Poster for "Funk, God, Jazz & Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn" (2014) Exhibition presented by Creative Time & Weeksville Heritage Center; Bumbray, Guest Curator. 

Name: Rashida Bumbray                                                                                   

Title: Choreographer;  Curator; Senior Program Manager at the Open Society Foundations, The Arts Exchange, its global arts for social justice initiative.                                                                        

Born: New Haven, Connecticut  Raised: Washington, DC the city formerly known as Chocolate City

Live: Brooklyn, NY

Work: New York, NY

Projects (Performance): "Run Mary Run, excerpt included in the Culture Video Collage, 4th Floor, National African American Museum (2016-Present); "The Value of Black Spaces," Kerry James Marshall Symposium, Metropolitan Museum of Art, January 2017; "Aluminum," With Simone Leigh, Tate Modern, UK, Nov 2016; "Motherless Child Set," The Waiting Room, New Museum, July 2016; Performer in "Work Songs", Venice Biennial 2014, by Alicia Hall Moran & Jason Moran, May 2015; "Run Mary Run," Summerstage, Queensbridge Park, July 2015; "Run Mary Run," Dancing While Black, May 2014; "Little Red Rooster in a Red House," Harlem Stage, EMoves, April 2014; A Tribute to Louis Armstrong, (Opening for Wynton Marsalis), SummerStage, Queensbridge Park, Summer 2014; "Run Mary Run", Opening for Amel Larrieux, Weeksville Heritage Center, Weeksville Garden Party, Summer 2012; "Run Mary Run," Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitney Biennial, BLEED: Jason Moran & Alicia Hall Moran, May 2012; "Run Mary Run", Hollering Space: Carribbean Cultural Center, Dwyer Cultural Arts Center, Harlem,; "Sign of the Judgement," Project Row Houses, Fall 2006

Projects (Curatorial): Àsìkò 4th CCA, Lagos International Art Programme, Dakar, Senegal; Facilitated curatorial and critical studies program, “A History of Contemporary Art in Dakar in Five Weeks” May 2014; Open Forum, Black Cinema House, Chicago, Illinois, in conjunction with Leslie Hewitt and Bradford Young; Untitled (Structures) at the MCA Chicago; Funk, God, Jazz & Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn, Creative Time & Weeksville Heritage Center, Fall 2014; Simone Leigh: You Don’t Know Where Her Mouth Has Been; The Kitchen 2012; Lauren Kelley: FrouFrou Conclusions; The Kitchen, 2012; Cauleen Smith: REMOTE VIEWING; The Kitchen, 2011; Adam Pendleton: BAND;  The Kitchen, 2010; Leslie Hewitt: On Beauty, Objects, and Dissonance; The Kitchen, 2010; Jamal Cyrus: Winners Have Yet To Be Announced; The Kitchen, 2009; Elodie Pong: After The Empire; The Kitchen, 2009; Mai-Thu Perrett: An Evening of The Book; The Kitchen, 2008; The Future As Disruption; The Kitchen, 2008; Rodney McMillian: Untitled; The Kitchen 2008; Kalup Linzy: Comedy, Tragedy, Sketches of Me, The Kitchen, 2009; Rashaad Newsome: Shade Compositions; The Kitchen, 2009; Sanford Biggers: Cosmic Conundrums, The Kitchen, 2009; Mendi & Keith Obadike: Four Electric Ghosts; The Kitchen, 2010; Derrick Adams: Go Stand Next To The Mountain; The Kitchen, 2010; Hoofers’ House, Shim Sham, Studio Museum in Harlem & The Kitchen, 2003-2012; Jason Samuels-Smith: Charlie’s Angels, The Kitchen, 2010; Camille A. Brown: Mr. Tol E. Rance, The Kitchen, 2012; Kyle Abraham: Live! The Realest MC,  The Kitchen, 2012; Pheeroan akLaff, The Kitchen, 2008; Alicia Hall Moran, The Motown Project, The Kitchen 2010; LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, The Kitchen 2008; Min-Xiao Fen, The Kitchen 2009; Guillermo E. Brown, The Kitchen 2009-2010; Gordon Voidwell, The Kitchen 2010; Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, The Kitchen 2008; Marc Cary, The Kitchen, 2008; The Kitchen Highline Block Party, a bi-annual community street fair with unique artist-run booths and performances: 2007, 2009 & 2011; Arndt & Partner, Zurich, Switzerland, The Fullness of Time: William Cordova, Rashawn Griffin, Leslie Hewitt + Gean Moreno; 2008


Bumbray starred in Common's "Black America Again" video, where she performed elements of her ring shout. 

