Red Clay Dance Company Announces World Premiere of ‘Rest. Rise. Move. Nourish. Heal’

Red Clay Dance Company will close out its 14th Season with the world premiere of its newest work, “Rest.Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal.,” which audiences will have the opportunity to experience on June 8-10, 2023.

Rest. Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal is a site-responsive dance ritual created by Founder and Artistic Director Vershawn Sanders-Ward and Company in collaboration with composer avery r. young, filmmaker Jovan Landry, Kelley KFLEYE Moseley and Evelyn Danner.

This new work was developed in relation to the urban farm, ART ON THE FARM in GRANT PARK, a space stewarded and designed by Erika Allen and Urban Growers Collective. Sanders-Ward visioned this work as “a practice, a process, an uncovering of the beautiful labor of bringing us ALL home to land, reclaiming ancestral cultural traditions, technologies, and tools that can lead to individual and collective healing.”

Rest. Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal explores through dance and music how people of color have been disproportionately affected by food apartheid and the racial disparities in black farming.  It’s an artistic approach of addressing and healing the known inequities and structural racism that exist in the food system and in communities of color by reclaiming and activating time-honored Black/African-Indigenous traditions and technologies that support spiritual fulfillment and physical well-being for people of color. This work reaches towards a DECOLONIZED practice that centers these traditions, technologies, and tools as foundational and righteously healing.

The work explores the ways that urban agriculture impacts the mental health, spirituality, and collective agency of Black communities.  People of Color have ancestral ties to their land—caring for it, nurturing it, loving it, and allowing it to heal their communities.



In development of the newest work, The Touring Company embarked on an extensive creative process, providing the dancers with time, space, support and the exploration of ideas. The creative process included several components, a 4-week creative residency traveling to Trillium Arts in Mars Hill, NC and then to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor in John’s Island, South Carolina in support of experiential research. A Harvesting process studying reaping, threshing, cleaning and gathering of ripe crops from the fields.

The harvesting principles learned on the farm grounded dancers and reconnected them with the natural rhythm of the environment. The final step of the creative process was facilitating several “Creating Fertile Grounds for Healing” workshops around the city of Chicago as a part of  community engagement, which was a way to ground the creative process for Rest.Rise.Move. Nourish.Heal.

“My vision for this work is a practice, a process, an uncovering of the beautiful labor of bringing us ALL home to land, reclaiming ancestral cultural traditions, technologies, and tools that can lead to individual and collective healing. I want the audience to come join us on this journey!” says Sanders-Ward.

Located in the Woodlawn community, Red Clay Dance Company is Chicago’s premier professional Afro-contemporary dance company which tours nationally and internationally sharing their stories and “Artivism” (art + activism). In its 14 year history, Red Clay Dance has created and produced award-winning original works that have appeared around the World and has become the home for professional and pre-professional dancers, dance-lovers, and other artists to convene, create, and collaborate together. 

The organization houses The Red Clay School of Dance and The Red Clay Dance Youth Ensemble which serves as a pipeline for youth in Chicago communities to become thriving professional artists by providing creative and safe spaces of liberation and inspiration. Red Clay Dance Company also provides resources by way of their Community Engagement, Education, and Partnerships (CEEP) program which offers culturally rich dance education, programming and training to schools and community spaces on Chicago’s South Side.

Rest. Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal will take place on June 8-10, 2023 starting at 6:30pm – location at Art on the Farm, Urban Growers Collective (Grant Park) located 119 E Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605. Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased online at





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