RUNNING TIME: 50 minutes

Choreography: Banning Bouldin with improvisation by New Dialect

Original Score: “Lilt” composed by Cristina Spinei + Sound Riot

Dancers: James Barrett, David Flores, Mary Ruth Isbell, Erin Kouwe, Rosemarie Mientka, Emma Morrison, Becca Place, Sarah Salim, Rebecca Steinberg, Curtis Thomas

Lighting design: Scott Leathers

Wardrobe design: Jamie + the Jones & Banning Bouldin

Set design sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee



New Dialect is a collective of twelve artists, who gather together daily to exchange ideas and create dances. We are black, white, latino, Moroccan, Filipino, Jewish, gay, straight, men, women, christians, atheists, agnostics, yogis, buddhists, and believers in science. And, we have each experienced the benefits of privilege and the pain of discrimination due to the color of our skin, our gender, our sexual orientation, our culture, and our beliefs. To create H E A P, we challenged ourselves to dive into the characteristics that define us, look squarely at our privilege and experiences with discrimination, and to share what we found with one another.

This creative process took courage. We wrote personal statements about who we are, what we hope, and what we fear. We researched news headlines, social media, scientific articles, religious texts, and other forms of literature for words that we believed were true, for editorials that were hyperbolic and manipulative, for commentary that attacked us, and for posts that we identified with and that gave us comfort. 

We compiled these source materials and our own writings to compose abstract poems that tell each artist’s story of self-defined and socially assigned identity. The syllabic rhythm of our written words and the imagery evoked through our poetry became the ultimate source for developing the gestures and partnerships of this piece. 

The set for H E A P is inspired by visual artist and frequent New Dialect collaborator Emily Clayton and her latest dance film The Dig, which takes place in a thrift store in Savannah, Tennessee. The piles of clothes on stage serve as both our mise-en-scene and a metaphor for us. With each shirt, skirt, and jacket, we try on and cast off social norms, stereotypes, otherness, oppression, and the expression of our true selves. 

H E A P has allowed us to engage in meaningful conversations as a collective striving to embrace our differences and celebrate our diversity. As we perform our work, we hope to communicate what we experience together in the studio everyday: 

People who believe differently, look differently, speak differently, and experience life differently can come together with deep appreciation and respect for one another.

Video footage direction by Robert Gordon, Jr.

Filmed at Tennessee Performing Arts Center's James K. Polk Theater