CreativeTypes: What do you do?

Rashida: As a choreographer, I make dances.  My process is very collaborative-usually created in conversation with other dancers, musicians or visual artists.  This means that we talk about ideas for some time, play music together over time or think through visual approaches over time.  In making dances, I am somewhat literal, and my approach is emotionally driven.  I consider what emotional journey a work should take and set out to move through that journey, always leaving space for improvisation.  Because much of my training comes from tap dance, I often begin a new work by thinking about transcribing a tune literally note by note with the movement, an approach I learned from Diane Walker,  legendary hoofer.

As a curator, I work to present artist’s ideas and projects in exhibitions and performances. My curatorial process is quite collaborative, and involves the development of a relationship with the artist to understand their practice and how the project we work on will expand, push, or allow them to take a risk within their trajectory.  I am interested in radical practice, public art, performance, site responsivity, and socially engaged practice.

At the Open Society Foundations, in my role as Senior Program Manager, I lead a new global initiative which encourages and supports grant makers throughout the Foundations Network to include art in their human rights and social justice strategies.  This includes being a kind of evangelist some days—and demonstrating how art is an impetus for social change.  As Darren Walker recently said, “without art there is no empathy. Without empathy there is no justice.”


CT: You've done so much, but what is the project/work that you are most proud of/known for?

RB: Run Mary Run, which is a ring shout with dancers shuffling in a counter-clockwise circle and call and response songs. Using traditional and vernacular forms-specifically to speak to contemporary political realities, exemplifies what we can do with less and under restrictions like our current political reality. 

Bumbray performing "Run Mary Run" at Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitney Biennial 2012, BLEED (Jason Moran & Alicia Hall Moran Residency) (2012)


CT: What is the easiest way for someone to break into your field(s)?


In the curatorial field...

a.     Apply to an internship or a fellowship at a museum or arts organization you admire

b.     Apply to intensives- like Asiko Art School or ICI Curatorial Intensive

c.     Make your own projects with friends and artists so that you practice articulating and demonstrating your ideas

In the dance field...

a.     Take classes with the dancers and choreographers you admire

b.     Go to see lots and lots of dance so that you have a sense of what you respond to and in turn what you want to make

c.     Apply to intensives-like the Urban Bush Women Community Engagement or Summer Leadership Program

d.     Work in collectives, so you can practice making work together with others- like ASE Dance Collective, Like Body Ecology

e.     Follow the Dancing While Black listserve

In Socially Engaged Art & Philanthrophy...

Ask me again in a year.


CT: What skills are needed to have a career like yours?


a. Listening

b. Collaboration

c. Boldness

d. Writing- critical, creative and legal

e. Administrative and organizational skills are the bedrock of all three career paths

f. Strategic planning

g. Field scanning—you must see ALLOT of work, ALL the TIME

h. Mentoring-in both directions—stay connected to your mentors, and include the next generation in your dialogue. 


CT: What is the most challenging aspect of your career path?

To stay the course. It is a long haul.  There is not allot of money, and acknowledgement sometimes for many many years.  As long as you are fulfilled by your work, keep going.  And make sure people can see your work.  Put your head down, but come up for air to invite colleagues in the field and communities to participate and witness your projects.

Bumbray performing "Aluminum,"  along with artist Simone Leigh at Tate Modern in November 2016 as part of Leigh's residency at Tate Exchange.


CT: What do you wish you would've known sooner about your industry?

That taking a calculated risk is worthwhile.  You can be entrepreneurial, and try ideas, even without the platform provided by well-established institutions.  And you learn so much in these smaller projects that are applied in many contexts.

Follow Rashida online!

website: http://rashidabumbray.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rashida.bumbray

instagram: @sunrara

twitter: @sunrara


Rashida offered the opportunity to "Get Connected" to her regarding career advice in Art.

A group of selected beneficiaries will have the opportunity to join Rashida along with her esteemed art world colleagues, Derrick Adams & Sandra Dumont-Jackson for an intimate meal and conversation taking place on August 27, 2017 in Brooklyn, NY.