Not About Race Dance

Gerald Casel
December 2-4 and 9-11, 2021 Thursday, 7:30 pm; Friday, 7:30 pm; Saturday at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
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Not About Race Dance is an evening-length work that critiques the unmarked predominance of whiteness in US postmodernism. It cites Neil Greenberg’s Not About AIDS Dance (1994) to draw a connection between the silence around the AIDS epidemic and the unacknowledged racial politics of postmodern dance. Occupying a space that has been historically defined by white artists, Casel and his collaborators present a contrasting vision that contests the structural endurance of white postmodern dance by centering Black and Brown dance artists. The work also disidentifies with the aesthetic tropes of postmodern dance such as white abstraction as in the white cube activated by Trisha Brown’s Locus and the ‘ordinariness’ of Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A. The work asks how these differences can be made visible through choreographic structures that do not historically make space for Black and Brown bodies.

As part of these performances and as a complementary experience that deepens audience engagement with Not About Race Dance, the company invites audiences to Dancing Around Race, a longtable discussion on racial equity. Since 2018, Casel has been developing Dancing Around Race, a community-engaged participatory gathering that holds space for candid conversations about race and racism.


Dancing Around Race began in 2018 when I was invited by Hope Mohr’s Bridge Project to conduct a Community Engagement Residency. Rather than creating a performance or a mentorship platform, I wanted to ask questions about issues of racial equity in the dance ecology in the Bay Area. I wondered why there was such an over-representation of white-led organizations, white teachers, and white decision-makers in the middle of what was supposed to be a diverse and progressive part of the country. I wanted to bring people together to be in dialogue about the harmful effects of systemic racism, especially for people of color. Using a systems-thinking approach, I brought together a cohort of Black and Brown dance artists to hold space for difficult conversations with everyone from the field including dance artists, presenters, funders, dance writers, and educators so that we can understand the interdependent nature of our practices and so that we can see how our words and actions (or silence and inaction) affect the material conditions of our livelihoods.” – Gerald Casel
Dancing Around Race will take place on Tuesday, December 7 at 7:00 pm at CounterPulse’s Main Stage Theater and is free of charge.

On-demand streaming of the performance will be available for online viewing from December 15-31, 2021. More information to follow.


Choreography and Direction by Gerald Casel (in collaboration with the performers)

Performed by Styles Alexander, Gerald Casel, Audrey Johnson, Karla Quintero, and Cauveri Suresh

Live Sound Design by Tim Russell

Lighting and Media Design by Aron Altmark

Dramaturgy by Rebecca Chaleff

Get Tickets Here




Styles Alexander (they/them) is an emerging choreographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Styles Graduated from the Boston conservatory, where they graduated with a B.F.A in contemporary performance and choreography. While attending the  Boston Conservatory, Styles performed and collaborated in creative processes with choreographers such as Andrea Miller, Robert Moses, Dwight Rhoden, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Doug Varone and more. Styles has also had the honor of performing repertory by Ohad Naharin, Idan Sharabi, Robin Aren, and William Forsythe  Styles is currently in collaboration with Kristin Damrow & Company, located in San Francisco.

Styles’ choreographic work is centered in the continuing practice of examining and healing trauma that resides in the body, as a product of survivors of  both chattel slavery and the continued genocide of indigenous people on what is now known as The United States.  Styles’s work has been featured in Urbanity NeXt Emerging choreographers series, DougVarone’s DEVICES, and most recently Jess Curtis’ Gravity Pop Up Performance  project. Their creative practice is moved by the development of emotional and conceptual statehood  through a practice focused on corporal ferocity, and improvisation as a tool for physical and spiritual liberation. 

Aron Altmark (he/him) is a CalArts Alumnus and first fell in love with light attending fine arts high school and through a camera lens. His first endeavors were in theatre and dance lighting before working in concerts, nightlife, and live entertainment. From 2010-2013, he produced independent light art / creative code works and freelanced as a programmer on various projects before joining SJ Lighting in 2013. Aron worked alongside SJ Lighting owner and principal designer Stephen Lieberman programming and assisting with designs on large-scale EDM festivals as well as working on SJ Lighting’s new nightclub installations all over the country. Since establishing his company Visual Endeavors, Aron has been working on projects across the spectrum of live entertainment — from designing concert experiences for artists including Logic, Tiesto, Dillon Francis, and The Chainsmokers to working on dance performances with Gerald Casel, interactive installations, and developing VR experiences. Visual Endeavors just created a public art installation on the Soquel Bridge in Santa Cruz, CA in May of 2018.

