UNLOCK: Tree Water Land 

UNLOCK: Tree Water Land 

This July the Schuylkill Center welcomes artist collective Propelled Animals for a two-week performance-in-residency. The group ─ consisting of collective members Esther Baker-Tarpaga, Raquel Monroe, and Heidi Wiren Bartlett in collaboration with guest artists Tchin, Crux, and Emma White Thunder ─ will explore collective knowledge and systemic practices in environmental justice, anti-racism and healing lineages grounded in the body. 

July 26 – Aug 6, 2021
Organized by Tina Plokarz

The performance project UNLOCK:Tree Water Land builds on the urgent contemporary movements of Black Lives Matter and WATERisLIFE. It includes dance, ephemeral interactive installations, live music, and guided embodied experiences for audiences to witness and join in. The residency is part of the collective’s multi-year effort to creatively decolonize natural spaces through visual art and dance; and ultimately their attempt to dismantle the systemic oppression of contemporary ‘isms.’



Founded in 2014, Propelled Animals is a group of artists, dancers, scholars, musicians, and designers who embed innovative and provocative art in unconventional spaces. They are committed to creating work that interrogates and challenges systemic oppression. Their work is centered on art as social action and ritual as performance. www.propelledanimals.org

Esther Baker-Tarpaga (co-founder of Propelled Animals) is a choreographer and interdisciplinary artist. Her dances are site-responsive, collaborative, and center art as social action. She currently teaches at Temple University and has taught among others at Princeton University, Ohio State University, and internationally in Senegal, Mexico, and Hong Kong. She recently performed at Kelly Strayhorn Theatre Pittsburgh, Trade School Philadelphia, The Chicago Architecture Biennale, ArtYard New Jersey, No New Idols Festival in Riga, Latvia, and many others. She co-founded Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, received a NY Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant, and was a fellow at Cultural Envoy in Guinea, Botswana, and South Africa.

Heidi Wiren Bartlett (co-founder of Propelled Animals) is a filmmaker, sculptor, and performance artist from the Great Plains. Her work is concerned with the portrayal, oppression and subversive existence of women in America today. In her work, she blurs the line between public and private; and deconstructs notions of gender, race, and corporeality. She is an Artist & Designer at Carnegie Mellon University. Selected exhibitions include: Grace Exhibition Space (Brooklyn, NY), Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, NE), DFRL8R (Chicago, IL), and the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art (Iowa City, IA). She has been a visiting artist at Iowa State University (Ames, IA), Lafayette College (Easton, PA), Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA), and Carnegie Mellon University Qatar (Doha, Qatar).

Raquel Monroe (core member of Propelled Animals) is an interdisciplinary performance scholar and artist whose research interests include black social dance, black feminisms, and popular culture. Monroe’s scholarship appears in journals and anthologies on race, sexuality, dance and popular culture. She is completing a monograph analyzing the intersections of Black feminism and Black liberation by Black female cultural producers in popular culture and the Black public sphere. Monroe is also the Co-Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and an Associate Professor in Dance at Columbia College Chicago. She is a founding board member of the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance.


Tchin (pronounced ‘chin) is a nationally known, multi-award winning artist. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia and lived in rural Virginia and Rhode Island where he received his early schooling. He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and graduated from Rhode Island School of Design. Tchin is an accomplished musician, flutemaker, folklorist, jewelry designer, educator, author, painter, and clothing designer. www.themagicofstorytelling.com | www.tchindesigns.com

Crux is a Jersey-born performance artist. She recently graduated from Temple University with a BFA in Dance. Currently, she is a freelance movement artist, teaching, performing and choreographing throughout Philadelphia. She is also the Marketing, Program and Space Manager of Leah Stein Dance Company. Crux is the co-founder of Forbidden Fruit, a collective created to engender healing and uplift the collective consciousness through art and creative energy. Crux is driven by a desire to make the healing powers of movement available and accessible to folks of all ages, backgrounds, and identities.

Emma Lynn Rose White Thunder was born in Port Townsend, WA. Living mostly in the Pacific Northwest, she traveled back with her family to South Dakota to the Pine Ridge reservation. She attended Whidbey Island Waldorf School until 6th grade, where she was pushed creatively and worked with a variety of different mediums, before attending Chimacum school district in Chimacum, WA. She received a full scholarship to attend The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA where she recently acquired a BFA.


UNLOCK ─ Performance by Propelled Animals
Friday, August 6, 2021 at 6:00pm7:30 pm  Free
After two-weeks of residence at the Schuylkill Center Propelled Animals will present the in-progress performance UNLOCK. The performance is part of the group’s multi-year effort to creatively decolonize natural spaces through visual art and dance. They will roam and lead a guided procession centering on environmental justice, anti-racism, and healing lineages. The performance will interweave dance, music, and guided experiences for audiences to witness and join in. More information about the event HERE


This performance program is supported by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and in creative collaboration with We Are The Seeds. As part of the Headlong’s Incubated Arts program in Philadelphia, Baker + Tarpaga Dance Project’s fiscal sponsor is Headlong Dance