Director Biography – Ariyan Johnson (TRIGGERED)

Ariyan Johnson, a native New Yorker, is a graduate from La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where she studied dance, she holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology and an M.A. in Applied Theatre. Ariyan creates strong female perspectives within the African Diaspora culture specializing in theatrical methods and Hip Hop, Jazz, Afro-Fusion Modern, and African dance forms. She is a multi-disciplinary artist, known for her Independent Spirit Award best female lead nominated performance in the Sundance Special Jury Prize Awarded film – Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., where she represented Hip Hop female dance duos. Some other credits include Law and Order; J.A.G.; The General’s Daughter with John Travolta; Bulworth with Warren Beatty and Halle Berry, where she depicted a rapper influencing Hip Hop culture on the political landscape; and a series regular on The Steve Harvey Show. Johnson’s voice-over work includes cartoons, radio, and television campaigns.

Ms. Johnson’s early work contributed to the beginning of the commercialization of Hip Hop dance, having worked with pioneers of the field. As a professional dancer, she has either danced, choreographed, and toured worldwide for an array of artists such as L.L. Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Ms. Melodie, Prince Markie Dee from The Fat Boys, Ya Kid K, 2 in a Room, Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey, and many more; having gone to such places as the Philippines, Japan, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand to name a few. She was a featured member of Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and Ronn Pratt’s Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Companies and began her community work exploring jazz-based dances of protest with Eleo Pomare’s Dancemobile. Her community work continued throughout her ten years as Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of Faithful Dance Company (F.D.C.). Among the many things she accomplished during her tenure at F.D.C., Ariyan also taught dance to deaf participants, organized social justice initiatives, and created interactive performances at Faithful Central Bible Church, housed at the 18,000 seated arena – The Great Western Forum. Through her own company, D.I.M.A.B.A. founded in 1991; she is a community partner with Los Angeles United School District, where she artistically engages high school students in educational activism. As an educator, she taught drama conventions and Hip Hop dance to genocide survivors at the University of Rwanda (formerly Kigali Institute of Education in Rwanda, Africa); having also taught at Pasadena City College, Studio School (formerly Relativity Education), UCLA EXT, Kansas University, and N.J.P.A.C. (New Jersey Performing Arts Center).

Ariyan, a three-time recipient of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence grant, enjoys inspiring communities through artistic expressions through her intergenerational theatrical work with storytelling. Currently, Ms. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Dance at University of California, Irvine.

Director Statement

As a multidisciplinary artist, I wanted to explore the abstract housed in the familiar through dance. In my first short film, Triggered, I wanted to play with the idea of a “silent film” that is loaded with visual meaning relevant for today’s world.

Short Film: TRIGGERED, 13min., USA, Experimental

Cell phones. Social media. Our lifelines to the outside world. Daily we’re barraged with images, words and video that trigger our emotions. But what happens when it’s one post too many and the emotional dam breaks? TRIGGERED takes us on a visual rollercoaster of music and movement, processing the emotional impact of social media from the inside out.

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Director Biography – Kiah Clingman (EAVESDROPPING ON THE ELDERS)

Kiah Alexandria Clingman is a passionate content creator who merges her corporate skills with her creative talents. Her biggest accomplishment to date is producing a webseries, Outlandish, that has over 400,000 views on YouTube and was considered by Issa Rae Productions for Season 2 distribution/production. She is a 2020 Southern Producers Lab Fellow.

Director Statement

I’m almost in tears as I write this letter. I can’t believe it’s taken me almost 2 years to be brave enough to complete my first script. I’m okay with this process because this has been a journey and I am now in the perfect headspace and place in my life to execute what I started.

I’ve dealt with the hardest thing I’ve ever been through the past 5 years. My dad is dying of ALS and although I’ve tried more ways than one to escape the reality, I’ve realized the truth despite. My daddy, my best friend, is leaving me and I want to be able to say goodbye. I want to be able to give him a fraction of the love he’s given me these last 25 years. The best way I knew how to continue his legacy was by adapting an excerpt from his book into a short film entitled: Eavesdropping on the Elders.

This film is about a girl who is unknowingly challenged with the task of bridging the gap between two generations. With help from her father, she enters another world that confronts her with cultural lessons from the past.

If you research my dad on Google, you’ll see many websites say he is “the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people.” He has written 10 books (my favorite is Fathers and Daughters). He’s started multiple entrepreneurship high schools around the country and has helped thousands of minorities acquire work on contracts that would never have considered a “diversity” hire. As a firm believer in helping others and using his blessings to bless others, he has led a life of advocacy, initiative, and unwavering commitment to his belief in collective rather individual achievement and progress.

My dad continues his mission even though he is unable to walk, write, or move without heavy assistance. He still lives for his purpose: to empower others despite his weakness. His strengths and experiences have fueled my passion and have had an impact not only on my mom and me, but society as a whole.

But even with all of these accomplishments, to me, he is just my daddy. He’s the man who I couldn’t wait to jump into his arms after a long road trip. He’s the man who would continually bring my violin to school every time I forgot it. Not once did he miss a recital, a performance, a play, or a pageant. He’s always seen the best in me and he’s been there for me in my dark room when I was feeling alone and inadequate. He’s been the only person I know to really see me.

This film is not only for him, but it is for our people. I made it to inspire black people. To let us know we are on the right track and that our elders and our ancestors are here to guide us and lift us up They are here to teach us and to protect us. All we have to do is listen to their teachings and follow their lead.

-Kiah Alexandria Clingman

Short Film: EAVESDROPPING ON THE ELDERS, 18min., USA, Drama

A girl is unknowingly challenged with the task of bridging the gap between 2 generations. With a little help from her father, she’s forced into another world where she’s confronted with lessons from the past.

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News & Reviews

Director Biography – Botis Seva (CANT KILL US ALL)

Botis Seva is a dance artist, choreographer and director working within the realms of contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip hop. Botis Seva is entrenched in hip hop dance theatre but experiments with form, structure and theatrics to reinvent choreography. Borrowing techniques from film, text, art and other dance languages, Botis’ focus is on making a difference and using his autobiographical experiences to drive narratives.

Short Film: CANT KILL US ALL, 8min., UK, Drama

Unravelling one man’s mental unrest as he navigates the turbulence of dealing with two global pandemics.

A theatrical experience combining Hip hop theatre and film from dance experimentalist Botis Seva, CAN’T KILL US ALL reveals the deterioration of one man’s emotional sanity and physical stability as he confronts life in lockdown. From reflecting on childhood memories to reliving Black trauma, CAN’T KILL US ALL pushes through the darkness to find light, humility and peace.

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