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Maria Bauman

Based in Brooklyn, MBDance Artistic Director Maria Bauman is a Bessie-Award winning multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer from Jacksonville, FL. She creates bold and honest artworks for her company MBDance, based on physical and emotional power, insistence on equity, and experiments with intimacy. She draws on her studies of English literature, Capoeira, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, improvisation, dancing in living rooms and nightclubs, as well as concert dance training to embody interconnectedness, joy and tenacity. She is also a community organizer and co-founder of ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity). Organizing to undo racism informs her art-making and the two are folded together within her practice. 

Bauman founded MBDance in 2009. After dancing with as well as serving as Director of Education Community Engagement and then Associate Artistic Director for Urban Bush Women, she had been creating dance works as a freelance choreographer. Bauman formed her company to further amplify her unique creative perspective and to support dancers in honing the particular blend of physical risk and athleticism, Capoeira-esque floorwork and spatiality, emphasis on race and equity, and willingness to investigate intimacy in various forms that Bauman's work excels within. 

Currently, Bauman is a Mertz-Gilmore/NYFA dance award winner and the Queer Exchange Network artist on behalf of BAAD!. She is developing a new outdoor artwork called These are the bodies that have not borne. She was recently a Rankin Fellow at Drexel University where she stewarded a community-engaged performative installation there called Womb: The Black Wealth Project. She also recently completed choreography with musician Saul Williams and director Bill T. Jones for New York Live Arts (The Motherboard Suite) and for her own company with the Delaware Art Museum. 

During the pandemic, Bauman premiered Desire: A Sankofa Dream through co-presentation by BAAD! and 651 ARTS, two partner organizations aligned with the values of MBDance and with the pieces themes of Black queer agency and desire. Shapeshifting throughout the pandemic, Desire: A Sankofa Dream had begun as an in-person experience then transitioned to a live online experience. The online shows were extremely well-attended and witness-participants raved about the intimacy, beauty and community that Bauman and MBDancers created even in in virtual space. In September 2019 MBDance premiered (re)Source for four sold-out nights via co-commission between The Chocolate Factory and BAAD!. 

Maria Bauman is honored to be recognized nationally as an excellent artist. She’s been recognized with two Bessie Awards, one for her work with The Skeleton Architecture (2017) and another for her choreography as part of The Motherboard Suite directed by Saul Williams and Bill T. Jones (2021). She’s proud to be a recent alum of the Ailey New Directions Choreographic Lab and she is a current fellow with the Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center (2021-23) as well as being a Drexel University Rankin Artist Scholar. She received two Maggie Allessee National Choreographic Center awards/residencies in 2022 and early 2023 because she is developing a large performance and installation centered on myriad forms of Black wealth. She is a Dance NYC Dance Advancement Fund grantee. In 2021 Bauman and MBDance were honored with a Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant, the Jerome Foundation Alternate Fellow honor/funding, a two-week Field Center Residency Award, a Redtail Arts Award and a Petronio Residency Center invitation and funding. MBDance has also earned a 2019 Gibney Dance in Process Residency and Award, 2017-18 Brooklyn Arts Exchange Artist in Residence, CUNY Dance Initiative Residency Awards in both 2014 and 2015, Harlem Stage Funds for New Work via The Jerome Foundation in both 2013-14 and 2009-10, a 2010-11 Dance Theater Workshop (now NYLA) Studio Series and Art Mill creative residencies in 2012 and in 2010. 

Bauman and her MBDance held their first QTPOC Sankofa Dreaming festival in the summer of 2022. It was a weekend festival of workshops and performance centering Black queer art for a multi-generational cohort of 12 queer and/or transgender Brooklynites of color, based on themes from MBDance’s Desire: A Sankofa Dream. In what will now be an annual community engagement, QTPOC in Brooklyn built community with each other, got a sense of their own power through performance practice workshops, and were centered in performance and in curricula that lifts up the histories of queer makers of color.