The Alabama Dance Festival presents
KM Dance Project
January 21, 2024
Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center
Raw Fruit is a multidisciplinary work led by Kesha McKey, Artistic Director of KM Dance Project and Catherine Caldwell, Associate Director of KM Dance Project. It is a collection of stories that reveal the essence of ancestral values which have been woven into the cultural fabric of Black folks’ lives. This work examines legacy, identity, socialization, unity, and friction inside the Black family dynamic. KMDP delves deep to expose the impact of race, class, gender and sexuality on maternal relationships and track how the retention of cultural values, morals and taboos have shaped the current existence of Black people in the south. They reflect on the elements that have contributed to their unique traditions and multifaceted ways of life, unveiling family and community values that are seldom challenged or contradicted. Raw Fruit is steeped in New Orleans culture and layered with visceral movement created from the female lens of the African American experience in the south. From crawfish boils to second lines, living room altars to junior daughters, and bread pudding to pecan pralines, these experiences, rituals and ancestral contributions have created a web of lineage connecting present experiences with customs rooted in the past. “We recognize and value what we have acquired, what we release, what we hold and what we will share with those who come after us.” – Kesha McKey
Kesha McKey, Artistic Director & Choreographer
(she/her), Artistic Director of KMDP, is an African American female performing artist, choreographer and educator born and raised in New Orleans. After graduating from NOCCA she received her BS in Biology pre-med from Xavier University of LA and an MFA in Dance Performance from UW-Milwaukee. She is the founding Artistic Director KM Dance Project which she created to serve as a vehicle to establish her own choreographic voice. KMDP has now evolved into an essential platform providing opportunities for emerging Black choreographers in N.O. to realize artistic expressions that intersect art and social justice. KMDP gives agency to the voices of Black dancers and choreographers in New Orleans creating art that illuminates racial injustices, inequity, and celebrates the history, culture, and the untold stories of African American people.
Kesha’s work with KMDP includes self-produced concerts such as Journeys, Moving Through, Vessels, Taken and Distorted Images for which she received several Big Easy Classical Arts Awards and nominations. Her most recent work, Raw Fruit, has received a 2021 National Performance Network Creation Fund Award and a 2019 New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project Production Grant – being the first dance company in the state of Louisiana to receive this award. Raw Fruit will premiere at the Contemporary Arts Center, N.O. in December 2022 and will begin a national tour thereafter starting at BAAD! in the Bronx, N.Y. Kesha has also had the honor of presenting choreographic works for the 2019 National Performance Network Conference, 2018 Urban Bush Women Summer leadership Institute, 2018 Women in Dance Conference at New York University, the Packard Foundation 2018 Summit, Junebug Production’s Power of the Black Feminine, Alternate Roots’ 2016 Roots Week, the Peridance Capezio Center 2016 APAP Showcase, the Big Bang Educational Conference, the Courageous Conversations Summit, the Guantanamo Public Memory Project and the Dance for Social Change Festival.
Kesha is currently the Director of Arts and a Dance Instructor at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, a dance instructor for Team Pointe at Dancing Grounds and a UBW BOLD Facilitator. Her recent performance credits include: Urban Bush Women’s Hair and Other Stories tour, Junebug Productions Gomela:to return tour, Junebug Productions Homecoming Project and the Lula Elzy N.O. Dance Theatre. Her recent choreographic credits include: NPN Conference Showcase, UBW SLI Opening, Women in Dance Conference, Junebug Production’s Power of the Black Feminine, Alternate Roots Week, Peridance APAP Showcase. Her recent awards include: 2022 Dance/USA DFA Fellowship, 2022 UBW CCI 2.0 CCI Alum, 2021-22 NPN Creation & Development Fund, 2020 CAC N.O. SweetArts Award, 2019 NEFA NDP Production Grant, a 2018/19 CAC Southern Crossings Artist Residency, and a 2016 Dancing While Black Fellowship.