Lewis Center Fellows

mayfield brooks

mayfield brooks headshot

Photo by Brett Douglas Davis


mayfield brooks improvises while Black and is based in Lenapehoking, the unceded land of the Lenape people, also known as Brooklyn, New York. brooks is a movement-based performance artist, vocalist, urban farmer, writer, and wanderer. brooks teaches and performs practices that arise from Improvising While Black (IWB), their interdisciplinary dance methodology which explores the decomposed matter of Black life and engages in dance improvisation, disorientation, dissent, and ancestral healing.

They received a B.A. from Trinity College, an M.A. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, and an M.F.A. from the University of California, Davis. They also studied contemporary dance at The School for New Dance and somatic practices at Moving on Center: The School for Participatory Arts and Somatic Research. brooks is the editor-in-chief of the Movement Research Performance Journal and is part of the Movement Research teaching faculty. They are the 2021 recipient of the biennial Merce Cunningham Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and a 2021 Bessie/New York Dance & Performance Award nominee for their dance film, Whale Fall, made in collaboration with filmmaker Suzi Sadler.

News + Links

A Choreographer Diving Into Grief Looks to Whales” | The New York Times, April 2021

Making Dance Out of Survival Skills and Reckoning With Grief” | The New York Times, April 2022