If you’ve ever met the force that is Noelle Price, you won’t be surprised to learn that even in this season of perpetual demoralization, Price has been hustling to make. it. happen. Her multi-disciplinary arts organization, PRICEarts, is gearing up to kick off their digital season with a full month of ambitious programming, including some exciting new projects.
Available now is her piece, Remember Me Young Detroit Documented, streamable online in commemoration of Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, which will stay up through the end of September. Also honoring mental health awareness, the virtual Chester Price Gallery (named after Price’s late father—a photographer and musician) will feature community-submitted photographs on the complexities of mental health.
Both of these events speak to PRICEarts’ bread and butter: interdisciplinary, community-building art events rooted in socially conscious engagement. And their latest dance work, a collaborative creation between Price and arts leader Eve Sanford, does it all at once.
Sanford, Director of Programs at Pratt Fine Art Center, among other arts positions, is the kind of life-long creative who’s dabbled in almost every artistic discipline at one time or another. She primarily works and teaches as a visual artist, but coached pom and majorette squads in her 20s and 30s. Price and Sanford met a few years ago at an event for artist Barry Johnson, where they connected over being Black creative femmes, and the fact that one had an opening for a roommate, and the other happened to be looking for a place.
The two have lived together since, and perhaps in the home confinement that has been covid, a collaboration between these two super-creatives was all but inevitable. Listening to music in the car together, the new dance work, Remind|Remember, arrived to Sanford almost like a vision, complete with costumes and visual imagery. Something about the music—“The Wheel” by SOHN—captured the emotions of complex death—something Sanford has been experiencing personally in the last year. Between the pandemic, the political uprising, and the passing of a few loved ones, cyclical grief has become a state for Sanford that needed to make its way into art. “Any major emotion in my life—it’s resulted in making something,” Sanford says.
Luckily, her roommate has a dance company at her disposal, and encouraged Sanford to bring her vision to life. Sanford called on vocalist friend Pia Renee to create the sound score with Alex Musa Productions. And the visual elements, taking inspiration from Ellis Wilson’s famous painting Funeral Procession, influenced the costumes and jewelry for the work, which Sanford designed and constructed.
As for the choreography, it was fully a collaboration. Sanford would show Price Youtube clips that had the kinds of energy she was looking for, and provide word prompts—images and textures—from which Price made the choreography. Sanford was also “adamant about formations” says Price. Then she’d watch what Price had made, give feedback about how it fit or didn’t fit the vision, and Price would tweak. “It was cool to get out of my own brain and honor the vision that someone else had,” remarks Price, who described the process as organic, despite this being a new way of working for both of them. It helps, remarks Sanford, that they already know how to “attend to each other’s personality and needs” from living together.
Sanford describes Remind|Remember as a “grief and joy processing study…dealing with grief and coming back to joy and sense of self.” Price says the dancers have noted that “the work is the grief process,” not just about, but a manifestation of processing. Nine dancers, including PRICEarts company members and several guest artists, have been doing distance park rehearsals this summer, and are taking health precautions very seriously as they made this work into a film version that can be accessed online.
The big premiere is Saturday, September 19th at PRICEart’s First Look event. The event, which also features first access to the Chester Price photo exhibit “We are Not Expendable,” is an opportunity to engage with PRICEarts leadership and board of advisors, learn about the organization’s multi-faceted vision, and build a community of supporters. PRICEarts is ready to launch their digital season (along with a few possible pop-up performances) and Noelle Price has the passion and gumption to make it happen. Price is already beginning rehearsals for their next dance work, (Be)Safe, which is part of their Art for Change program. For this work, Price and her dancers will learn from two consultants who have experienced homelessness, and who will help inform the choreography.
For those unable to attend the First Look event, all programming will become available at a later date—Remind|Remember single tickets are on sale for the 25th—but the First Look event offers an opportunity to watch in community with others, and interact with the leadership of the organization. There has been increased attention in recent months to the importance of supporting Black-led organizations, and this is one to follow. As exemplified by just this month’s projects, PRICEarts not only serves as a platform for Price’s choreography, but also as a space that is actively opening doors for others.
For tickets to First Look, Remind|Remember, and We are Not Expendable, visit pricearts.co.