Black Light is a multi-year collaborative performance directed by Minnesota-based dancer-choreographer, Alanna Morris (formerly Morris-Van Tassel, City Pages' Artist of the Year, Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" and 2021 McKnight Choreographer Fellow). This work explores birth, creation, death, and life transitions while honoring noble ancestry. It ventures into the nobility of black-ness; the divinity of feminine creative energy; and the harnessing of sensual expression. Black Light a re:Search performance is a natural world-inspired expression of interwoven local and global identities.

This event will be captioned, with other accessibility services available upon request.

Please note:  This work contains frontal nudity and may not be suitable for persons under the age of 16..

“After years of astounding performances with TU Dance, in which her emotional bravery matched her aesthetic integrity, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel ventured out on her own. And what a debut it was. In her solo, Yam, Potatoe an Fish! she delved into notions of home, displacement, race, and memory to create a personal cultural history that rang with universal truths. She found inspiration in her family’s migration from the Caribbean to Brooklyn, as well as her grandmother’s Yoruba-influenced Spiritual Baptist faith. Through her own body—athletic, articulate, and full of grace—she generated a movement vocabulary infused with muscular power and soul-soothing prayer.” —City Pages, Best Choreographer 2019

Yam, Potatoe an Fish! Former TU dancer Alanna Morris-Van Tassel stepped into the realm of dance-making with gusto, using her considerable gifts as a performer to fuel her choreographic voice.” —Star Tribune, Best of Dance 2018

“Wherever you find her, Morris-Van Tassel embodies the power of dance to create deep and lasting connections where words cannot.” —Dance Magazine, “25 to Watch”

event info

This performance will be held at The Cowles Center

528 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

View The Cowles Center's entire 2021-22 Season.

Fri, Feb 4, 2022, 7:30 pm
Sat, Feb 5, 2022, 7:30 pm (followed by an Artist Q&A)
Sun, Feb 6, 2022, 2:00 pm

Please note: At this time, the Cowles Center requires all attendees to show either proof of a full course of COVID-19 vaccination administered at least 14 days before the event or a negative COVID-19 test taken in the prior 72 hours. Masks are also required at all times. Learn more here.


Learn More

The content below derives from the Northrop Across Campus Program that supports Northrop's mission towards intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.

Northrop Across Campus participants are invited to a special Campus and Community Partner night of Black Light a re:Search performance, Thu, Feb 3. Please contact for more information.

Explore These Themes

Find ways to make thematic connections to these suggested courses.

Dance: Modern, Contemporary, Multi-Genre

Theatrical Storytelling

Spirituality and Healing

Cultural Studies/Global Studies/Diaspora Studies

Mortuary Science/Death Rituals

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies

African American Studies

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Social Justice/Civil Rights

American Studies/American Cultural Studies/American History


Music: Multi-Genre

Take a deeper dive into these resources that provide more information about the company of performers, the history of the artform, and where you can learn more about the artistic process!


The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Elkhart Tolle (Book)

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown (Book)  Find it at the U of M Library  or

Uses of the Erotic by Audre Lorde


ENGAGE: Above and Beyond

This research performance guide is a way to further engage with audience members looking to fuel a deeper and artistically enriching viewing experience. Please read the quotes, questions, tasks, and resources below in order to prepare yourself for an interactive artistic experience during the performance, an engaging post-show conversation, and ongoing individual exploration beyond this showcase of work.

The Hero’s Journey and the Essence Self 

“At any point you can make a profound change in your body by just using your mind.” -Jane Kosminsky, Teacher of Alexander Technique

“We create our own reality.” - Seth

  • How much creativity do you find in the continual authoring of your life?  When faced with a challenge how much flexibility or grace do you give to your understanding of your life situation as a themed story, much like a play, in which *you have engaged the characters and events for a certain outcome?  
  • Dream quest! Get still and quietly go on a visionary adventure. Make it your intention to connect with an aspect of yourself that is calling for your attention. Ask her/him/them questions. Time is a continuum. Write your answers down. It may help to have a candle, a photo, a stone, any implement nearby to support your journey. or nothing at all!

*There are many names for this aspect of Self. Some call it God, the god-self, one’s greater subjectivity. 

Goddess Worship & The Veneration of the Divine Feminine 

Chaos is just higher order.” - Eniola Orisagbemi Adelekan

  • What cosmological view did you grow up with/were socialized into? 

    • In that cosmological view is there space for a Creator that is trans-gendered or non-gendered? To quote Trinidadian artist-scholar, Jamie Philbert, how is the divine feminine energy/principle seen as both vessel and source? 
  • Dream quest! Go on a search. 
    • What examples can you find, cosmologically, in which masculine and feminine principles are treated as equals, both in form and in a creative role?

*Cosmology is defined as the study of the order of the universe/world (Metu Neter Vol. 1). “First, it provides an ordered and unified (synthetical) view of who and what is God, Man, and the forces that administrate and sustain the world. Second, cosmology (like all blueprints and maps) provides a framework that guides thinking and action through the vast array of seemingly unrelated life situations to the successful identification and attainment of the goal of living.” —Ra Un Amen Nefer, Metu Neter Vol. 1

Oracles from the Natural World: “As so within, so without” The Principle of Correspondence, a Hermetic law of ancient Kemet

  • The project takes inspiration from and is in conversation with the natural world—a connection with the earth and her seasons. Consider that many traditional and Indigenous societies around the world, past, present, and future, practice living in the right relationship with nature (as opposed to the exploitative and extractive resourcing from the earth that has come to be synonymous with capitalism since the rise of the Industrial Revolution). What communities are you plugged into that see life and human progress as participatory and holistic?
  • Dream quest! Spend some time in nature. Give an offering and ask to receive a lesson.  Write your experience down and lean into the exploring of how that principle learned could express itself in other ways in your life, thoughts, or even your day! Cultivate an awareness of gleaning lessons from what you see around you every day.

Self Pleasure

“We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But, once recognized, those which do not enhance Our future lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our desires keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance. The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, ex-ternally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our op-pression as women. [...] This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to deeply feel all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of.” - Audre Lorde, writer, Uses of the Erotic 

“The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The black goddess within each of us—the poet—whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free.” - Audre Lorde

  • Ancestor Audre Lorde explains in Uses of the Erotic that the erotic differs from the pornographic and brings empowerment to our lives as women and those otherwise identified. 
  • Dream quest! Food for thought. What have you been taught regarding self-pleasure and how empowering have those messages been?

The Shadow Self and the Latent Psyche

“What you resist persists” - The Law of Attraction

  • In analytical psychology (Jung) the shadow self is typically a reference to the unconscious aspect of the personality—unknown, unidentified with, and sometimes shunned.
  • Dream quest! Consider that for anything to cast a shadow there must first be a source of light. Talk with someone you trust about your shadow self. The light is nearby.

Cycles of Death, Life, and Rebirth 

How do we recognize what is sacred in our lives and become centered in that?”

“Death is the twin of Life.”  - Louis Alemayehu, poet, Akhenaten’s Dream

  • The project is developing before and during the age of COVID-19, at a time of great social transition and loss. Further dramatized in presentation at the Great Northern Festival and midwinter season. Grief has been a unifying factor in all our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic and social movements for change both locally and around the world. 
    • What do we know (experientially) about Winter? How do we sustain life during the Winter months? What dies and what is reborn? What form of life persists? What is the function of the energy of Creation during the winter season? 
  • Dream quest! Meditate on the questions above. Then recall your ritual practices to honor the destructive-creative principle in Life.