From Brooklyn to Black Holes: Five Facts about Shamel Pitts 

March 7, 2024
TRIBE image. Three dancers against a black background. From the BLACK HOLE – Trilogy And Triathlon.

Check out these fascinating facts about Shamel Pitts | TRIBE: BLACK HOLE - Trilogy And Triathlon before their three performances at the Walker Art Center, copresented with Northrop, on Mar 21-23.


Top photo by The Adeboye Brothers.

Shamel Pitts and two dancers join limbs on stage.

Photo by Itai Zwecker

Genuine Passion, New York Talent

Shamel Pitts is an accomplished choreographer, dancer, conceptual artist, performance artist, spoken word artist, and teacher. A Brooklynite with deep NYC roots, Pitts danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance, was a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, and teaches as an adjunct professor at Juilliard School of Music. His art film Lake Of Red was selected as an entry to the 2020 Cannes Short Film Festival.

Three figures posing on a black background. They are colored red, blue, and green.

Photo by The Adeboye Brothers

What a Black Hole Contains

BLACK HOLE is the third installment in Pitts’ “BLACK series triptych.” According to NASA, “a black hole is so dense that gravity just beneath its surface, the event horizon, is strong enough that nothing—not even light—can escape.” Rather than explain the physics of a black hole, this piece invokes the potency of black holes to explore what the unknown contains. In 2018, BLACK HOLE won the Cross Award in Verbania, Italy. The triptych series began with BLACK VELVET: Architectures and Archetypes, a reckoning with selfhood in systems. BLACK BOX: Little Black Book of Red was second, and featured a ruminative solo by Pitts. 

Three gold-dusted dancers intertwine on stage.

Photo by The Adeboye Brothers

Rooted in Afrofuturism

Afrofuturism, according to curator Kevin Strait at the National Museum of African American History & Culture, is an ever-evolving concept, rooted in a Black cultural lens, through which works of art and activism can envision liberated, empowered futures for Black people. Afrofuturist themes can be found in a number of celebrated works. Notable innovators in the genre include the award-winning writer Octavia Butler; singer, songwriter, rapper and actress Janelle Monáe, and celebrated science fiction and fantasy writer N.K. Jemisin.

Shamel Pitts, Tushrik Fredericks, and Ashley Pierre-Louis, layered together in a shadow profile.

Photo by Itai Zwecker

A Collective Called TRIBE

Pitts is the founder of TRI314 Multidisciplinary Performances, a.k.a. TRIBE, (, a multidisciplinary arts collective based in Brooklyn, NY. The nonprofit is made up of artists from all over the world, working in the mediums of movement, choreography, video mapping, poetry, painting, cinematography, scenography, dramaturgy, and composition. As told to Brooklyn Magazine, “The collective gathers diverse artists from across the globe—Black, queer, alternative or non-binary. Functioning akin to a rock band, each artist possesses their unique expertise, or artistic “instrument”...coming together to collaborate when inspiration strikes. TRIBE creates a platform for artists of color to perform works that humanize Black people.

Photo by The Adeboye Brothers.

More from Shamel Pitts: Touch of RED

Pitts’ latest work is Touch of RED from the “RED Series,” through which he continues his “research to propose and share the colorfulness within blackness.” In the new duet, two men perform inside of a contemporary ring, where they “deal with the allowance of black men to soften; the power in vulnerability; the meeting point of two individuals within a boxed space that references a futuristic and voyeuristic gladiator entertainment site in which a heat path between the two performers builds not out of aggression or combat but within an enhanced electrifying effeminacy that heals.”