TESSEL: an expression of Black resilience

Tessel © Esie Mensah Creations

The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 has revived everyday trauma for many and awakened others to the struggles that Black and Afro-descendant communities face in Canada. At the NAC, we are committed to our engagement towards positive social impact and in dismantling systemic racism on stage and in our institutions, as individuals and as a collective. For this to happen, we will continue to take multiple actions for more diverse, accessible, equitable and inclusive spaces that value the voices and stories of diverse communities.

NAC Dance is proud to support and be a co-presenting partner of the world premiere of the digital short film TESSEL, a national initiative of unity that brings together 14 Black dancemakers and 21 dance presenters from across Canada.

TESSEL was created and directed by choreographer and dancemaker Esie Mensah and co-commissioned by Fall for Dance North and Harbourfront Centre.

This short film explores the complexities of movement and voice as a form of resilience and features the stories and lived experiences of 14 pioneering Black artists through a vital conversation on what it means to be an artist in this moment. By challenging the global discourse on race, Esie Mensah set out to create a new pathway that did not focus on Black trauma but instead highlighted the victories of Black communities. With TESSEL, Esie hopes to spark further conversation and open both minds and hearts towards empathy and understanding.

Premiering on the one-year anniversary of Blackout Tuesday - a day when organizations worldwide, including the NAC, publicly expressed their commitment towards institutional change to support Black communities - the film showcases Black excellence in Canadian dance and aims to amplify Black voices by providing a platform for the artists to share their truths and step into the power of their collective voice.

TESSEL is now streaming for free at tessel.film and includes English and French subtitles.