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Belonging Conversation Community Gathering
Belonging Conversation Community Gathering

Mon, May 13


North Hill Library – Conference Room

Belonging Conversation Community Gathering

Join NCCAkron for a conversation facilitated by artist-activist Helanius J. Wilkins designed to bring together an intergenerational and inclusive group of Akron residents to center community and connections to place.

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Time & Location

May 13, 2024, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

North Hill Library – Conference Room, 183 E Cuyahoga Falls Ave, Akron, OH 44310, USA

About the Event

How can we get the world that we deserve - one that works for everyone? 

This question and others centering notions of community and connections to place lies at the heart of the Belonging Conversation Community Gathering. Designed to bring together an intergenerational and inclusive group of Akron residents, this community gathering creates a brave and courageous space to explore the topic of belonging from multiple entry points and perspectives, and to illuminate how we are connected through shared stories.

Facilitated by artist-activist Helanius J. Wilkins (Boulder, CO), this is part of an ongoing art and social justice-based work called The Conversation Series: Stitching the Geopolitical Quilt to Re-Body Belonging. It is a multi-year, multi-outcome work that celebrates and confronts heritage, resiliency, justice, and hope. Colorado-based artist Wilkins will travel to all 50 U.S. states/D.C./5 inhabited territories to make and share this work, stitching together a dance-quilt to broaden our understanding of what it means to be American and sew ourselves together anew.

NCCAkron is hosting Wilkins in a Creative Residency the week of May 13 – 18, 2024, which marks the return of his process in Ohio state. He was previously on the ground in March 2022 for a series of community walking tours of Akron and again in September of 2023 for the first Belonging Conversation Community Gathering hosted by Summit ArtSpace. This residency will culminate in a free, site-based performance offering inspired by the Akron, OH community at People’s Park on Saturday, May 18, 2024 – RSVP here.

About the Artist

Louisiana native and Colorado transplant Helanius J. Wilkins is an award-winning choreographer, performance artist, educator, certified Colorado Change Leader, and artivist (artist-activist). Wilkins's creative research and projects are rooted in the interconnections of American contemporary performance, cultural history, and identities of Black men. His projects examine the raced dancing body and ways ritual can access knowledge. He uses remembering to piece together and liberate Black identity through performance. Having choreographed 60+ works, honors include the Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance (DC’s highest honor, given by the Washington Performing Arts Society, 2008) and the Kennedy Center Local Dance Commissioning Project (2002 & 2006). Foundations/organizations including NEA, NEFA National Dance Project, and National Performance Network (NPN) have supported his work. He founded and artistically directed D.C.-based EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, an all-male dance company predominantly of Black men that toured nationally and internationally (2001 - 2014). He is the Associate Chair and Director and an Associate Professor of Dance at CU Boulder. He is a member of the National Board of Directors of the American College Dance Association (ACDA) for the Northwest region and completed a 4-year term to the Colorado Council on Creative Industries as appointed by Governor Jared Polis in 2018. His current work is a multi-year, multi-outcome art and humanities work titled The Conversation Series: Stitching the Geopolitical Quilt to Re-Body Belonging.

Funding Credits

This Creative Residency and the development of The Conversation Series: Stitching the Geopolitical Quilt to Re-Body Belonging were made possible in part by the National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron (NCCAkron) and funding from the National

Endowment for the Arts.

The Conversation Series: Stitching the Geopolitical Quilt to Re-Body Belonging is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Redline Contemporary Art Center in partnership with CSPS Legion Arts, Dance Place, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and NPN/VAN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information, visit

Photo Credits 

(clockwise from top left): courtesy of NCCAkron, Christopher Michael Carruth, and Paul Kieu.

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