School of Education News

Dance Department and choreographer Chris Walker present UNMASKED

October 13, 2017
The UW-Madison Dance Department ​and choreographer Chris Walker present "UNMASKED," a collection of works that delves deep into the contemporary art of Caribbean 'mas' that is steeped in West Indian carnival tradition.

"UNMASKED" reveals ongoing connections between African Diasporic continuities like Dancehall, Soca and Hip Hop, and West African practices that inform them, and celebrate freedom, spirituality, and our relationships with one another and the planet through carnival culture of costume, music, and movement.

The concert will feature Walker’s choreography, and performance on stilts, design works by Laura Anderson Barbata and Briana McCarthy, as well as a special guest performance of Makeda Thomas’ “Light” on Oct. 19-20 ​at the Margaret H’Doubler Performance Space in Lathrop Hall.

Unmasked posterWalker is an associate professor in the School of Education's Dance Department and a choreographer for the National Theater Dance Company. He will also perform two solo works in the concert. 

“Obàtálá,” new choreography based on Walker's research of Orisha dance in Brazil, Trinidad and Cuba, explores human spirituality and our attempts of connecting to a higher power and to each other, informing how we relate to the spaces around us. The mas Walker will play is a Moko Jumbie fabricated by Gregory Young for the New Waves! 2017 mas presentation "Whitewash," which took place in New York City in early September.

Walker will also present a new performance art work titled  “The Land Mammal” or “homeless," a cross-disciplinary performance addressing climate change. Based on firsthand experiences, research and ancient wisdom, “The Land Mammal” or “homeless”  charts the physical and emotional relationship maintained with the ocean and the urgent need for collective transformation.  Walker’s choreography with this mas explores that which is lost, refused and extinct.

Walker will also present “Mountain Climbing” which was performed in Brooklyn in March 2017 as part of the NDTC’s 55th Anniversary concert season. This solo, which will be performed by dance alumna Mary Patterson, is a reflection of Caribbean culture — the spiritual folk traditions that connect its people to their ancestry — as well as a demonstration of women’s self-discovery through the rite of transcendence.

Three excerpts from Walker’s most recent major work “Dis Connection” formerly “Manifest” will also be on the program.  “Banana Man,” “Anancy Crossing,” and “Curtain Call” will include performances from dance artists Amansu Eason, Indika Dullela, Espuppy (a.k.a. Christopher Escoffery) and Stacy Letrice.

Tickets are available online through the Campus Arts Box Office at, by phone at 608-265-2787 or in person at Memorial Union. 

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