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Praise! Exploratory Workshop

March 10 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm



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Praise! Exploratory Workshop
Date: Sunday, March 10, 2024 3-5PM
Cost: FREE!
Space is limited, registration required.

Join Artists-in-Residence, Vincent E Thomas & Gabriel Thom Pasculli, to explore the material of Praise! as it is being developed. The performers and participants will engage in viewing and experimenting with prepared material from Praise! and in collective dialogue. The experience will be a mixture of a performance, a story circle, and a dinner party!

Praise! is co-created and performed by Vincent E Thomas of VTDance and Gabriel Thom Pasculli in collaboration with Desiré Graham | Created with the support of NPN Creation Fund, co-commissioned by Bethany Arts Community, Sandglass Theater, and The Baltimore Theater Project.

Praise! is an immersive event exploring self and spirit through a child’s experience of Church. Moments of dance, song, testimony and confession are interwoven through collective dialogue and story sharing. Praise! opens the door into a conversation around body, queerness, and sacred celebration in a way that takes nothing for granted. While the two performers crisscross memories and fantasies of divine encounters, the piece asks how we reconcile past experiences to make new meaning for the present.

Vincent E Thomas is a Black gay man, a professional dancer, and arts educator whose dance company, VTDance, just celebrated its 20th Anniversary in Baltimore. Vincent grew up in Edgefield, SC where he sang joyfully (and dutifully) in the choir at his Southern Baptist Church, and yet he felt as though he had to spend much of his adult life washing the church from his soul.

Gabriel Thom Pasculli is a queer, white-bodied and second-generation Italian-Irish-American, an ensemble theater-maker and arts educator who has been working in Chicago. Gabriel Thom grew up in the Catholic Church in New Jersey and has spent his adult life seeking the mystical experience he failed to find in the religion of his childhood.

Both artists are returning to a time they thought they had left behind. They are returning to the tender questions they developed as young people, torn between their inner desires and the confounding morality of their Christian communities. With great curiosity, intimacy, risk and availability, Praise! is asking how we reconcile those past experiences and conflicted parts of our younger selves to make new meaning in the present.

Developed at Dartmouth College’s VoxLab and at Art Omi in New York State, an excerpt of Praise! was featured as part of VTDance’s 20th Anniversary Concert at The Baltimore Theater Project in April 2023.


About The Artists
The project’s current ensemble of collaborators includes Desiré Graham, a New Haven-based project facilitator working in original theater and musical performance, and Malia’Kekia Nicolini, a Massachusetts-based dancer, choreographer, artistic director and educator. Additionally, the work is being developed with Dwayne Hess, a Baltimore-based spiritual guide who will be advising the project in the creation of community dialogues.

Vincent E. Thomas, dancer, choreographer and teacher, received his MFA in Dance from Florida State University and a BME in Music from the University of South Carolina. He has danced with Dance Repertory Theatre (FSU), Randy James Dance Works (NY/NJ), EDGEWORKS Dance Theater (DC), and Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (MD). His choreography has been presented at various national and international venues including DUMBO Festival (NY), Velocity Festival (DC), Modern Moves Festival (DC), Philly Fringe (PA), Edinburgh Fringe Festival (UK-Scotland), Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, Avignon, France, Athens, Greece, Bari, Italy, Copenhagen, Denmark, Shanghai, Taipei, and Singapore. He received rave reviews for his performance of “Come Change” (2012) and “iWitness” (2014) in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland). Theater credits: Movement Coach/Choreographer for Everyman Theater’s Brother’s Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney in Baltimore, MD (2012), Mosaic Theatre’s Unexplored Interior by Jay Sander in Washington, DC (2015), and Everyman Theater’s Los Otros by Ellen Fitzhugh in Baltimore, MD (2017), and Associate Choreographer/Movement Coach for Williamstown Theater Festival’s Most Happy in Concert in Williamstown, MA (2022) directed by Daniel Fish. He is the Artistic Director/Choreographer of the national touring What’s Going On project. Vincent was awarded the 2017 Pola Nirenska Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance (DC), the 2019 University System of Maryland Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity, the 2020 MDEA Living Legacy Award, a 2021 William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund Awardee, and a 2023 Black History Month Honoree for Richland District II (SC). Vincent is the Associate Choreographer for the INTELLIGENCE Opera, written and conceived by Jake Heggie, Gene Sheer, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, premiere at Houston Grand Opera. He is an Urban Bush Women BOLD Facilitator, faculty member for the UBW Summer Institutes (NY), and Professor of Dance at Towson University (MD).

