Observer: DAVI | Perfomance Artist
Photography by Jerome Shaw
What’s your AMMO?
My AMMO is my recent meeting with Taimak from The Last Dragon. I met Taimak in Central Park, we took a pic and then dance-battled for a minute. I looked up to him so much when I was younger – a brown young brotha growing in his skills, leading to him manifesting a supernatural power. That was who I knew I would be…haha!
You’ve worked on choreography for music videos and film, how was the experience?
Working on choreography for music videos and film is both a fun and a challenging experience because your assisting the director or artist with the manifesting their vision for the project. When working with Khalil Joseph on Cubic Zirconia’s “Black and Blue,” I was shaping choreography of some spirit being that manifested itself through trance-like movement; with prompt I studied trance in different cultures to then release a brand new interpretation of trance that spoke to the anger within Cubic Zirconia’s lyrics. So the director’s overall concept is like a large rock that’s then chiseled by my interpretations to achieve the moving sculpture that is the choreography.
When working on major productions, what is the creative process like? Where do you pull moves from, Is it an organic process?
Well I’ll use my choreography in Peeples (Lionsgate) to discuss this. Like I said before, you’re helping to manifest, release and empower the director’s vision for the work. The scene that I did with Kerry Washington was conceptually harkening a group like The Supremes or the Marvelettes so I studied The Supremes and thought of the movement stylings Motown choreographer, Cholly Atkins might offer to the song used for the scene, while allowing the Motown styling to intersect with my own movement instincts to keep the movement unique. Same with the scene I did with Craig Robinson; we watched Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” music video to get a sense of a man’s emulation of a woman in the 70’s. I studied Craig’s natural movement as well to combine it with the vision for the scene to allow Craig to feel as free as possible while filming the choreography.
You created a dance style called, Akhí. How did the creation of this happen?
Akhí is a dance form infused by others including modern, krump, jazz, West Afrikan and hip hop but based on three core principles of understanding:
= Movement is based on the already present frequency and soundings of the mind and body
= Movement illustrates the mind’s responses of imagery to the sounds/music it encounters
= Movement is founded in undercurrents of rhythms; the dancer is like a percussionist
I created akhí by simply noticing what I was up to when I was moving. I synthesized some patterns I noticed into the three core principles.
I named the dance form because it allowed me freedom in my movement from linguistic constrictions of what I was “supposed to look like” when dancing. My hope is that more choreographers, and artists in general, name the form/style/category of their work so that we may more easily move into new titles of what we’re up to artistically right now.
The creation of music and dance directly relate, as you know having also DJ’d and performed vocally. What style of music most motivates you?
There isn’t one style that most motivates me because it really depends on what matches my frequency moment to moment.
Being an artist, choreographer, DJ, vocalist requires some juggling. What are some philosophies that you can share that have kept you focused and on track with your vision?
I’ve never separated all that I do in my mind, I just think of it as what-I-do. There are probably about 20 other titles I could have – concept artist, graphic designer, director, co-manager, musical director, co-producer, etc. When I’m in line with my vision the titles of what I do don’t really matter to me; I just feel in the flow to manifest the vision. So that would be my philosophy to share, be sure to feel good in the flow of your vision and you’ll never have to worry about exactly what you’re doing.
What inspired you to pursue art, what is one of your youngest and most vivid memories of a growing relationship with art?
Nothing in particular inspired me to pursue art, I always knew that was where my passion was. The type of artist I wanted to be was definitely shaped by my seeing The Wiz on Broadway with Stephanie Mills. I saw the Wiz, his magic, his surprise, his freedom, his self-created cool, his command and I knew that was what I wanted to do. In the following months, I began performing The Wiz’s songs for my babysitter, flying down the stairs with my mother’s green comforter and hitting moves on the stairs and the couch. I never did the same show for my babysitter twice so I knew that I didn’t want to do the same thing more than once; I wanted artistic choice, so I knew musicals weren’t my path but listening and watching my mother’s recordings of Earth, Wind & Fire showed me my musical artist path.
Who are some of your icons?
George Clinton, Harry Belafonte, Erykah Badu, Paul Robeson, MIA, Maurice White, Chaka Khan, Grace Jones, Storm (X Men/Marvel), Taimak (The Last Dragon), Black Panther (Marvel), Quincy Jones, Octavia Butler, Fever Ray, Lauryn Hill, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Prince, Sting, Santigold, Russell Targ, Jacque Fresco, Andre 3000, Sun Ra, Malcolm X.
If you could describe yourself by 1 type of food, 2 colors, and one animal what would you pick?
Food: Raspberries // Colors: Lime Green, Yellow //Animal: Phoenix
What projects are up next for you?
My new Dark R&B/Dub single, Clear is out now with its music video. The song is a collaboration with Turkish beat maker/Radio Adidas DJ (Turkey) FAKEPAKT and producer, Atilla and I’m so amped about it. Later this year I will be releasing a series of EPs, (each with a special surprise!) leading up to my full length LP. My fans have affectionately titled my concerts, The Daví Experience, so the Experience will be touring internationally so stay tuned to bydavi.com for show updates!