Performance Artist Rhodessa Jones To Spend Month in Residence at UTD

RICHARDSON, Texas (Jan. 4, 2005) —Rhodessa Jones, co-artistic director of the acclaimed San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey, will be in residence at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) from Jan. 10 through Feb. 10. During her residency, Jones – a writer, dancer, director, actress and teacher — will work with UTD students and local residents to develop a performance piece that is scheduled to premiere at 8 p.m., Jan. 28, in the University Theatre on campus.

Jones has spent previous residencies at La Mama Umbria in Italy, the University of California at Berkley, the Yale School of Drama, California Arts Council, Women of the World Festival in Denmark and Stanford University.

Jones’ stay and performance at UTD are part of an annual residency program that Dr. Venus Opal Reese, assistant professor at UTD, plans to create in which a “noted performing/theatre/music/visual artist of African descent premieres a new work at UTD” and the artist credits UTD with premiering that work. Reese, who earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University, said she hopes the program will become a “university-wide initiative that fosters a win/win relationship, not only between the African American community in Dallas and UTD, but also among various schools and organizations on UTD’s campus.”

Jones credits the theatre for rescuing her from a downhill slide as a teenager. “My tendency is to say that art saves lives. I’m interested in the dialogue, in the public communion, in how to share our lives and ideas — and, hopefully, find some solutions,” she once told the San Jose Mercury. Jones founded the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women in 1989 as a way for female convicts to reassess their lives in hopes of reducing recidivism. In 2004, she started the Parachute Project, a theatre program focusing on youth, to reach troubled adolescents and teenagers and help them follow a more productive path.

A talented performance artist, Jones has participated in numerous productions throughout the world. In 1996, she created Deep in the Night, a reflection on aging, with commissions from the New England Foundation for the Arts and the San Francisco Art Commission. Two years later, she was awarded a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to create a new work with the Medea Project, Slouching Towards Armageddon: A Captive’s Conversation on Race. Jones performed opposite Rita Moreno in the Vagina Monologues in San Jose in 2000. Her recent projects include Hot FlashesPower Surges, & Private SummersTrail of Her Inner Thigh, and From Whores to Matriarchs: Black Women Survivors on the Edge.

The Jan. 28 performance, which will be free and open to the public, is being sponsored by the Office of President Franklyn Jenifer at UTD, the McDermott Library, the School of General Studies, UTD Multicultural Services, the Galerstein Women’s Center at UTD, the Student Union and Activities Advisory Board, the Carl J. Thomsen Fund for Student Enrichment, the Office of Student Affairs and External Relations and the School of Arts & Humanities.

More information about the performance may be found at

For information about the many musical, arts, theatre, dance and other performances and exhibitions held throughout the year at UTD, please call 972-UTD-ARTS (972-883-2787), e-mail [email protected], or visit the School of Arts and Humanities’ Web site at Persons with disabilities needing special accommodations may call 972-883-2982, Texas Relay Operator: 1-800-RELAYVV.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls about 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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