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The PURPLE Universe

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Image by Léonard Cotte

PURPLE is a multi-project universe that illuminates the power of deep sisterhood for social change through storytelling and movement. This sisterhood is how we thrive: we invest in one another, we honor and celebrate each other's brilliance, and we hold ourselves accountable to experiencing radical joy. 

Each project is its own galaxy with its own moving storytellers, but these galaxies are guided by a common set of stars. The works are:



based in oral & embodied herstories

center sacred ritual(s)

honor feedback loops

honor collective decision-making

and are inspired by the work & processes of our beloved ancestor Ntozake Shange.

PURPLE research is based in archives and stars, bodies and stories. Each galaxy embodies sankofa as it literally and figuratively honors and adorns our backspace as we intentionally craft our way forward into the cosmos.


My own visit to the Purple rehearsal lured me into the work’s lore: elders as royalty, breath as affirmation, intimacy as sacred and purple space as plastic and supportive. 

— Candace Thompson-Zachery, Manager Justice, Equity, & Inclusion Dance/NYC and Dancer, Choreographer, Curator

Explore the PURPLE Galaxies

Ensemble Work: learn more about and witness our evening length choreopoem

Sp​otlight in PURPLE: engage with our virtual experience

Community Engagement: learn more about the elder communities we are connected to and our approach to building community relationships


Student Work: learn more about residencies with high schools and colleges


Solos: check out this process for creating performance on veteran performers

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Funding Credits

The PURPLE Universe has been researched, created, and developed with support from Lincoln Center Education Community Artist in Residence Program, Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place, MAP Fund, New England Foundation for the Arts 2021 National Theater Project Artist Development, Gibney's Solo for Solo with generous contributions from SHS Foundation, Hi-ARTS Sky Lab Residency, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation’s Seed Fund for Dance grant thanks to the support of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and Harlem Stage, through its WaterWorks Emerging Artists program, supported by the Jerome Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Mertz-Gilmore Foundation and their Late Stage Stipend grant, Black Spatial Relics Microgrant, Barnard Center for Research on Women, Changing the Narrative, Amherst College Theater and Dance Department Guest Artist Residency, Dance/NYC Coronavirus Dance Relief Fund, Dance/NYC Coronavirus Restart Fund: New York State Edition, made possible by the New York State Council on The Arts, and made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council and administered by LMCC.


Over the course of developing PURPLE, SLMDances also received general operating support from Red Olive Creative Consulting’s Black Art Futures Fund via Brooklyn Community Foundation, The New York Community Trust’s Mosaic Network and Fund, Dance/NYC’s Dance Advancement Fund, made possible by the Howard Gilman Foundation and the Ford Foundation, the Harlem Entrepreneurial Micro-Grant from the 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID), and from partners the Apollo Theater and the Harlem Commonwealth Council and SLMDances’ individual donors.


PURPLE pedagogy developed through education engagements with Spelman College, Roland Park Country School, The Chapin School, Greenwich Academy, Bowdoin College Department of Theater and Dance, The Dalton School, Middlebury College, New York University, University of Iowa, and Pennsylvania State University.


PURPLE: A Ritual in Nine Spells was developed at House of Duende, Abrons Arts Center, Joffrey Ballet School in Long Island City, BAX | Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Dance Project of Washington Heights, Spelman College, Amherst College, Barnard College, DANCE NOW Silo Residency at Kirkland Farm, Earthdance, Double Edge Theatre, Dance Place, Pennsylvania State University, Chelsea Factory, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of Harlem, Hi-ARTS, Gibney, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


Excerpts of PURPLE and What does PURPLE sound like? were presented at the Barnard Center for Research on Women’s Scholar and Feminist Conference 2023: Housing Justice/Housing Futures, Lincoln Center Atrium’s San Juan Hill Day, Harlem Stage’s E-Moves 2022, Hi-ARTS / Hip Hop Theater Festival’s Outdoor Film Festival 2022, and Hi-ARTS 2021.


PURPLE was commissioned by Gibney and curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa as part of the organization’s Gibney Presents series for the 2022-2023 Season. This commission included financial, residency, administrative, and production support. 

PURPLE was co-​​presented by Gibney and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in June 2023.


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