as an adjunct faculty member and facilitated residencies both nationally and internationally, at City Colleges of Chicago, the Dance Center of Columbia College, The University of Chicago, AS220, Knox College, and the National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda. Current touring work includes a new solo, “#SAYHERNAME”, an examination of the criminalization of female black activists Angela Davis and Assata Shakur and the connection to the arrest and subsequent death of Sandra Bland and “Written on the Flesh” her second evening length company work. NewCity Magazine recently selected Ward as one of the “Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago”. Committed to uplifting the work of emerging artists, she also curates La Femme: a bi-annual, four-day festival, presented in the month of March in celebration of Women’s History Month, that brings the work of black/African/African Diaspora female choreographers from around the country to Chicago stages. Ward also directs the company’s annual Dance4Peace|Community Hug Awards Concert, one of the few non-competitive youth dance festivals in the city that also honors three individuals from the community that are committed to impacting the lives of youth in Chicago through the arts.

Founded in July 2008 and based in Chicago, Illinois, Red Clay Dance is a professional touring company that creates and performs a diverse repertoire of Afro-contemporary dance which fuses traditional West African movement with contemporary dance forms. The company is a trendsetter for uniting elite professional dance creation and performance with a social consciousness that spills from the stage to the community. Red Clay possesses the unique ability to offer authentic engagement for dance through creating and performing work within marginalized communities. As a company, they embrace cross-cultural collaborations and have a clear vision to strengthen their local community through collaborative projects between African and Afro-Diaspora artists. Since its inception, Red Clay Dance has created and produced original works that have appeared in arts festivals around the world such as RAD Fest (2012), Dance Chicago (2011,2013), Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival (2011,2013), Dance Transmissions Festival/Uganda (2010), A.W.A.R.D.S Show/Joyce Soho NYC (2009), The Yard/Martha’s Vineyard (2007), L’Ecole Des Sables/Senegal (2008). The company has also self-produced six evening length concerts, “Written on the Flesh” (2016), “#SAYHERNAME” (2015) “ri’flekSHens in 6″ (2015), ” Transcending” (2013), “Celebrating Our Legacy” (2012) and “New Beginnings” (2011).

Lela Aisha Jones is a native of Tallahassee, FL who resides in Philadelphia, PA. She is a movement performance artist that has come to understand dance as an “archival practice” and her body “as an artistic archive—a creative storage space for movement and culture derived from the individual and collective lived experiences of blackness.” Lela is the founder of FlyGround, her creative home, where she cultivates her artistry that intertwines personal history, diasporic movement, social commentary, and interdisciplinary methods. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance at Florida State University and is a current doctoral candidate at Texas Woman’s University. Lela is a 2013 Dance USA Philadelphia Rocky Awardee, a 2015 Leeway Foundation Transformation Awardee and a member of the inaugural 2015 Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellows designed by leaders at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in NYC. In 2016, she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.
FlyGround is the creative home for the artistic work of Lela Aisha Jones and is a multi-initiative platform that currently houses Dancing for Justice Philadelphia (DFJ Philly) and The Requisite Movers (TRM). FlyGround creates spaces for cultivating a society with more nurtured, insightful, and harmonized human beings that center the body as intermediary spaces able to translate, process, and archive culture and lived experiences across generations.


Dance Styles
Modern / Contemporary
Traditional/Indigenous Dance


Links Hall

3111 N. Western Ave. at Constellation
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 281-0824