Ishmon has studied dance at Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts, M.A.D.D. Rhythms, Ballet Chicago, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT). He joined DRDT’s second company in 2007, where he continued professional training in Horton, Graham, Ballet, and African Pyragrammic and received choreography/leadership coaching. He has danced with DRDT’s first company since 2009 and serves as co-rehearsal director and co-founder/director of its Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase. He performs with Between Lines, Seamless Dance Theater, Ballet Chicago, and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company; teaches dance at Wirt/Emerson and Purdue University; and has choreographed for Ballet Chicago, South Shore Dance Alliance, and DRDT.

I believe that “Redefining BLACK” can make an important contribution to the conversation about some of the most challenging issues facing our city and country today, and I am grateful for the resources to make this concept a reality. I look forward to using the project to learn from the community and my fellow artists and sharing this learning and growth through the performances of the work and throughout my career.

—Joshua Ishmon, Artist Statement


Redefining BLACK: Transforming Perceptions through Conversation, Music, and Movement will explore the underlying history and emotions motivating often negative perceptions associated with the word/color/race “black” and use conversation, music, and movement to challenge and seek to transform this thinking. Research will include community discussions with diverse groups and expansion of Ishmon's movement vocabulary with leading artists in South African, West African, House, ballet, and contemporary dance. Ishmon will collaborate with jazz musician Sam “Trump” Harris to create an original score and choreography, which he will develop through workshops with dancers with and without formal training. Musicians will share the stage with dancers at final performances.

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Photos: Nijole Shuberg Photography | Joel Maisonet Photography | Stacy Patrice | Guy Rhodes.

Video: HMS Media