Toshi Reagon Residency

World-renowned singer, composer, musician, curator, activist, producer, and storyteller Toshi Reagon is Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts 2021-2022 artist in residence.

During her residency at Wesleyan, Reagon will focus on research and development for a new performance piece, the "Disco Project," which traces disco’s journey from subversive underground communities to international fame and violent repression. 1960s and '70s discotheques were vibrant, safe spaces for Black and Queer joy and expression, and became spaces for revolution, activism, and protest. Reagon interrogates the intense anti-Black and homophobic backlash towards disco, from the "disco sucks" campaign to the disco demolition night in Chicago in 1979. She also explores how disco was appropriated by the global music economy, and how its demise intersected with the AIDS crisis. In telling the story of disco, Reagon ultimately examines how Black and Queer joy, expression, and movement in the United States is consistently and violently suppressed by institutional powers.

Reagon’s artist residency at Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Throughout the year, Reagon will be in conversation with Wesleyan faculty, students, and community members through meetings, workshops, public work-in-progress showings and performances, and classroom settings, both around the "Disco Project" and her currently-touring work, an opera adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s "Parable of the Sower." In the spring of 2022, Reagon will engage with students in several classes, including “Dance as Activism” taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance and African American Studies Joya Powell; and “Queering the Dancing Body” taught by Professor and Chair of the Dance Department, and Professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Hari Krishnan. Reagon will spend time during the summer of 2022 developing a work-in-progress showing of the "Disco Project" that will be one of the highlights of the 2022-23 Performing Arts Series at the Center for the Arts.

Click here to read the full press release "Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts announces Toshi Reagon as 2021-2022 Artist in Residence" for more information about Toshi Reagon and her artist residency.

Photos of Toshi Reagon by Flora Hanitijo.