As We Rise, 2022
Wendy Yu, she/her
Commissioned by the Greenway Conservancy in 2022, As We Rise is a site-specific video installation featuring short bursts of freestyle-based street dance from 5 local dancers spanning multiple generations. Created in collaboration with artist Wendy Yu (Sydney, Australia), local street dance organization The Flavor Continues (Cambridge, MA) and projection artists ILLUMINUS (Boston, MA), the video installation was generated through a process of reciprocal creative exchange over a period of six months. Their artistic collaboration creates an innovative platform to share the intricate and complex –yet often overlooked– practices and traditions of street dance in new ways.
Featuring lead dancers Jahmier Berry-Irvis, Sovathy Douer, Danny Guzman, Brian Lim, and Colleen Sayers, the digitally-designed video highlights the dancers’ movements as they interpret music in the moment and engage community techniques in ways that reflect their individual styles. By elevating dance in this abstract, large-scale, and digitally-designed way, Yu and her collaborators invite viewers to experience the incredible control and precision of dancers and their practices, as well as collectively reimagine the urban landscapes of downtown Boston.
This installation will run until December 1, 2023 and will be displayed from ~5:30p-10p each evening. It was projected on the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s northern exterior wall, and was viewable from both The Greenway and along portions of Boston’s waterfront.
In my creative works of dance and projection design, I aim to create engaging immersive environments that make the viewer feel in awe of what they are seeing. By elevating dance in this abstract and digitally-designed way, I enable new ways for viewers to experience the incredible control and precision of dancers and their movements.
Wendy Yu is a Sydney-based interdisciplinary artist who works with dance and urban media art. She designs interactive works with computer systems to build large-scale immersive and monumental experiences in public spaces. Her practice vaults forms of movement and dance typically confined to the streets or practiced low to the ground, such as breakdancing and everyday athletic feats, to contemporary abstract art landscapes. Yu’s work as an artist, choreographer, dancer, and computer programmer has been featured in major cities and institutions across the globe.
Jahmier Berry-Irvis, age 14, known by his stage name, Slingshot, to most started breakdancing at the age of nine at the Funk Box Dance Studio in Pittsfield, MA and has been honing his craft for the last five years. When he’s not dancing, he’s playing basketball or videogames, watching his favorite anime shows, spending time with his family and friends, or focusing on his schoolwork to maintain his honors status. This coming fall, Jahmier will be expanding his creative and academic endeavors with Taconic High School’s carpentry program.
Sothavy Doeur (she/her) has been breakin’ for 6 years now. Originally from Providence, RI, she started breakin’ with the RI breakin’ community and is grateful for the RI community for contributing to the early stages of her breakin’ career, and is thankful for the Massachusetts breakin’ scene for supporting her evolution. Sothavy has competed in various breakin’ competitions and most recently in the Red Bull BC One Cypher USA regional Philadelphia in July 2022 and Red Bull BC One Cypher regional Boston in August 2022. Her favorite thing about bgirling is to be original with her style and represent her character authentically.
Danny was raised playing instruments and dancing to traditional “Puerto Rican” music since the age of 3, but began Breakin’ a.k.a. “Breakdancing” around 10yrs old. His older brother introduced him to the art-form/lifestyle and he fell in-love with its abstract forms of self-expression along with the historical context Latino Culture has in relation to Hip-Hop Culture. In the Fall of 2009, Danny’s journey as a Dancer, Instructor, Mentor, and Educator officially started. Since then, he’s received a Community Builders Award from the United Way of Central Massachusetts, performed for NASA, several local Parades, Multi-Cultural Festivals, and for State Representatives in New England. He even made a cameo in the music video “Just Let Go” by Joyner Lucas & Chris Brown. He’s traveled across North America competing against and learning from some of the best dancers in the world as well as guest teaching, lecturing, and presenting his work at various Schools, Colleges, and Universities in Massachusetts. Danny is also a Fitness Coach with over 10yrs of experience training children, teens, college athletes, and adults. His passion for sports provided the opportunity to coach recreationally but also at elite levels such as his time working at UMass Lowell. “What was once a hobby turned into an outlet that became a successful career” working with individuals of all levels, ages, and racial backgrounds.
Co-Founder & Operations Director at The Flavor Continues
Brian, better known as Brian Pistols, stepped into breaking at the young age of 11 years old. Considering himself a student of the craft and lover of the artform, his roots run deep within the breaking scene. Starting on a similar path as most breakers do, he heavily focused on competitions. His journey grew and pushed him to become a multi-faceted resource in the Massachusetts breaking community, whether it was getting down, competing, performing, organizing, hosting, judging, or teaching; Brian has done it all. Through his eyes, the most impactful accomplishment to date is the connections he has built with the community near and far beyond the competitions.
Brian is the curator behind one of New England’s favorite and most highly anticipated events “Entering ShaoLynn” held in his hometown, Lynn, MA. It is at this event which you may have heard or seen the reiteration of “the flavor continues”, as it started out as his motto, later manifesting into the moniker of the nonprofit organization before you today. Currently, he is the Operations Director of TFC, bringing this passion project to life.
Colleen Sayers, a.k.a. Safire, has been bgirling (breaking) and DJing for over 26 years. She has traveled across the globe performing in several theatre productions, colleges and events and has judged and DJed many dance competitions. She currently has her own radio show called The Rewind on Wrap.fm and Beatminerz Radio.
The Flavor Continues
The Flavor Continues (TFC) est. 2019, is the first community-led non-profit 501(c)(3) organization serving street and club dance in Greater Boston, Massachusetts, USA. It is spearheaded by members within the street and club dance community pursuing to create a sustainable foundation for the culture. The formation of this organization is in response to the never-ending need to provide resources and uplift members of marginalized communities by promoting social justice, employment, well-being, and education – all through the art forms of various street and club dances.
Public art on The Greenway is funded exclusively through grants and private sources, including generous support from The Barr Foundation, the Boston Cultural Council/Reopen Creative Boston Fund administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, and Goulston & Storrs. As We Rise was also made possible through support from the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau and Yotel. The Greenway Conservancy is thankful to partners at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for their support of this public art display, in particular for hosting the projection infrastructure and artwork.
About the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, one of 12 regional reserve banks, serves the First Federal Reserve District, which includes all of New England except Fairfield County, Connecticut. Within the district, the Bank monitors local economic conditions to aid in the formulation of monetary policy, engages in outreach to promote economic growth and community revitalization, supervises banks and bank holding companies, and provides financial services to facilitate banking operations. Learn more about the Boston Fed on the Bank’s website.
About The Flavor Continues
Started in 2019, The Flavor Continues (TFC) is Massachusetts’ first community-led and community-focused non-profit organization serving the Street and Club dance communities by providing primary programs, events, education, media, and a community space and studio for Street and Club dancers. To learn more and support TFC’s mission, visit theflavorcontinues.org and follow @theflavorcontinues on social media for upcoming offerings.
Since 2014, ILLUMINUS has been supporting local artists, designers and creatives to produce nighttime, site specific, experiential pieces in a variety of mediums including new media technologies, perforance, light, and sound. ILLUMINUS puts Boston’s creative community in direct conversation with the city with the goal of developing new works that ignite imagination, create moments of connection, and serve as a contemporary expression of Boston. Learn more at www.illuminusboston.org.