red burst with dancer shadow

By Gesel Mason 

burst! is part of an ongoing investigation by Gesel Mason that seeks to reimagine our identities and create space for individual voices to impact our collective community. Using contemporary dance and movement techniques, burst! is developed as an extension of Mason's project Yes, And. This methodology works to unravel our current perceptions of self and society in search of freedom; the freedom "to find" and to "be found" from a recalibrated place. 

The term "burst" can mean many things - bursting with joy, with laughter, with color; or a burst of anger or violence. To "burst" can also be to rupture or to disrupt. This work is one chapter of a larger investigation of this concept, developed in part through Mason's work at the Texas Performing Arts/Fusebox Festival residency program in fall 2020. As time continues to march forward, how do our shared experiences and voices shift? How can we find ourselves amidst this ever-changing landscape? What can we learn from this moment and how do we find our own unique voice while holding space for each other? 


Gesel Mason is a choreographer, performer, educator and arts facilitator. She is Artistic Director of Gesel Mason Performance Projects and an Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin. She was a member of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance Projects. She has also performed with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah and under the direction of Chuck Davis, Jacek Łumiński (Silesian Dance Theatre), Murray Louis and Victoria Marks.

Mason’s solo project, NO BOUNDARIES: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers, has featured the work of Kyle Abraham, Robert Battle, Rennie Harris, Dianne McIntyre, Donald McKayle, Bebe Miller, David Rousséve, Reggie Wilson, Andrea E. Woods Valdéz and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. NO BOUNDARIES has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, NEFA’s National Dance Project and National Performance Network. Mason is also working on creating a digital archive, recently featured on NPR, to illuminate the unique inventions, legacies and aesthetics of the choreographers and to reveal the tenacity, resilience and diversity of Black dance across seven decades.

In her own work, Mason utilizes dance, theater, humor and storytelling to bring visibility to voices unheard, situations neglected or perspectives considered taboo. In 2017, Mason was one of four choreographers commissioned to create work for American Dance Festival’s Footprints. In 2015, Mason received a Map Fund for her project antithesis, which challenged how female sexuality is perceived, performed and (re)presented. Mason was one of six choreographers selected by the Joyce Theater for a Rockefeller Residency Initiative in 2011 and received the Millennium Stage Local Dance Commissioning Project from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2007.


February 25-27 at 7:30 p.m.

Performances of burst! have now concluded. Those interested in lending support for this project and the work of Texas Theatre and Dance may do so here. (Please note that this support does not include the ability to stream the performance after live shows have concluded). 

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