Honey Pot Performance is a collaborative creative community committed to chronicling Afro-diasporic feminist and fringe subjectivities amidst the pressures of contemporary global life. HPP draws upon a central notion found both in performance studies and black feminist discourse: non-Western, everyday popular and/or folk forms of cultural performance are valuable sites of knowledge production and cultural capital for subjectivities that often exist outside of mainstream communities. This mission grows out of our collective passions and expertise as artists, scholars, educators, and activists, following in the footsteps of cultural workers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Beryl McBurnie, Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham.
HPP began as ThickRoutes Performance Collage in 2001. Our creative works dealt with issues of women creating safe “home” spaces (Home Stories, 2001); understanding the African diaspora’s conceptual and physical significance to local African American women (Bag Ladies, 2002); intercultural negotiations of race and nation/citizenship issues between the disparate cultures/nations of Trinidad/Caribbean and Chicago/America (Race Travels, 2004) and chronicling the Chicago house music and lifestyle scene (Househedz, 2006). Our creative process derived from a value in ideas of compromise, mutual understanding and respect for the right to difference as cornerstones of collaborative art making. Shifting between personal stories and larger macro-societal forces, TRPC’s works sought out the spaces where differences could lead to dialogue and transformed consciousness.
In 2010, we became Honey Pot Performance. Under the umbrella of HPP, we house a full spectrum of creative and critical works devoted to understanding performance as a way of knowing and dedicated to bringing the perspectives of women and people of color to the public sphere. Drawing on the symbiotic relationship between choreography and ethnography, Honey Pot Performance supports both embodied and text-based works that tell stories about communities. How can we better embrace the body and performance as sites of meaning making? How can we better understand the power of everyday stories?
In 2011, we premiered The Ladies Ring Shout, an embodied journey through contemporary women of color’s experiences using a combination of spoken word, movement, and an original soundtrack. Funded by a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, HPP produced The Sweet Goddess Project in 2011 and 2012, based on an ethnographically informed creative process exploring the gender, race, spiritual and sexual politics of Chicago house music and dance culture. HPP also co-curated To Art & Profit, a citywide performance festival presented through Links Hall’s Artistic Associates curatorial program exploring the relationship between art, culture and capitalism (March-May 2011). The festival combined performance, critical dialogue and public spectacle to speak to the value of creativity. The festival paired twenty-five Chicago-based artists across discipline and genre, asking them to create performances that extended the conversation about creativity’s value and purpose beyond the stage at into Chicago’s neighborhoods. The festival’s main challenge was to envision what collective social action looks like through a more diverse and democratic approach to artistic programming.
Works have been presented at Kenyon College, Columbia College Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, Northwestern University, University of California-Irvine, Malcolm X College, Links Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music, Collaboraction, Experimental Station, Kenyon College, Ohio University, the University of West Indies (Trinidad), and the University of North Carolina-Chapel-Hill.
Our performance schedule for 2013-2014 includes the premiere of Price Point, a remount of Ladies Ring Shout, a new iteration of our ongoing house music/dance projects Juke Cry Hand Clap, and the next cycle of the To Art & Profit festival.
Stay tuned. Stick with Honey Pot!