Set Free: J'Sun Howard + Keisha Bennett + Jessica Marasa & Katie Ernst

J'Sun Howard

J’Sun Howard is a Chattanooga native and a Chicago-based dancemaker and poet. J’Sun has recently received the Sybil Shearer Fellowship and residency at Ragdale Foundation, a nomination to participate in an emerging artist laboratory at Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC), and a 2017 3Arts Award nomination. A 2014 Chicago Dancemaker’s Forum Lab Artist awardee, his choreography has appeared at multiple venues such as Links Hall, Northwestern University, Sonotheque, Lincoln Square Theatre, Insight Arts/Center for New Possibilities, Epiphany Church, Rumble Arts, Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery, Patrick’s Cabaret (MN), and​ ​Poets Theater Festival(CA).
J’Sun has performed for many choreographers including Malcolm Jason Low, Asimina Chremos, Sara Wookey, Paige Cunningham, Selene Carter, but most extensively with collaborators Darrell Jones and Damon Green.

Jessica Marasa

Jessica Marasa is a producer, improviser and dance performance artist based in Chicago. She is the founder of The Watering Can and her works have been seen at Links Hall, Hamlin Park, Stage 773 and Signal Ensemble Theater. The culminating performance of her recent series Jewel Tones: SPECTRUM was named one of the Chicago Tribune’s Dance Top Ten of 2015 by Laura Molzhan. She has collaborated with Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak since 2008 and had the pleasure of performing alongside Chicago’s creative talents including Ayako Kato, Onye Ozuzu, Kristina Isabelle and Khecari Dance Theater.

Katie Ernst

Katie Ernst is a bassist, vocalist, and composer from Naperville, IL. As both a bassist and vocalist, Katie has performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, and Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, among others. In 2013 and 2014, Katie was one of 24 young artist-composers selected for the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program, an international jazz residency program at the Kennedy Center under the direction of pianist and MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran. In May 2014, she performed at the Chicago Symphony Center as part of Jason Moran's Looks of a Lot premiere, which also featured Nasheet Waits, Tarus Mateen, Ken Vandermark, Theaster Gates, and Kenwood Academy Jazz Band.

Katie is an active bandleader and side-woman in Chicago. She regularly composes and performs with the band TWIN TALK, alongside co-leaders Dustin Laurenzi (saxophone) and Andrew Green (drums). She is currently working on a new duo project called Wayfaring with clarinetist James Falzone. Wayfaring will release their debut recording, I Move, You Move, in early 2017 on the Allos Documents label and was included on Constellation's 2015 compilation Nine/Two, featuring many of Chicago's finest jazz and improvised music artists.

Katie Ernst - bass and voice

"An increasingly valuable figure in new-music Chicago" -Chicago Tribune

" of the brightest lights on Chicago's jazz scene" —Chicago Reader

Keisha Bennett

Keisha Bennett (performer/choreographer)- Originally from Georgia, Keisha Bennett graduated with a BFA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago where she currently works as a Teaching Artist and Office Assistant for Community Engagement Projects. She dances with BraveSoul Movement and the Project Tool in collaboration with Onye Ozuzu. She has performed in shows like Chicago Jazz Festival at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, The Seldom’s Power Goes at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, American College Dance Association at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.



Better Versions of Prayers
Choreographed by J’Sun Howard
Performed by Dedrick “Deddy Bank” Gray

Working on Better Versions of Prayers makes a space for black boy joy.  A poetic testimony that miracles erupt at any moment. Through self-portraits, ecstasy, and forms of floating–disappearing, hollowing, and possession–this work also flirts with notions of divine radical presence and how it holyficates.

Improvised by Keisha Bennett

Composed and Improvised by Katie Ernst & Jessica Marasa

Evergreen takes inspiration from trees whose leaves remain year round.  With this lifegiving strategy at heart, bassist Katie Ernst and Jessica Marasa use their improvisational interests to practice the possibility of continuity.  This possibility employs the process increasing one’s willingness to trust the life in each moment as it arises, remains and passes away.

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