His multi-dimensional company VTDance builds on the use of contemporary dance, improvisation, text/ movement, a variety of sound sources, and collaborations with other artists, including dancers, musicians, poets, visual artists, and others [to be discovered]. These ideas coupled with witty, poignant, athletic and gestural movement are the rich palette for VTDance. www.vtdance.org

Gabriel Thom Pasculli (he/they) is a US/Turtle Island-based performance artist, teacher, and theater director. Exploring the intersections of performance and decolonial praxis through body, change and belonging, Gabriel Thom embraces interdisciplinary processes of co-creation. For eight years, Gabriel Thom was an artistic director of Walkabout Theater in Chicago (now called Wender Collective), with whom Gabriel Thom directed a series of outdoor public stilt spectacles as well as internationally-touring ensemble performances acclaimed as “surreal,” “sublime,” “gorgeous and exhilarating.” During the same period Gabriel Thom was a founding co-director of VoxFest, an annual summer festival of innovative new works-in-progress at Dartmouth College. Recently, Gabriel Thom was the creative producer at Sandglass Theater in Putney, VT, a puppet theater dedicated to social dialogue. Gabriel Thom has been teaching actor training, movement and voice, and co-creation for ten years; and they are currently teaching at the University of IL in Chicago and the University of Chicago. Gabriel Thom is a certified teacher of Fides Krucker’s Emotionally Integrated Voice pedagogy, and they recently graduated from Goddard College’s MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts program with a concentration in Decolonial Arts Praxis and Performance Creation. Other Chicago directing credits include work with Red Tape Theatre, Trap Door Theatre, Oracle Productions, Redmoon and Steppenwolf Theatre. Additional influences include study at the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Italy, the Odin Teatret in Denmark, and Double Edge Theatre in Massachusetts. www.gabrielthom.com

Desiré Graham is a performer, director, dramaturg and arts administrator. She sings to connect to a past that is not just her’s, but a history of many. She writes to reconcile the shade and the sun. She collaborates, in a constant search for those who also feel the tug to be elsewhere. From 2019-2022, she was based in Tuscany, Italy as a company member at the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards. Currently based in the U.S., Graham commits to the cultivation of artistic spaces that foster transparency, active listening and anti-oppressive practices as a requirement. In alignment with these values, Desiré works with Double Edge Theatre and VLA Dance as a recurring artistic collaborator. Additionally, she curates a space for black queer performing artists to create inside of The Black Residency. Graham also hosts a workshop series entitled, Somewhere in Between, an invitation for BIPOC and ALAANA New Haven residents to discover the use of communal singing, give weight to their vibrational soul, activate, and call on others to join in. She is freely in-process, if you have any questions about what she’s done or where she’s been, please ask about it to be about it.

This event is a Residency Community Program. As part of a residency at BAC, we ask each artist to build and facilitate a Community Program. Community Programs are a unique opportunity for both artists-in-residence and our local community to gather, engage, and be in conversation with one another through art. Community Programs are free engagements open to the public and/or in collaboration with a local community partner.

Photo Credit: Vincent E. Thomas and Gabriel Thom Pasculli, Photographer Rob Strong


March 10
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Categories:
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Bethany Arts Community
914 944-4278
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Bethany Arts Community
40 Somerstown Rd.
Ossining, NY 10562 United States
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