Living Past (Re)Memory - Off Ice

Living Past (Re)memory (2011 – remounted for the ice in 2013)

Deneane Richburg, Artistic Director & Choreographer

A duet, this work has been performed both for the stage and on the ice and is based on the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, which tells the story of the complicated relationship between Sethe and the ghost of her murdered eighteen year old daughter, Beloved.



by Toni Morrison

Having escaped Sweet Home, the Kentucky based plantation on which she was a slave and was tormented by Schoolteacher (the overseer) and his nephews, Sethe has relocated to 124 Bluestone Road, her mother in laws’ home outside of Cincinnati with her daughter, Denver. To keep her children safe from slavery, Sethe attempted to murder all four of them, succeeding in killing only the oldest daughter:

Simple. She just flew. Collected every bit of life she had made, all the parts of her that were precious and fine and beautiful, and carried, pushed, dragged them through the veil, out, away, over there where no one could hurt them. Over there. Outside this place, where they would be safe.” (Morrison, 1987)

The novel begins 18 years after these traumatic events; 124 Bluestone road is haunted by the baby ghost who is finally exorcised from the house by Paul D, another former Sweet Home plantation slave that has recently come to visit. One afternoon, Sethe, Denver, and Paul D discover an 18 year old woman sleeping in front of the house, who, by all appearances seems to be the physical manifestation of Sethe’s deceased daughter. As expressed by literary critic, Stephan Metcalf, this is a story of what Morrison terms “re-memory, a kind of psychic haunting in which the specifics of a traumatic incident are told and retold, even as the teller tries to block their full emergence into the conscious mind.”


 Shaness Kemp (Movement Artist)

Born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas,Shaness Kemp began dancing at the tender age of four at the Bahamas National Dance School; by the age six, she was then enrolled in Eurhythmics Studio, headed by Mr. Lawrence and Gabriella Carroll.Shaness received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2008 from Temple University where she also received her MFA in Dance. She has had the honor to train under the tutelage of a number of noted teachers and choreographers including Dr. Kariamu Welsh, Dr. Glory Van Scott, Ms. Pat Thomas, Dr. Rennie Harris, Wayne St. David, Delores Brown, Milton Myers, Kim Bears-Bailey , Kun-Yang Lin, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Bulareyaung Pagarlava at the American Dance Festival; additionally, she is member of Kariamu and Company, Philadanco’s Training Program and apprenticed with Rennie Harris Puremovement in 2009. Shaness was truly honored to be a part of this wonderful work and wished each beautiful mover and talented choreographer well.

Lela Aisha Jones is the Associate Artistic Director of Brownbody.

Lela is an artist scholar, movement performance artist, interdisciplinary collaborator and founder of Lela Aisha Jones | FlyGround, her creative home. A proud native of Tallahassee, FL, she feels quite fortunate to live and make dance in Philadelphia, PA. Lela’s work intimately intertwines personal and collective lived experiences of diasporic blackness as archived in and excavated with the body through dance.

Lela’s most recent choreographic and performance endeavors include Same Story Different Countries Project in Johannesburg and Cape Coast, South Africa (2017) directed by Dr. Lynnette Overby, Nia Love’s g(1)host: lost at sea at Gibney Dance (2019), Onye Ozuzu’s work at Dance Gathering in Lagos, Nigeria (2019), and a commissioned presentation of her work Plight Release and the Diasporic Body at the African American Museum of Philadelphia with, and in response to, the work of visual artist and scholar Fahamu Pecou (2019). Some of her most influential professional experiences have been in movement practice with Nia Love, Christal Brown | Inspirit, Barak Ade Sole, Moustapha Bangoura, Anssumane Silla, Sulley Imoro, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, and Urban Bush Women.

Lela earned a B.S. in Health Science Education from the University of Florida, an M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University, a Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University, and is a new member of the dance faculty at Bryn Mawr College. Her doctoral work was focused nomadic/migrating identities, diasporic citizenship, as well as collective philosophies and practices of integrity in Black and African diasporic dance teaching, choreography, and performance.

Her awards and honors include a 2015 Leeway Foundation Transformation Award and a 2016 Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Lela is grateful to continue her work as an artist scholar, movement performance artist, and interdisciplinary collaborator with Brownbody and as a member of the faculty in the Bryn Mawr College Dance Program.

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