Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Created by Martheya Nygaard (kNOwBOX dance Co-Creator & Managing Director)
February 2, 2022, Dallas, Texas, USA
In June 2021, I read the New York Times Article Artists on Artists to Watch, and Maybe Even Collect by Noor Brara. She stated, "The best direction one could give to someone interested in expanding their knowledge of contemporary art is to pay attention to what artists are paying attention to; artists always know before everyone else does.” After reading her article I immediately thought of the dance-related artists I have learned about through conversations with Dance Behind the Screen (DBS) podcast guests that have led to future connections and even interviews. To kick off the new year at kNOwBOX dance I have asked several established dance artists and past DBS guests for their recommendations on artists that we should all be watching.
ARTIST: Brenda Dixon Gottschild
Brenda Dixon Gottschild expressed to me via email “There’s NO WAY I can limit a recommendation to one artist!” This was a common response from many of the artists I reached out to for this blog post. This generous spirit is an exciting reminder of the endless possibilities of discovering artists that inspire and are finding ways to push boundaries for creativity.
Photo by Ryan Collerd, for the Pew Center for Arts&Heritage
ARTIST TO WATCH: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko @jaamil_means_beauty
NYC | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (they/he) is a multi-spirited Nigerian-American poet, curator, and performance artist originally from Detroit, MI. Jaamil’s work in performance is rooted in embodied ritual practice, poetics, Black critical studies, and queer theories of the body as a means to conjure and craft perpetual modes of freedom, healing, and care when/where/however possible.
Photo Credit Eric Carter
ARTIST TO WATCH: Thomas Talawa Prestø @tabanka
Tabanka Dance Ensemble provides audiences with an exclusive experience of expertly produced high-quality, contemporary dance work, which makes full use of the rhythm, vitality, culture and audience engagement practices of Africa and the Diaspora. Tabanka is firmly planted in the intersection between ground-breaking performance, artist development, education, community & youth engagement. Tabanka is internationally known as the seat of the Talawa Technique™, one of few fully codified African and Caribbean dance techniques.
ARTIST TO WATCH: Jungwoong Kim @aripapi2009
Jungwoong Kim has been a performance artist---a dancer, choreographer, designer, and film editor---for more than 20 years. Born and raised in South Korea, Jungwoong had extensive training in martial arts and Korean traditional dance and ritual, both of which strongly informs his artistic vision and aesthetic. Since 2014 he has been an artist in residence at Asian Arts Initiative (AAI) in Philadelphia. Through this residency, he received a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant. He was also awarded a 2015 multi-year grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for the creation of SaltSoul, a multi-disciplinary creative/performance project. In 2016 he was nominated for a 2017 Pew Fellowship.
Photo Courtesy of https://www.aha-k-pro.org/bio
ARTIST: Bettina Wagner-Bergelt
Bettina Wagner-Bergelt’s interest in innovative concepts in dance and other art forms inspired her recommendation, Richard Siegal's Ballet of Difference. His background in abstract dance, coming from the Forsythe Company (Ballet Frankfurt) as a dancer 15 years ago, he concentrates on pure dance and the physical possibilities of a human body. His second interest goes into virtual reality and he experiments very successfully with dance in this dimension (Like DAS TOTALE TANZTHEATER after W. Gropius, 360 degree, World premiere in the 100. Bauhaus Anniversary Festival, Berlin 2019, coop. with ARTE)
Photo Courtesy of
“I met him as an extremely gifted dancer, then as choreographer of smaller pieces. Then we collaborated and he found his way into huge formats. He created masterpieces for ballet companies in Munich, Marseille, Berlin, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, in the US and so on, collaborates with visual artists, actors, film and composers (Anish Kapoor, Alva Noto, C. Nicolai, Sandra Hüller etc...)
ARTIST TO WATCH: Richard Siegal/Ballet of Difference @balletofdifference
The Richard Siegal / Ballet of Difference company at Schauspiel Köln considers itself a joyful expression of a multicultural present and a forward-looking alternative to established institutions. In 2020 the entire BoD ensemble was nominated for the prestigious German theater prize, Der Faust, in the category “Best Performer”. Richard Siegal / Ballet of Difference have their roots in Munich and still maintain a close artistic relationship with the city. The U.S. choreographer and his company have since relocated to Cologne, their home of choice and centre of their working lives, where they’ve advanced to become the city’s ballet company.
Photo courtesy of Ballet http://balletofdifference.com
ARTIST: Su WenChi
WenChi shared how she and many artists in her community have been affected by the pandemic. Rather than recommending an artist to watch, WenChi recommended, a community of artists to watch and some guiding questions for artists to consider while navigating an isolated creative period.
“... almost every artist/person I [am] familiar with went through a profound change voluntarily or involuntarily. The call for solidarity may not only be in the precaution against the virus but also in performing arts, especially while we are facing most of the time, at home, online… How do we re-position ourselves now? Or what can we possibly do together [and how can we profit from] this “alone” time (without an audience as it used to be)?”
WenChi recommends Think School as a potential solution to these questions. “Sometimes it can be easier to work within a frame, especially in the educational program with a clear goal towards a particular result/production. Think School, offers a refocus on what you can do within this space of freedom/limitation, and [find] surprise by what grows out of your control. I learn[ed] to embrace the fact (again) that artists are [questioners] and live in uncertainty, and maybe, change can be soothing as well at the point when we start to believe the existing structure of art/life we built together is unshakable.”
ARTIST TO WATCH: Think School @riverlin1984
Think school is a project of cultural experimentation and talent cultivation initiated by the Taiwanese artist/curator River LIN and the notable Taiwanese dance educator Hui-wen WEN in the beginning of 2021. Focused on the performing arts and performance at large, the founders duo invited a small group of 4 artists, curators, scholars, and writers as “facilitators” to be in discussion with existing performing arts platforms/schools for young artists in Taiwan. Hoping to open up space again for reflection and critical thinking in this intriguing period of CHANGE, and talk about how artists conduct their research and nourish themselves as independent artists. Later they invited 9 young artists through an open call to join this collective, together they embarked on a journey with a shared interest in “ Before being a maker, an artist is at first a thinker.”. 2+4+9=14 members launched a yearly adventure with this motto to be discussed and embodied.
“Before an artist is a maker, he is a thinker first.”
Photo by Think School
ARTIST: Mesma Belsare
In a phone call conversation on September 8, 2021, Mesma expressed that it is hard to recommend this kind of artist right now as most of the artists she can think of are already receiving exposure on social media. With the click of a hashtag on TikTok or Instagram, we can easily access billions of dance-related videos from artists all over the world.
Talking with Mesma prompted my curiosity about some of the downfalls this access has for artists. Mesma shared “social media is there to garner clicks it’s not built on quality”. This isn’t to say that there isn’t quality dance happening online but perhaps more conversations about the tricky negotiation for artists who are focused on making the work not producing artistic content for followers should be considered. If you haven't already, give these artists a follow, check out their work, and consider ways you can support their contributions to the dance field.
Special thanks to the established artists for taking the time to share meaningful and thoughtful artist recommendations.
For all recommended resources by DBS guest, find show notes on www.knowboxdance.com/podcast
Artistic Expression, Covid-19, Self-Help, Social Justice, Women In Dance, Global Perspective