A Black, POC and LGBTQ+ celebratory space and an open invitation for participation, learning and conversation with all.

Come as you are. See us as we are. Imagine and act on what can be.

To interrogate this unique historical moment, the BlackLight Summit seeks to be a spark that ignites daring innovation and reveals the creativity within the dance ecosystem in America. Our inaugural BlackLight Summit is a year-long dance initiative that investigates how time, people, possibility and hope can come together to examine legacy, citizenship and scholarship. The summit asks, through the practice of being socially responsible within the arts: How do we create traditions? How do we transform them into enduring legacies?

The peak of the BlackLight Summit is a virtual three-day convening that features roundtable conversations, movement labs and artistic presentations from BlackLight featured artists Micaela Taylor, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, Candace Scarborough and Jamal Abrams. Our initiative aims to re-envision how dance can be a conduit to galvanize imagination, resilience, and inventiveness.


This summit is a convening that re-envisions dance performance as a conduit to galvanize the social imaginations, resilience and inventiveness of citizens, thinkers, activists and artists. This multi-day gathering uses the medium of dance/choreography as a catalyst to:

  • Create a platform to amplify, inspire and affirm the narratives/experiences of marginalized groups; specifically BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities
  • Aspiring to facilitate an equitable presentation series for emerging millennial artists of color; specifically black artists
  • Developing fertile educational experiences through immersive exposure and multifaceted access
  • Facilitating courageous spaces that are invested in fostering dialogues with/for audiences and community members of The Clarice


Before we begin, we invite you to take a moment to reflect on and acknowledge the Indigenous roots of the land that you’re on.

Every community owes its existence and vitality to generations from around the world who contributed their hopes, dreams and energy to making the history that led to this moment. Some were brought here against their will, some were drawn to leave their distant homes in hope of a better life and some have lived on this land for more generations than can be counted. Truth and acknowledgment are critical to building mutual respect and connection across all barriers of heritage and difference.

The land that the University of Maryland and The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center reside on today is home to the Piscataway People, who were among the first in the Western Hemisphere to encounter European colonists. We pay respects to their elders past and present. Please take a moment to consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, migration and settlement that bring us together here today.

We encourage you to use a resource like Native-land.ca to learn more about the Indigenous roots of the land you are on right now.




#BlackLightSummit #KeeptheLightOnBLS #TheClarice #SaveOurStages #KeepCreatingUMD





5:30PM EST - Arts Citizenship Talk (ACTnow)

Challenge and Change: Revelations of Black Women in the Arts

Featuring Micaela Taylor, Candace Scarborough, Shanice Mason & Kahina Haynes.

Moderated by Ronya-Lee Anderson.


Times listed are in Eastern Standard Time.


Times listed are in Eastern Standard Time.


Times listed are in Eastern Standard Time.


Featured Artists

Micaela Taylor

Micaela Taylor is a professional dancer, choreographer and artistic director of the TL Collective. She is the recipient of the Inaugural Springboard EMERGE Choreographic Award and recently named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch,” 2019 and Dance Magazine cover May 2020. She is trailblazing in the city of Los Angeles and beyond. Alongside the launch of the TL Collective, Micaela has been commissioned to choreograph and teach by BODYTRAFFIC, Springboard Danse Montreal, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, B12 Festival Berlin and more. Her work has been presented at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Broad Stage, Ford Amphitheatre, The Barclay Center, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston and more.

Johnnie Cruise Mercer

Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a maker, freelance-performer, educator and artistic entrepreneur based in New York City. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Dance and Choreography, he has had the privilege of performing for, and collaborating with Antonio Brown, Monstah Black, Andre Zachery, Yon Tande, Ishmael Houston-Jones (2018 remount of THEM), Netta Yerushalmy, Maria Bauman/MBDance, Edisa Weeks/Delirious Dances and Antonio Ramos, and was a part of Ishmael Houston-Jones’ and Miguel Gutierrez’ Bessie Award-winning reconstruction/reimaging Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd.

