About This Artist

Headmistress image

Amara Tabor-Smith & Sherwood Chen

Of Headmistress


Headmistress is a collaborative entity between San Francisco Bay Area-based choreographers and dancers Amara Tabor-Smith and Sherwood Chen initiated in 2009. Representing seasoned, distinct and sometimes disparate lineages, they interweave their respective choreographic approaches as a means to navigate intimate movement histories with enduring questions around ancestral, national, transcultural connections. Their work challenges their respective identities and artistic methods in an effort to imagine new performance terrain.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph curated Headmistress to open Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ 2009 Left Coast Leaning Festival. Tabor-Smith and Chen were 2010 Artists in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in collaboration with video artist Eric Koziol, and have continued their research this winter at L’École des Sables in Senegal and in Guinea.

Headmistress has performed as part of curated group shows including Judson Church/Movement Research’s venerable weekly series in New York; Topographies: Sites, Bodies, Technologies, an international conference hosted by Society for Dance Historians and Scholars and the Dance Critic’s Association at ODC Dance Commons in San Francisco; and CounterPULSE in San Francisco. Headmistress are artists in residence (2012-2015) at ODC Theatre.

Simultaneous Transmissions is a movement workshop which draws upon the unstable links — between movement and language, between analog to digital to corporal — in the effort to develop individuated improvisations which shake up pattern sourcing from individual “expression.” Led by Headmistress (performing at CounterPULSE October 10-12), this workshop will begin with a rhythmic warm-up, followed by exploring modes of simultaneous translation and transmission in improvisation. Dress to move and to sweat and bring headphones if you can.

Amara Tabor-Smith

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Amara Tabor-Smith is San Francisco born, Oakland based. She was a member The Ed Mock Dance Company and has worked with other choreographers and Theater artists such as, Anne Bluethenthal, Priscilla Regalado, Pearl Ubungen, Jacinta Vlach/Liberation Dance Theater, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Ase Dance Theater Collective, Joanna Haigood, Anna Deveare Smith, Herbert Siquenza, The SF Mime Troupe, Make A Circus, Aya de Leon and Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Amara is the former Associate Artistic Director and dancer with The Urban Bush Women Dance Company of New York City (1996-2006).  Amara Choreographed Shakti Butler’s documentary film, “Making Whiteness Visible” in which she also appears as a dancer. She has taught at Naropa University in Boulder, CO., University of Omaha, NE., Columbia College in Chicago, The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM , Berkeley High School and is currently a Lecturer at UC Berkeley in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.






Sherwood Chen

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Sherwood Chen has worked as a performer with artists including Anna Halprin, Min Tanaka, l’agence touriste, Ko Murobushi, Marina Abramovic, Grisha Coleman, Sara Shelton Mann, Arcane Collective, Oguri and Do Hee Lee. He has been a contributing performer to Shinichi Iova-Koga’s inkBoat since 2005. Sherwood has worked with Body Weather Laboratory training, initiated by Tanaka, since 1993, and was a resident member of Tanaka’s Mai Juku. He continues leading workshops in the US and abroad. He has been an artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts with Headmistress, Cap Quinze in Marseille, Cultural Exchange Station in Tábor (CESTA), and Point Éphémère. Forthcoming projects include work directed by Sara Shelton Mann as part of her Eye of Leosolos,  a residency at the Fazenda São João in rural Rio de Janeiro, and performing in Xavier Le Roy’s Rétrospective at the Centre Pompidou.







Member Reception Sponsor: 

Mr. Smith’s, 34 7th Street, San Francisco 94103



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