Gerald Casel (he/they/siya) is a Bay Area-based dance artist, equity activator, and antiracist educator. As director of GERALDCASELDANCE, his choreographic work complicates and provokes questions surrounding colonialism, collective cultural amnesia, whiteness and privilege, and the tensions between the invisible/perceived/obvious structures of power. Casel is an Associate Professor of Dance and is the Provost of Porter College at UC Santa Cruz. A graduate of The Juilliard School with an MFA from UW Milwaukee, they received a Bessie award for sustained achievement. Casel founded Dancing Around Race, an ongoing community engaged-participatory process that interrogates systemic racial inequity in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Rebecca Chaleff (she/they) is a dance scholar, performer, and dramaturg. Her research merges critical theory with practice to engage questions around the relationships between embodiment and representation. Her current book project analyzes how reperformance and legacy building projects shape and are shaped by the politics of race and sexuality. In particular, the manuscript engages with the affective attachments of queer and racialized histories to question how choreographic claims to artistic afterlives reinforce sociocultural hierarchies that privilege whiteness and homonationalism. Rebecca’s writing has appeared in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes, including Dance Research Journal, TDR/The Drama Review, and The Futures of Dance Studies. As a dancer, she has had the pleasure of performing with Pat Catterson, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company Repertory Understudy Group, Douglas Dunn and Dancers, Molissa Fenley and Company, and the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, among others. She has been working with Gerald Casel as a dancer and dramaturg since 2013.

Audrey Johnson (she/her) is a queer Black mixed-race movement artist with roots from Detroit and Plymouth Michigan, currently rooting in Oakland, CA. She is a performer, teacher, writer, and farmer. Audrey’s work is in deep nonlinear relationship to a lineage of queer Black feminist praxis and is committed to creating space for Black healing and liberation. Her performance work has been presented at FRESH Festival (San Francisco), The Arab American National Museum via Daring Dances (Dearborn, MI), Sidewalk Arts Festival (Detroit, MI), FROLIC Queering Dance Festival and 2727 California Street (Berkeley, CA); she has collaborated and performed with artists such as Jennifer Harge (Detroit), Biba Bell (Detroit), Gerald Casel (San Francisco), and Stephanie Hewett (Oakland). She is a co-founding member of Collective Sweat Detroit, an organization holding spaces for dance in Detroit, and holds a BFA in Dance with Honors from Wayne State University. 

Karla Quintero (she/her) is a Latin-American, Oakland-based artist whose work explores themes of intimacy, consumption, biculturalism, and defamiliarization. Dance improvisation is her primary tool, but her creative work orients beyond dance. She performs in the works of other artists, most recently works by Gerald Casel, Catherine Galasso, and Hope Mohr. She also co-directs The Bridge Project, an equity-driven presenting platform. |

Tim Russell (he/him) lives at the confluence of the aural and the visual. He currently serves as Music Director for the University of Wisconsin’s Dance Department. In 2019, Tim was selected as one of the Cowles Visiting Artists at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, a first for a Musician in the field of Dance. He has a vast catalogue of works specifically for choreography, most of which exist live, in collaboration with movement. His commitment to the nowness in performance led him to co-create/curate, along with choreographer Maria Gillespie, Hyperlocal MKE, a Music and Dance improvisation series that exists to this day in Milwaukee. His current curatorial project: Common Sage Arts, promotes multidisciplinary artists through carefully curated performances. Along with Tim’s long time collaboration with the Gerald Casel Dance Company, his audio shares the stage with choreographic artists such as: Kate Corby, Abby Crain, Danceworks Maria Gillespie, Holly Johnston, Stephan Sara Shelton Mann, Li Chiao Ping, Liz Sexe, Marlene Skog, Wildspace Dance and Jin Wen Yu, bringing Tim and his music across the world from Dock 11 in Berlin to YBCA in San Francisco. He holds an MFA in Music Improvisation from Mills College in Oakland, California, where he studied improvisation, electronic music and composition with the likes of Fred Frith, Roscoe Mitchell and Zeena Parkins. His 2020 album: “Junct”, a collection of improvisational duets with bassist Ari Smith, was included in Tone Madison’s top 20 records of 2020.

Cauveri Suresh (he/she/they) is an artist from the Bay Area. They graduated cum laude from Barnard College in 2018 with a B.A. in dance, and have studied with Joanna Kotze, Jodi Melnick, David Parker, Okwui Okpokwasili, Christina Robson, and Doug Varone among others. Cauveri has performed with Lauren Simpson Dance at Minnesota Street Project, with Kickbal at ODC, and with Leah Samuels at Movement Research. Currently, they work with Risa Jaroslow, Gerald Casel, Emma Lanier, and Ky Frances. Cauveri is also a childcare worker and visual artist. They work with Vibhuti Arya Amirfar as a consultant on workplace equity practices for organizations across the U.S.

Not About Race Dance is made possible with generous support from New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project Production Grant Community Engagement Fund, National Dance Project Production Residencies for Dance Grant, Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, The National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron, San Francisco Arts Commission, CA$H grant, Kenneth Rainin Foundation NEW Grant, UCSC Arts Research Institute, and The Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship.


All people entering our facility will be expected to complete this COVID-19 Waiver.

There will be no concessions sold on site and all people will be expected to refrain from eating and drinking indoors.

All audience members and staff will be expected to wear a mask at all times. Performers may be unmasked while performing.

Proof of vaccination and ID will be required at the door. Please see acceptable forms of proof of vaccination here

Indoor events at CounterPulse will be capped at 50% capacity (54 tickets available).

CounterPulse is equipped with a building-wide heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system that constantly displaces interior air with filtered air from outside.


December 2
December 11