How to be Afraid?

mayfield brooks and Mary Pearson (2021)

Excerpt from 'How to be Afraid?' online performance by mayfield brooks and Mary Pearson with collaborators Akeim Toussaint Buck, Seke Chimutengwende, Anne-Gaëlle Thiriot and Amy Voris from May 28, 2021. Video edited by George Maund.


‘How to be Afraid?’ investigates the afterlife of the transatlantic slave in relation to body, time and space. Over the past four years, iterations of this project have manifested in in a number of international contexts.

This iteration explored somatic responses to the turbulent politics and pandemic conditions of the past year and how it has shifted perspectives and realities.

The project revolved around the nature of fear itself. How do we navigate this time when political and societal pressure needs to be released? How do we recover from a fear of intimacy, if we are afraid, after a year of lockdowns and physical distancing?

Due to pandemic circumstances, this project was delivered transatlantically in hybrid mode, with mayfield brooks based at Center for Performance Research in New York and Mary Pearson and other collaborators at Siobhan Davies Studios.

This iteration of How to be Afraid? was co-produced by Mary Pearson, mayfield brooks and Independent Dance in partnership with CPR – Center for Performance Research (New York), The Bluecoat (Liverpool) supported through public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and with support from Creative Land Trust.

mayfield brooks improvises while black, and is currently based on Lenapehoking, the homeland of the Lenape people, also known as Brooklyn, New York. brooks is a movement-based performance artist, vocalist, urban farmer, writer, and wanderer. They are faculty at Movement Research NYC and Editor-in-Chief of the Movement Research Performance Journal. brooks is also the 2021 recipient of the biennial Merce Cunningham Award in dance granted by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and a 2021 Bessie/New York Dance and Performance Award nominee for their dance film, Whale Fall. brooks teaches and performs practices that arise from their life/art/movement work, Improvising While Black (IWB).

Mary Pearson is a performance maker and dancer/researcher working with Contact Improvisation and related dance practices, comedy, visual art, voice, and devising. Her solos FAILURE, The Sand Dog Cometh and FoMO, mofos! have toured internationally. Fascinated by collaboration as a complex and coordinated practice in survival, Mary is co- curator of Con|VERGE, REMIX collaborative performance residencies at Ponderosa Dance (DE). She teaches improvisation as a FAILURE Lab in universities and art contexts such as Improspecjie festival (Croatia), contactfestival Freiburg (Germany), WCCIJam and PADL West (CA, USA), Ponderosa P.O.R.C.H. summer school (Germany), and Live Art Bistro (UK). As a qualified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, she facilitates release of trauma held in the body.

George Maund is a cross-discipline artist, performer and broadcaster based in Liverpool, north west Europe since 2005. His most recent set of work is subtitled 'Psych Capital' and deals in subversive mixed-media interventions into and concerning the realm of neoliberal encroachment on 'the counterculture', taking inspiration (or lack thereof) from billionaire wellness retreats and late-stage capitalism's strange excesses and obsessions. In working life George has moved from touring musician to programming 'in-person' live music venues, to facilitating online iterations of performance and hybrid events, specialising in remote audio-visual broadcasts that retain an air of playful flair with room for creative manoeuvre for collaborators and audiences alike. George has been part of the team behind the Popular Music Show - UK radio's longest-running alternative music programme - at BBC Merseyside since 2017, currently presenting on a bi-monthly basis. He currently hosts and/or co-hosts several shows out of Melodic Distraction, Liverpool's internet radio station.

mayfield and Mary’s collaborators: