I had the pleasure of speaking with SHAMEL PITTS about his new project BLACK BOX in New York. I have known Shamel for quite some time now and I have watched his blossom into an amazing artist. We pretty much have all the same teachers. I jumped at the chance to speak with him about his new work and why he is making the move back to NYC……
“Black Box grew out of a passion and a necessity to create, to speak”.
Black Box the performance, started in Tel Aviv, when I was with the Batsheva Dance Company. It was a project that was going on parallel to the work I was doing with the company. It grew out of a passion and a necessity to create and to speak. Also I have a growing interest in words, writings, text and poetry…, and trying to find other ways of artistic expression. Trying to make words dance. This grew into my book of writings I call “Little Black Book Of RED”.
“The Black Box became the physical visualization room, of the words noted in the book”.
I moved into a new apartment in Tel Aviv and I had a spare bedroom. I didn’t know what to do with that room… I didn’t need an office and I don’t have children. So in a creative twist, I decided to paint the room black from top to bottom. It became my “BLACK BOX”. The Black Box became the physical visualization room, of the words noted in the book. So I started to create there, in my Black Box, at home.
“The work becomes this proposition about the many shades of black”.
I kept this project to myself originally. There is something about doing things alone…Knowing that there will be no audience,you feel-and can go for more things authentically, and without censorship. A lot of real things came up for me. At some point I started to share it with people and decided that it was something more than just for me. On my 30th Birthday I shared 30 minutes of BLACK BOX to 30 close friends. I realized the importance of sharing stories.
I think that it makes sense for my homecoming. I didn’t want to come back and just arrive. I want to come back and say something. I have something to say.
“My hope is to show with this color comes a huge range of how we are”.
This live performance is a collaboration between myself and Art Director and Light Artist Tom Love. The only light source in the show is from a projector. The projector projects only black light in the space. The work becomes this proposition about the many shades of black. For me that was very important especially in these times, to bring awareness to the diversity. The different perspectives, colors and dynamics inside of this blackness.
How we stereotype, how we label, how society can BOX people in, in terms of identities, based off of assuming generalizations. I put myself inside a black box to deal with those Labels. The boxes of our times. In order to break them down, we have to see them.
My hope is to show with this color comes a huge range of how we are.
“Shamel Pitts commands attention. When performing with the Batsheva Dance Company… he projects magnetic focus and pounces with ferocious abandon.”
A Little Black Book of RED
A solo by Shamel Pitts
SAVE THE DATE!
January 6-7, 2017
14TH STREET Y THEATER
344 East 14th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
TICKETS: $20, AVAILABLE HERE
An enigmatic performance/installation featuring a solo by Shamel Pitts, a former company member of Israel’s iconic Batsheva Dance. Buoyed by his trademark expressive movement, Pitts employs spoken word, evocative lighting, and video to construct a personal, poetic narrative about the search for identity and striving for survival amidst impermanence. Performed in a confined space in nearly pitch-black darkness, the work features recordings of Pitts’ ruminations jotted down during his travels with Batsheva. Obliquely referencing the flight data recorder, BLACK BOX transcends traditional travel journal format, becoming instead a record of a life as – in a nod to Nina Simone – a “young, gifted and Black” artist, thriving in constant motion.
For more information about Shamel please visit
Shamel Pitts is a Brooklyn-born dancer, performance and spoken word artist, and a teacher. He graduated from the Juilliard School and danced with BJM Dance in Montreal, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance, and Sidra Bell Dance in New York. Shamel began his professional training at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High of the Performing Arts (formerly known as the Fame School,) and simultaneously studied at The Ailey School. Having moved to Israel in 2009, he was a company member of Batsheva Dance Company from 2009 to 2016 and has performed in many of their recent productions, including such critically-acclaimed shows as MAX (BAM NextWave 2009), and SADEH21 (BAM NextWave 2014).
Conceived, written, and performed by Shamel Pitts
In collaboration with
Art Direction and Light Design: Tom Love
Music Arrangement: Stella Goldstein / Auerbach Records
Costume Design: Galit Reich
Original Logo Design: Zohar Shemesh
Graphic Design: Idan Epstein / Uber Designs
Photography: Alex Apt