The Floor is a multimedia immersive art project conceived by movement artist Cat Mahari, opening mid-July 2016 at 31st & Brklyn in Kansas City, MO. This is a new venue and community space that actively prioritizes avant-garde, and emerging artists of color. Sited on the east side of Troost, 31st & Brklyn, is part of the shifting boundaries and current cross-hairs of diversity, gentrification, innovation, tradition, and art-making elitism in Kansas City.
The Floor will be an overlapping engagement in the experiential tracing of repetition and Blackness in relation to the Great Black Migrations of the 20th Century. It will present and remix personal narratives and anecdotes from experiences that are carried around, but normally find no space for articulation or sharing – at the expense of linkages and solidarities in sex, gender, land, love, community, and individual creative identity. The process and installation of the project will unfold over the course of a month, culminating in a ‘Steppers’ night’ – an African American, partnered social dance-evening typically held in late night bars, juke joints, and ballrooms. KC-Style Steppers’ nights are gatherings that strengthen bonds and expose tensions between individual expression, shared experiences and memories.
The Floor installation will begin with a 2-part exhibition of writing and theatrical story telling. The installation will involve rear image projection, video trigger mapping, and live video delay software. Words, sounds and self-imagery will be experienced as art objects, intangible stimuli, and public-mediated negotiation.
The immersive process will then continue with still and animated visual imagery projected inside and outside of 31st & Brklyn. This visualization will encompass the lore of folk journeys, arrival points, and future possibilities using archetypical stylizations of trajectories of Blackness.
A series of mini-sonic sessions will be an integral part of The Floor’s active construction, exploring repetition as a catalyst for transformation that might drive further communication. A DJ will engage in a site-specific, creative meditation, with each set being recorded live and then replayed as a looped, auditory addition to the installation for that day.
The Floor’s final process is a KC-Style Steppers’ lesson and Steppers’ party. The variations in this form of dance are linked to the population surge of Black people from the Southern U.S to Kansas City, reflecting the shifts in culture and socio-politics of The Great Black Migration. The Steppers’ party will create fields of intimacy and physical interconnectivity amongst the audience-participants who will be surrounded by The Floor’s accumulated imagery, sounds, and objects.
Cat Mahari focuses on physical technologies, free form movement ideals, and collaborations with diverse artists and communities to experience creative processes with potent transformational possibilities.
Cat is a 2x UMKC SEARCH grant awardee and 2008 Fulbright/Gilman Scholar, for her performance-as-research series on interconnectivity between Merce Cunningham and breaking. This 2-part series explored chance procedure, film and movement technologies, and space/place. Her practice-as-research interdisciplinary solo mixtape series Violent/Break, that questions conditions of violence, premiered in London at the Brink Festival (2011). Vol I has been shown in Carei, Romania and Toronto, CA.
She is a recipient of Regional Arts Commission Artist Support Grant (2013) for practice-as-research process, a 2x performing artist-in-residence for Charlotte St. Foundation in Kansas City, MO, and recipient of a KC Arts Inspiration Award for the creation of a multi-media interdisciplinary theatre work titled The Projects that drew on the heterogeneous and jumbled life of downtown, and premiered at Kansas City Fringe Festival (2010). Her second CSF residency resulted in the multi-media interdisciplinary work Expectation of Violence/Rites due Spring: B-BAM! (2015), that exposed Blackness and America in Kansas City, and premiered at La Esquina Gallery. B-BAM! birthed the dynamic performance approach to diversity and inclusion training BAM! the Workshop.
Cat is the original hip hop dance instructor of Hip Hop Academy based in Kansas City, MO, a member of the krump family Gool, break crew Gateway City Breakers, and is a student of house dance legends Cricket (Rennie Harris Puremovement) and Caleaph Sellers (Dance Fusion/MopTop Unit). Her love of campbellocking gave her the opportunity to engage Don Campbell (Soul Train/The Lockers) in a youth workshop called Culture Works. She has taught a summer youth program for Full Radius Dance Company in Atlanta, GA whose choreography challenges assumptions about dancers with disability and provides innovative explorations of movement vocabulary.
Cat studied at Merce Cunningham Dance Company (NYC) and completed her BFA in Dance at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at UMKC. She studied release technique and Rudolph von Laban’s choreology in London, England at Laban School of Contemporary Dance, and was a participant in the associate training program of Ballet Black at the Royal Opera House. As a recording artist Cat Mahari is featured on France-based collaborator Guilluame Zenses EP’s Astrophobe (Eat Me Records) and Next To You (Cut Music). In boxing, Cat studies under Carlos Moreno, national champion of Portugal.