Candace Scarborough

Candace Scarborough '12 is a performer, choreographer and certified Gaga teacher based in Baltimore, MD. She received a B.A. in Dance from the University of Maryland, where she was a recipient of the Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship. She has performed with AndaryDance, Graham Brown, Denise Leitner, Helen Simoneau Danse, maree remalia-merrygogo and Ashley Thorndike-Youssef. Candace is currently dancing for PearsonWidrig DanceTheater, Kendra Portier, and Britta Peterson. In 2016, Candace was invited by Ohad Naharin to join the Gaga Teacher Training Program in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Jamal Abrams

Jamal Abrams was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. He later earned his BFA in dance from The University of the Arts. He has worked with Tariq Darell + The Unum Dance Collective, haus of bambi, as well as Sleep No More NYC. As a choreographer, he received the 2018 New Releases Commission at Dance Place. As an educator, he has had the opportunity to teach at the Baltimore County Public School Choreography Showcase, as well as Dance Fest in Shanghai. Within youth development, he has also had the opportunity to serve as the Junior Staff Manager at LUMBERYARD.

BlackLight Summit Curator & Producer

Tariq Darrell O'Meally

In his position as a Visiting Artist Series Program Guest Curator, Tariq Darrell O'Meally serves as a steward of the Visiting Artist Series artistic vision and helps shape the strategic program in collaboration with curatorial colleagues, staff, faculty, and students. As a curator, he contributes to the development and implementation of the Visiting Artist Series. With a focus on dance, O'Meally identifies, develops, and programs artistic residencies that enhance the teaching and learning of performing arts schools as well as across disciplines at UMD.

In addition to his duties as a curator for The Clarice, Tariq is a working artist in the DMV. Currently, his work focuses on being a contemporary dance artist striving to transition into a post-contemporary context. That is to say that if contemporary work interacts with the fierce urgency of now; then post-contemporary exploration integrates what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen, intersecting these concepts with the vulnerability and necessity of being human.

As a choreographer, O'Meally has presented his work at the John F. Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, By The People Festival, The Clarice Smith 34th & 35th Annual Choreographer's Showcase, Mid-Atlantic North Gala at the American College Dance Association and Richmond Dance Festival. He is a 2020-2022 Artist-In-Residence at Dance Place.

He is the Artistic Director of Tariq Darrell+the UNUM Dance Collective, a DMV based collection of dance artists seeking to create doorways and windows leading to the seen and unseen; lived and living experiences of African Americans.

As an educator, O'Meally teaches at the CityDance School & Conservatory Dance Institute of Washington in addition to presenting as a guest lecturer at Hollins University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, the National Gallery of Art, The Hirshhorn Museum, and the French Embassy. ​​​​​​O'Meally is the Founder/Director of the Dimensions Contemporary Dance Festival, which is a platform to promote, amplify, and spread the various eclectic voices of DMV contemporary dance artists of color.

O’Meally has been chosen as a 2019 Art Omi Resident Artist, as well as a 2018-2019 Halcyon Arts Lab Fellow. He also was a 2018-19 Joe’s Movement Emporium NextLOOK Artist and Dance Place’s 2017-18 New Releases Commissioned Artist. He currently holds a BFA in Dance & Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Artistic Partners

Ronya-Lee Anderson • University of Maryland, Doctoral Candidate – School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Phil Davis • Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Prince George’s County Countywide Arts Coordinator Arts & Cultural Heritage Division

Elizabeth Johnoson • Dance Exchange , Associate Artistic Director & Director of Partnerships

Becky Maybee-Ferrell • Dance/USA, Director of Programs

Gabriel Mata-Ortega • University of Maryland, Master of Fine Arts Candidate – School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Charlie Maybee • Shenandoah University, Adjunct Assistant Professor

Alvin Mayes • University of Maryland, Head of Dance Performance and Scholarship – School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Christopher K. Morgan • Dance Place, Executive Artistic Director

Vinny Mwano • Filmmaker, Digital Marketer, Photographer & Educator

Sarah Beth Oppenhiem • University of Maryland Alumni & Choreographer

Megan Pagado Wells • The Clarice, Associate Director of Programming

Darlene Watkins • Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Arts & Cultural Heritage Division Chief

Aisha White • Freelance Consultant

Patrik Widrig • University of Maryland, Professor of Dance Performance and Scholarship – School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

BlackLight Summit Operations Team

Erica Bondarev Rapach, Acting Executive Director – The Clarice

Tariq Darrell O'Meally, Summit Producer & Curator

Jane Hirshberg, Assistant Director for Campus & Community Engagement

Kristen Olsen, Senior Guest Experience Coordinator

Carlos Howard, Marketing Communications Coordinator

Kat Rother, Production Coordinator

Created By
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center