CHICAGO — Rebuild Foundation, the arts, education and cultural development organization committed to transforming urban communities, announced today that Jenn Freeman, acclaimed Chicago-based performance artist otherwise known as Po'Chop, will be the 2020 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Artist in Residence at Rebuild and will offer two unique dance series, featuring a monthly burlesque classes and a burlesque showcase, as well as an artist talk that explores the themes of Blackness and pin-up culture through the lens of the works in the Johnson Publishing Company Library at the Stony Island Arts Bank. Rebuild and Chicago Dancemakers Forum partner to support the residency. Their residency will culminate in December 2020.
"We are thrilled to partner with Chicago Dancemakers Forum to bring Jenn Freeman, our 2020 Dancer in Residence, to Rebuild as we use this year to center Black queer bodies in our fight against the HIV/AIDS crisis," said Tregg Duerson, Chief Operating Officer at Rebuild Foundation. "Jenn's work elevates the Black image and the evolution of femininity while providing a physical language through which they explore the Black burlesque movement. We could not be more excited to partner with them this year."
Jenn Freeman's residency at Rebuild Foundation will explore notions of the erotic, femininity and spirituality. Engaging with the Johnson Publishing Company library and Jet's Beauty of the Week, Jenn will use the legacy of cartoonist Jackie Ormes as a launching pad to delve into black beauty standards, pin up culture, and the continued evolution of femininity. Through a series of workshops, conversations, performances and the debut of a short film, Jenn Freeman aims to encourage the celebration of the divine feminine.
"It is an honor to be an Artist in Residence at Rebuild," said Jenn Freeman. "Gaining access to the Johnson Publishing Library will allow me to further explore the evolution of black femininity and beauty standards while developing work that is harnessed by the legacy of cartoonist Jackie Ormes. I am excited to be leading a series of burlesque movement workshops that are aimed at encouraging a deeper appreciation and connection with one's power."
"Chicago Dancemakers Forum is thrilled to continue our strong partnership with Rebuild Foundation to forward the work dancemaking artists like Jenn who are deeply engaged with creative thought and practice," said Ginger Farley, Executive Director of Chicago Dancemakers Forum. "In the fifth year of this residency partnership, Rebuild amplifies the work that Chicago Dancemakers does by providing a physical home and community in support of artistic experimentation and the development of new work, a goal which serves both of our missions."
Rebuild Foundation, Chicago Dancemakers Forum and Jenn Freeman will partner to host monthly burlesque classes at the Stony Island Arts Bank in the Greater Grand Crossing community. These workshops will use Audre Lorde's essay "Use of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power" as a supplemental text to deepen the experience. The workshops will culminate in a burlesque showcase on June 27th at the Arts Bank.
For more information on Jenn Freeman's open sessions and other events, please visit www.rebuild-foundation.org/calendar .
About Rebuild Foundation
Rebuild Foundation is an arts, education and cultural development organization committed to transforming urban communities. Founded by artist Theaster Gates, the organization support artists and strengthens communities by providing free arts programming, creating new cultural amenities and developing affordable housing, studio and live-work spaces.
About Jenn Freeman | Po'Chop
Chicago-based performance artist Jenn Freeman | Po'Chop uses elements of dance, storytelling, and striptease to create performances and inspire students and collaborators across the country. Po'Chop has performed at the Brooklyn Museum in Brown Girls Burlesque's Bodyspeak, and headlined shows in New Orleans, Kansas City, Minneapolis, St. Louis and New York. Po'Chop is a Board Member & Cast Member, for Jeezy's Juke Joint, an all-black burlesque revue. Po'Chop performs on Netflix's Easy ( Season 2 ), appears in music videos for songs by Jamila Woods and Mykele Deville, and is a muse for co-created experimental dance films such as Home | Here. Po'Chop was selected as the recipient of the Chances Dances Mark Aguhar Memorial Grant in 2015, awarded as a 2017 3Arts Make A Wave Artist, selected as 2018 Chicago Dancemakers Lab Artist and as a 2019 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Fellow Candidate.
About Chicago Dancemakers Forum
Chicago Dancemakers Forum elevates the field of dance by being a catalyst for the artistic and professional growth of dancemakers, providing time and resources for in-depth exploration and creation. Through robust interaction among dancemakers and with the public, Chicago Dancemakers Forum builds broad support and appreciation for Chicago's diverse dance communities. The Lab Artists program makes $20,000 cash grants to choreographers annually. Grants are combined with mentorship throughout the research, development and performance of a newly choreographed work. Learn more at ChicagoDancemakers.org .
—From a press release