Maria Bauman(she, hers) is a Bessie-Award-winning, Brooklyn, NY-based, multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer from Jacksonville, FL. Bauman is also a sought-after facilitator and public speaker on the topics of social justice practices within performing arts, embodied and arts-based leadership development, and racial equity in the arts. She creates bold and honest artworks for her company MBDance (www.mbdance.net), based on physical and emotional power, insistence on equity, and fascination with intimacy. Bauman brings the same tenets to organizing to undo racism in the arts and beyond with ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity), the grassroots organizing body she co-founded with Sarita Covington and Nathan Trice. In particular, Bauman’s site-responsive dance work centers the non-linear and linear stories and bodies of queer people of color in multiple ritual settings. She draws on her long study of English literature, capoeira, improvisation, dancing in living rooms and nightclubs, as well as concert dance classes to embody interconnectedness, joy, and tenacity. Currently, she is an Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow and a BRIClab resident artist. She has also been Community Action Artist in Residence at Gibney Dance, Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and DiP Artist Resident under the direction of Eva Yaa Asantewaa.
Bauman’s art has been celebrated both formally and informally. She won a 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance with Skeleton Architecture. She is currently one of five national Fellows with the Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Initiative, as well as being a 2019-20 Gibney Dance in Process resident artist. She and her company were awarded a 2020 Dance Advance grant from Dance/NYC and a 2020 Brooklyn Arts Foundation creation grant. She was an Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange from 2017 to 2019 and was also 2017 Community Action in Residence at Gibney Dance. Bauman is also a mentor with Queer l Art. Some of the best recognition she has gotten is from teenagers in New Haven’s Black and Brown Queer Camp who, upon seeing her dance exclaimed “Ooooooooo! She baaaad!“
In New York, Bauman’s work has been showcased at Harlem Stage, SummerStage NYC, Danspace at St. Mark’s, BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, Dixon Place, the Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts, WOW Café Theater, and more. Bauman and MBDance have also shared artworks across the U.S., in South Africa, and in Singapore.
Before founding MBDance, she was Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women (UBW) and danced with that company for many years. During her tenure with UBW, Bauman was also Director of Education and Community Engagement at the helm of the BOLD (Builders, Organizers, and Leaders through Dance) initiative. She continues to be an annual faculty member for the UBW Summer Leadership Institute, and she is part of the Summer Leadership Institute Advisory and Planning Council.
As a cultural organizer, Bauman has partnered with various kinds of groups to lift up important social issues and calls for justice via art. She and the other two co-founders of ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity), a grassroots community organizing group dedicated to ensuring racial equity within the performing arts, were recently honored with the 2018 BAX Arts and Artists in Progress Award for “the work you do to undo racism in our daily lives while lifting up the work and lives of your membership.” Bauman has facilitated community engagement workshops for El Puente, Chorus America, Ramapo College, Rider University, and has helped create cultural campaigns with various locals of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She has been a keynote speaker and core facilitator for the 2018 Day of Learning on Equity & Inclusion, Camille A. Brown’s 2016 Black Girl Spectrum Convening, several Cultural Organizing for Community Change symposiums, and for NOCD-NY’s From the Neighborhood Up Roundtable. She is a Core Trainer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond working closely with them on Understanding and Undoing Racism workshops for arts communities, and is a WOW Café Theatre collective member (theater space by and for women and transgender artists). Bauman is a founding member of the Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts Working Group (NOCD-NY).
Original header image: Lola Flash