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BLAQ Presence: A new observance with BLAQ and Deja Stowers collaborating with Bill Cottman and other artists.
78 backers pledged $3,652 to help bring this project to life.


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BLAQ PRESENCE: we move, therefore we are...

In their first collaboration, Deja Stowers and Bill Cottman are creating an immersive experience for The Southern Theater. 

We are born into circumstances and we spend every present moment dreaming our ways out. We are not performers and you are not an audience. We are moving to create our presence. 

We are inviting you to be present, as an observer and as a financial supporter of this work. 

Deja Stowers & Bill Cottman


August 23-25 - Southern Theater 

 1420 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55454

BLAQ PRESENCE is an observance that explores dreams and dreamers. The sound score is mainly jazz and is based on Toni Morrison's children's book "The Big Box".

The goal of observance is to LIVE that experience on stage and the audience is there to OBSERVE something they would not have seen otherwise. I believe that when you begin to “perform” real life experiences, they are no longer true to you. That experience has somehow been manipulated in a way to make it palatable to others, which shouldn’t be the case when it comes to expressing our truth.

We are born into circumstances. We live in situations. We make decisions. Time passes relentlessly. The quality, style and length of our lives depend upon constantly changing combinations of these components. We grapple with the issues of knowing our history and behaving wisely, while anticipating the unpredictable nature of the future. PRESENCE is what comes from all this.

Using the score of Jazz is intentional. I believe Jazz is the music of dreamers.

Using projection, lighting, and sound to inspect what “presence” means and what effects it has on those who witness presence or the lack thereof.

BLAQ is a dance company composed of 5 Black women who are dedicated to the evolution of themselves and their various communities. BLAQ creates from four pillars: Writing, Discussion, Dance, and American Sign Language (ASL). BLAQ believes presenting raw and unfiltered Black creative’s stories is important, because I believe that’s where true change and understanding lies. BLAQ’s saying is “be yourself at all times”, which is why we create observance as opposed to performance.

Previous BLAQ Observances…

Most recently, BLAQ debuted Taneber/BLAQ Wall Street where they transformed the stage into a Senegalese celebration and night market. There was no age limit or restrictions on how you presented yourself, children and adults were dancing and visiting the various market tables alike. BLAQ continues to create thought provoking and holistic art experiences.

Taneber/BLAQ Wall Street Joining BLAQ is Bill Cottman, photographer, a writer and projectionist. He photographs are social landscapes; evidence of being here. His writing is crisp and true to the Japanese senryu form; precision an engineer loves. As a projectionist he is practicing acts of visualizing and regarding ideas as objective realities; new social landscapes. 

Previous Bill Cottman projects...

Surface Tensions, 2011 & 2012 is a published collection of illustrated stories from my experiences and investigations. Ancestral stories providing explanations for present day situations, revealing some to be allusions to the truth. Occasionally the prospect of a future outcome disturbs the daily flow and adjustments must be made to maintain the surface tension. Surface Tensions was also an ensemble performance in three scenes; stories from the past, allusions to the present and disturbances that form the future. The Stories scene uses projected images as cinema created from pre mixed sequences in linear narrative form. The Allusions scene adds a layer of projected images from a moveable source onto changing surfaces and is a characterization of truth as a moving target. The Disturbances scene adds the final projection layer representing future environments.

PRESENCE mural, July 2017 is a representation of singular points and spaces in time. This collage is the place they exist together. Their collective presence is an imaginary social landscape. In their collective presence: What do you SEE? How does it make you FEEL? What are you going to DO about it?

“DISTURBANCEs, November 2017: the Game of Life” is a site-specific performance of a virtual reality simulation by The Ways Ensemble. The performance seamlessly integrates storytelling, dance and digital media manipulation into an investigation of the issues of knowing one’s history and behaving wisely, while anticipating the unpredictable nature of the future.

Risks and challenges


July 2018 - Weekly Sessions with BLAQ Movement artists to create the vocabulary and structure of the observance.

Building set, designing sound and lighting for the work.

Generating imagery and tinkering with projection ideas.

August 2018 - Working out kinks in set design and choreography.

Tech week and production meetings at the Southern Theater

Observances on August 23, 24, 25 at the Southern Theater

Post-Observance Taneber/Black Wall Street on Saturday, August 25

Budget Breakdown:

$6,500 total

movement artists $2,000
lighting, sound and set designers $1,700
marketing, equipment rental, materials, documentation, marketplace $2,800

Production Related Risks and Challenges:

This project is independently funded, only 1/2 the ticket revenue goes back into the collaboration. Hundreds of hours have already gone into the conceptualization and construction of the observance.

The Kickstarter goal of $3500 will fund compensation for the artists and contains a buffer for payment processing fees. All the movement artists and designers are being compensated by Deja and Bill as the collaborative force in creation.

When we raise more than our goal, that overage will go toward compensating the collaborators.

Creative Risks and Challenges abound as Bill and Deja venture into new territory in creating a conceptual space for the observance to take place in. Their combined artistic history as well as those of the other artists involve demonstrate ability to rise to those challenges.

We move, therefore we are...


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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25


    1 free ticket to Taneber/BLAQ Wall Street (celebration)
    After Saturday’s observance August 25th. *light food provided

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    24 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100


    Your name in the program notes

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    7 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200


    Get your name in program notes AND free ticket to Taneber/BLAQ Wall Street (celebration) after a Saturday’s observance August 25th. *light food provided.

    Estimated delivery
    3 backers
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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Funding period

- (43 days)