News: New York Live Arts Presents NY Premiere of Shamel Pitts | TRIBE’S "Touch of RED"

Tushrik Fredricks and Shamel Pitts in TOUCH OF RED at MCA Chicago, April 2023. © Jeremy Lawson Photography, courtesy of MCA Chicago

Beginning April 27th, New York Live Arts (Live Arts) will present the New York premiere of Touch of RED, a new work by the award-winning movement artist Shamel Pitts, co-created and performed by his Brooklyn-based arts collective TRIBE. Drawing inspiration from two distinct arts requiring rapid-fire footwork – boxing and the African-American jazz dance style Lindy Hop – this ten-round duet is performed by Pitts and Tushrik Fredericks, who debuted with the Afrofuturistic collective in the critically-acclaimed 2022 show BLACK HOLE: Trilogy and Triathlon. Set in a stylized ring designed by the 2015 McArthur Fellow Mimi Lien and featuring cinematic video mapping by Lucca Del Carlo, lighting by the veteran Australian designer Rus Snelling, original music by Sivan Jacobovitz, and costumes by the acclaimed experimental fashion star Dion Lee, Touch of RED examines the way Black men are perceived and perceive themselves in contemporary society and how masculinity and vulnerability can be reconciled in a non-competitive, compassionate, and healing way.

The multidisciplinary piece, developed as part of Live Arts’ Live Feed creative residency and commissioning program, as well as in a series of art residencies, and first performed at MASSMoCA in 2022, will have its NYC premiere at the New York Live Arts Theater (219 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011) on Thursday, April 27th, Friday, April 28th, and Saturday, April 29th, 2023 at 7:30 pm. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at NewYorkLiveArts.org or 212-691-6500, on sale now.
Tushrik Fredricks and Shamel Pitts in TOUCH OF RED at MCA Chicago, April 2023. © Jeremy Lawson Photography, courtesy of MCA Chicago
Shamel Pitts remembers the origins of the work: “When I returned to the US, there was a lot of boxing on TV, and watching it, I never understood the appeal of two men beating the crap out of each other– especially two men of color; I found it revolting. But in my mind, every time I feel repulsion, I am also curious to dig deeper. A closer look at great boxing matches of legendary athletes like Muhammad Ali revealed something unexpected – a layer of camaraderie, almost tenderness, a kind of touch that felt profound, vulnerable, and consoling. At the same time, the form intrigued me: the footwork in boxing is often a reason why great fighters are described as “dancing in the ring”. (…) In Touch of RED, it’s important that the audience sits around the “ring” when it happens - we want them to feel a level of participation, closeness and warmth that is not theatrical, but rather a primordial gathering.” You can see more from Pitts, along with Fredericks, on the show in this video: 
The award-winning set designer Mimi Lien adds: “I felt a real kinship with Shamel when we first started talking about the design for Touch of RED – I was excited to realize that we both think about the nature of an event in spatial terms… and for this particular event, asking what an expansive definition of ‘Arena’ could be. We asked ourselves: what modes of viewing could be designed to allow for both the public spectacle of boxing, as well as the intimacy of a tender duet between these two men?”

Touch of RED is the third installment of the "RED Series," comprising video art film, art residency, installation, and live performance projects. It has been conceived and executed entirely by TRIBE collective and choreographer Shamel Pitts, largely during the COVID pandemic which brought the need for community and togetherness front and center. Named after Pitts’ childhood nickname and inspired by warmth and closeness, it continues the collective company’s research on the colorfulness within blackness.

See the trailer here:
Artistic Team
Concept Direction & Choreography by: Shamel Pitts
Performers: Tushrik Fredericks & Shamel Pitts
Artistic Production Manager & Lighting Designer: Rus Snelling
Video Light & Mapping Designer: Lucca Del Carlo
Set Designer: Mimi Lien
Costume Designer: Dion Lee
Costume Stylists: TT Britt & Tushrik Fredericks
Shoe Apparel - Fulton Cobbler (Brooklyn) - customized “gloves”
Original Musical Score: Sivan Jacobovitz
Dramaturge: Ashley Pierre-Louis
Lindy Hop Instructor: LaTasha Barnes
Cinematographer: Taylor Antisdel
Creative Director: Mirelle Martins

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