Curated by award-winning choreographer Reggie Wilson, Grounds that Shout! (and others merely shaking) was a series of performances in May 2019, that responded to the layered histories of Philadelphia’s religious spaces through contemporary dance and reflected on the relationships and connections between practices of movement and worship. Over two weeks, eight choreographers and performance groups performed in four historic Philadelphia churches, drawing from site and spirit to present original and re-situated works of dance.

On May 2, 3, and 4, Reggie Wilson’s own Fist and Heel Performance Group performed … they stood shaking while others began to shout following a two-week residency at Church of the Advocate. These evenings also featured performances by Germaine Ingram and David Brick.

On May 11, the series culminated with a series of original performances by Meg Foley, Lela Aisha Jones | FlyGround, Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, and Tania Isaac, in partnership with members of the church congregations at three historic Society Hill churches. Attendees moved from one site-specific performance to the next in a procession through St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Old Pine Street Church, and Mother Bethel AME Church. This cycle of performances was staged three times over the course of a single day.

In addition to the performances, three panel discussions offered further insight into the process and thinking behind the artistic production of Grounds that Shout!, featuring dialogues with key contributors as well as thinkers affiliated with the project’s themes.


The curator, partners, and producers of Grounds That Shout! (and others merely shaking) reflect on the project’s development process. This panel will featured Reggie Wilson (Curator), Judy Hussie-Taylor (Danspace, Executive Director), Karen DiLossi (Director, Arts in Sacred Spaces), and Kerry Bickford (Programming Director, Philadelphia Contemporary) and was moderated by Arielle Julia Brown (Project Dramaturge).

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An exploration on how practices across ethnography, liturgical dance and post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern Dance intersect in movement practice, cultural transmission and text-based articulation. This panel of dance scholars and makers meditated on historical, contemporary and emergent repertoires of Black sacred dance.


Respective community leaders across St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Old Pine Street Church and Mother Bethel A.M.E Church for this panel engaged the public histories of these three neighboring colonial era churches. Ranging from topics of precolonial land histories, to histories of slavery and enduring memorial rites and practices, this panel contended with the question, “What does it mean to be an enduring neighbor across shared and divergent practices of land occupancy, faith tradition and legacies of subjugation and freedom?”

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About the Curator

Reggie Wilson founded Fist and Heel Performance Group a year after graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (1988). The Company’s name is drawn from negative comments by white and black authorities who derided reinvented spiritual traditions of enslaved Africans in the Americas as ‘fist and heel worshiping.’

Wilson’s dance practice is rooted in the idea of kinesthetic anthropology, a deeply personal examination of how individuals and communities use their bodies. Previous Fist and Heel works have focused on the African diaspora and the role of churches in the movement. Through projects in the US, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, Wilson has developed a global understanding of the intersections between African culture in the Americas, religion, and movement.

Grounds the Shout! (and others merely shaking) is an exciting opportunity to experience Wilson’s unique ‘post-African/Neo-Hoodoo Modern dances’ in rich historic spaces in two Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Grounds that Shout! In the news… News Desk, April 1, 2019
Reggie Wilson Explores African-American Religious Spaces In New Performance Series Independent Coverage of Philadelphia Theatre and Arts, Smalley Bogg, April 15, 2019
The Grounds Shout: Reggie Wilson and Local Artists Bring Performance to Sacred Spaces

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ellen Dunkel, April 29, 2019
Four Historic Philly Churches Are the Unlikely Stages for an Important New Work of American Dance

WHYY NPR Radio Arts & Entertainment, Peter Crimmins, April 30, 2019 with link to Audio Broadcasted Stream
Experimental Dance Performance Mixes ‘High Art’ with Historic Philly Churches

Artblog, Wit López, May 1, 201
Shaking and Shouting, Arielle Julia Brown and Lela Aisha Jones on their roles in Reggie Wilson’s ‘Grounds That Shout! (and others merely shaking)’

Philly Voice, Thom Carroll, May 2, 2019
Local Churches Set the Stage for New Dance Performance.
The Intersection of Dance and Worship in Philadelphia

Hyperallergic, Megan Voeller, May 20, 2019
Dance Performances in Historic Churches Revive Spiritual Histories

For information about Grounds that Shout, the Arts in Sacred Places program and our space-sharing solutions, please contact Karen DiLossi at 215-567-3234 x. 16 or email

Grounds that Shout! (and Others Merely Shaking) has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage