New Year, New Leadership

by Erica Dixon ~ January 15th, 2015


Tomás Riley and Julie Phelps

CounterPulse is pleased to announce the hiring of a new Executive Director – completing the assembly of the new Executive-Artistic dual-leadership team. New hire, Tomás Riley, will serve as Executive Director in partnership with recently appointed Artistic Director, Julie Phelps. Tomás and Julie will lead the next phases of the organization’s commitment to catalyze social action through serving and supporting risk-taking, assumption-shattering art.

Tomás brings us nearly twenty years of leadership in creative community engagement and education throughout California and the US. He was the Executive Director of ArtsChange, creating arts engagement opportunities for teens in the city of Richmond, while also leading a capital campaign to further develop the organization. After his move to the Bay Area in 2002, Tomás served as a “poet mentor” for Youth Speaks, initiating literacy programs throughout the Bay Area. Most recently he served as the Director of Experience and Community Engagement at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco. His united leadership experience in community-based arts programming and social-justice driven artistic practice qualifies him as an outstanding addition to the CounterPulse team.

Julie Phelps has been with CounterPulse for over seven years, serving most recently as Program Director, before being appointed Artistic Director in the Fall of 2014. She embodies the hybrid strategies of curator, artist, and community activist, as a mode of advancing the multi-missioned agenda of CounterPulse. As part of her work at CounterPulse, she has led the design and implementation of numerous initiatives including transitioning from a rental venue to an entirely curated program, launching community-based programming with low-income neighboring residents, and instigating cross-cultural exchange projects in Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Sweden and most recently the African continent. In addition to her work at CounterPulse, she has toured nationally and internationally as a performer. In the coming year, Julie will lead the design of the facility and programming at CounterPulse’s new home on Turk Street.


Tuesday Testimonial

by Muisi-kongo Malonga ~ October 28th, 2014

BTS Congo Week 2014Kimpa Vita! MK Image 2013

Last week marked the 7th annual Breaking the Silence Congo Week, a global week of awareness and a call to action in the struggle for human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am reminded that centuries later descendants of the Kongo Kingdom are still struggling to rise up from the ashes. Mama Kimpa Vita’s mission is yet unfulfilled. Her voice calls for us to stand up bravely and face the forces that would stamp out all that is sacred, all that is spirit.


Savage Evening by Sam Stone

by Virginia Broyles ~ October 21st, 2014


a blog posting for vîv.

by sam stone

The topic ­what it feels like to have your self-­produced show opening in two weeks. And

of course, we aren’t the only ones who have ever ventured to do such a thing. We all

know the intensity that pursues when you add up all that is a show. It’s everything that

goes on stage plus everything that goes on behind the stage, not to mention taking care

of our dear audiences, and then also ourselves… But a many people write about this, and

it’s not in my interest (and maybe not yours) to rant on and on about our to do list.

to do list trashed.

I’d like to talk about these women I am working with. These incredible beings ranging

from type A to type Z that do far more than you’ll ever know to support one another. We

do not log every hour spent making the production happen. We just do what we’ve got to

do. And all that is done (which I promise you exceeds the eight hour work day) translates

into a simple nod of the head. a check mark. a ‘no problem.’ Ahh. wait, let me be clear.

There is no need to pat us on the backs, no need to taking sympathy. Because, here

there is no ‘what have I been doing with my life?!’ backlash. We love what we do. We

know that rehearsals exercise our creative intelligence, performing offers us a chance to

share our art, and all of that administrative stuff? We just love it! no, I am completely lying.

but. maybe on a good day, we have the patience to see things falling into place.

Sometimes, I just write an email or a spreadsheet, and I feel like YES! big step Sam. way

to go.
The dance the dance the dance you say? We are a mother &@*&$ jungle! Snakes and

Bears and Dancers oh my. Animal themes are in the air, and at that, so is Illinois. Fun fact,

both our lovely Bianca Cabrera and Kathleen Hermesdorf hail from Northern Illinois.


Free writing on Bianca Cabrera’s Bear Down.

It’s a heated piece. The movement is thick and full. Our relationships are like swampy

creatures sliding alongside one another. And sometimes the fog settles and there is

clarity, detail, character and humanity. I am really enjoying running through this one.

Sometimes a dance can build really well for a performer. It’s map makes perfect sense to

the speed of my breath, the stretch of my limbs. And can I just say, holy wow. The dancers

are honestly exquisite in this one. To love the talent and persona of those of whom you

dance with is such a treat. Pieces of this work were made for individuals, and watching it

you just know that that dancer owns it. I truly look forward to every time I have the

opportunity to interact with everyone, knowing that each run will be different. This is not a

5,6,7,8 dance. It is a dance for the intelligent dancer. The dancer who feels out timing as

it comes along. Bianca is giving us a beautiful gift and she has been highly considerate of

who we are individually and as a collective.


Free writing on Kathleen Hermesdorf’s Ouroboros.

Oh mannn… today was the first day we slipped back into the piece after a long summer of

nada. Immediately I notice the vast difference in quality from Bianca’s movement. It’s a

looser fit, more room for joints to bounce, retract, carve or fly. This is the piece that

brought us together. And now! We are teaching it to Elizabeth Chitty who is stepping in to

bring new energy to the piece. That girl is smart! She has this thing practically down after

only two rehearsals. We rehearsed on a basketball court today so the feeling of it isn’t

back just yet. It’s funny how different you feel through shoes than through bare feet. And

this piece uses the ground in a big way. In the past I have felt a certain insanity

performing this piece. The kind of insanity edged on by those dancing around me. But

who knows what it will be now, especially paired with the amebic like Bear Down.

O. blog writing is kind of fun. I have many thoughts on everything we are doing. And no

one even gave me a proper topic for this one! So, if you have any questions or themes

that you want me to write on, I am intrigued, and may just accept your challenge.


Until then, we are vîv. Our show is October 24th and 25th and CounterPulse. all is




$10,000 Art and Tech Match now live!

by Shamsher ~ October 20th, 2014

We have radically exciting news… Our DJ pals from Honey Soundsystem and our tech-savvy neighbors at Twitter have each pledged $5,000 in matching funds to our Indiegogo campaign! That’s a $10,000 Art and Tech Match to build the new CounterPulse! So if our tantalizing perks weren’t irresistible enough on their own, you and your friends can now triple your money thanks to Twitter and Honey Soundsystem!

This is the kind of collaboration between art and tech that will create the San Francisco we want to live in, where innovation drives our cultural dialogue as well as our technology. Please consider making a contribution and share the news so that we can take advantage of this generous match. Hard to pass up the chance to triple the impact of your dollars, no?


Kimpa, Laura, Marie, Amy…

by Muisi-kongo Malonga ~ October 3rd, 2014

As a woman of African descent, born to an African American mother and a Central African father, I believe this project reflects the uniqueness of my journey and addresses many of the questions that permeate my existence, as I seek God, and wrestle with womanhood, motherhood, Africanity, AfricanAmericanity and all of the ‘anities’ and ‘isms’ that come along with it. As I delve deeper into Mama Kimpa Vita’s story, the voices of kindred mother-martyrs have turned from whispers to raised voices,  adding the thread of their lives to the tapestry of this wondrous  works.

Mama Kimpa Vita

Mama Laura Nelson

Mama Marie Turner

(Mama) Amy Spain

And to all of the other mothers

whose graves are yet unmarked


whose rest has been anything but peaceful

and whom history would like to erase…

We have not forgotten you nor will we let them forget.

Photo Credit: Images by Audrey

Muisi-kongo Malonga In Kimpa Vita!  (Photo Credit: Images by Audrey)