Performing Artist Case Studies
This Is an Invitation is part of jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham’s Let ‘im Move You decade-spanning series of performance and installation projects. Since 2009, jumatatu and Donte—with an extensive squad of collaborators—have centered their explorations of J-Sette movement and culture to explore recurring themes of intimacy, spectacle, belonging, organization, tenderness, and happiness. These performance and installation projects source J-Sette’s legacy of formatting call-and-response choreographies, social hierarchies, sensual and spectacular movement choreographies, and ornate rhythmic structures in order to activate playful and complex images of Black femininity and queer affection. Invitation juggles between two choreographed duets, both filmed at dawn in outdoor locations in Mississippi (Jackson and Hazlehurst) and Bahia (Salvador and Itaparica), respectively. The two duets—jumatatu and Donte in Mississippi, and Sebastião Abreu and Uoston Alcântara in Bahia—are both performed and auto-documented by the respective pairs, each framing self and environment as a means to create the terms for being seen. The project is choreographed by jumatatu and Donte, directed by jumatatu.
In the above video, jumatatu and Donte form a split screen, each sitting in their own living rooms. Smiling, they share a convivial moment between friends. jumatatu wears a two-toned furry hoodie draped around their head. Donte wears a black baseball cap and black-and-white vertical striped shirt. Towards the end of the recording, they share an impromptu duet, which jumatatu describes as a “queer slow jam… being slow together as a means to know about one another and ourselves.” A lyrical slow jam floods the space as they use their phones to multiply themselves.
In the “Table of Narrative Contents,” jumatatu provides a portal into their research of J-sette, emphasizing their interests in rhythm, pattern, and attention. In the complete document, these words hyperlink to a series of descriptions, videos, and notes revealing the world-building nature of this complex body of work, touching on aspects of the J-sette vernacular and the ways formations are coded with social belonging and potential.
jumatatu m. poe is an artist based in Philadelphia, who grew up dancing in the living room and at parties with his siblings and cousins. His “formal” training includes international traditional and contemporary dance techniques, with a personal focus on joy, physical health, and Black aesthetics. poe uses performance, media, and environmental location to create performance work that destabilizes notions of identity, especially Black queer identity. He remains interested in examining the space—or creating the space—within Black art forms for queer Black futures. Through the fabulation of alternate, or unreal, narratives of history and imagined futures, poe creates nuance, subtlety, and happiness in relationship to Black narratives frequently rooted in realities of extreme loss, invisibility or hyper-visibility, and erasure. For nine years, he has practiced with the Black queer art form, J-Sette, which first publicly emerged from majorette lines at historically Black universities. He approached the form as a court tradition, containing within it ideas about societal formation, hierarchy, and situating of a society within relationship to larger environments. External links: jumatatu.org, Creating New Futures.