Gesel Mason
Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Director • MFA Alum
Dance

On leave AY 18-19

Room C331 University Theatre Building
261 UCB
Boulder CO, 80309-0261

 

Gesel Mason is a choreographer, performer, educator, and arts facilitator. She is Artistic Director for Gesel Mason Performance Projects and has been Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder since 2013. She was a company member of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance Projects. She has also performed with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah, and under the direction of Chuck Davis, Jacek Łumiński (Silesian Dance Theatre), Murray Louis, and Victoria Marks.

Mason’s solo project, NO BOUNDARIES: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers, has featured the work of Robert Battle, Rennie Harris, Donald McKayle, Bebe Miller, David Rousséve, Reggie Wilson, Andrea Woods, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. It received a National Dance Project Tour Only Grant in 2008/09 from New England Foundation for the Arts, two Metro DC Dance Awards in 2007, and was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and National Performance Network. The Washington Post noted: “Gesel Mason's one-woman show was the sort of performance that in any other realm would enshrine her among a select few standouts…an ambitious, riveting and impressively executed program”. NO BOUNDARIES continues to grow and evolve as a living archive. She is currently researching digital mediums to preserve and extend its legacy.

Mason utilizes dance, theater, humor, and storytelling to bring visibility to voices unheard, situations neglected, or perspectives considered taboo. Her interests include the performances of identity, sexuality, and the ways we create otherness. Her current creative research collides the genres and cultures of postmodern dance and erotic dance in an embodied effort to find and hold on to what Audre Lorde calls “the yes within ourselves” and to “touch our most profoundly creative source [in a way that is] female and self-affirming in the face of a racist, patriarchal, and anti-erotic society”.

In 2007, Mason received the Millennium Stage Local Dance Commissioning Project from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She was awarded University of Utah’s first Distinguished Alumna Award in Fine Arts and the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Pola Nirenska Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance in 2009. In 2011, Mason was one of six choreographers selected by the Joyce Theater for a Rockefeller Residency Initiative.

She has been Visiting Artist University of Utah, Texas Women’s University, Columbia College, University of Maryland at College Park, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, and Virginia Commonwealth University. She has served as an adjudicator for several American College Dance Festivals.

Numerous venues and festivals have presented Mason’s choreography including Joyce SoHo; 651 Arts; Bates Dance Festival; Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center; University of Albany, SUNY Potsdam, South Dallas Cultural Center; Painted Bride; Dance Place; the International Contemporary Dance Conference and Performance Festival in Bytom, Poland; DanceAfrica; and the International Association of Blacks in Dance.

As an arts facilitator Mason is often sought for her ability to use the arts to engage community. She traveled to Serbia and Poland to lead performances and workshop with dancers and non-dancers of mixed abilities including wheelchair users and partially blind participants. She has designed arts programs for schools and non-profit organizations, and created movement workshops for diverse populations.