Year 2 – Meet the Lakou NOU 2017 Artists:

Lakou NOU 2017 artists were provided with a stipend of $3,750 for the development, implementation, documentation, and evaluation of projects; access to a network of other artists, community leaders, and local organizations; a platform to showcase their work to varied audiences; and the opportunity to develop leadership skills while becoming more acquainted with social issues affecting Brooklyn communities.

Diane Exavier 2

Diane Exavier (East Flatbush) used her Lakou NOU residency to develop her original play Good Blood. With “Each Body is a Miracle,” Exavier delved deeper into some of the play’s issues and themes of immigration, partnership/intimacy, and health through social practice. She segmented her project into three parts: 1) field notes, where she asks, what health issues are most affecting the lives and bodies of Haitian community members in East Flatbush today? 2) community crafting, where she facilitated a floral crown making workshop, related to the Haitian traditional practice of plasaj, where participants of any age can attend and through a brief meditative   exercise, decide the conditions under which they want to live, and 3) reportage, an exercise in active dramaturgy, combining research and documentation with live performance. She aimed to compile her field notes into a brief report on pertinent health issues facing Haitian residents in East Flatbush and create a photobook sharing portraits from the Community Crafting event. Both will be available to view and peruse at a final reading of Good Blood, the play that serves as inspiration to this entire residency.

Diane Exavier creates performance events, public programs, and games that challenge viewers to participate in the active realization of a theater that rejects passive reception. She is also an arts educator with a pedagogy that focuses on creating reflective spaces for young people. Her work has been presented at Westmont College, California State University: Northridge, New Urban Arts (Providence), West Chicago City Museum, and in New York: Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, Independent Curators International, Medialia Gallery, and more. Her most recent play Good Blood was workshopped in residency with the Flea Theater. Her writing appears in Cunjuh Magazine, Daughter Literary Magazine, The Atlas Review, and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind.

Read about Diane’s culminating event click here.


Glenda Lezeau (Canarsie) Canarsie’s Konpa Celebration was designed to celebrate the beautiful sounds of Konpa and Haitian Culture in a community that is historically Haitian and that lacks convening spaces so integral to building and sustaining communities. With a community dance fitness session, Konpa dance showcase, and special musical performance by the artist herself, Glenda Lezeau builds a celebration that uplifts Haitian music and dance while allowing people to come together as one. The event will feature Konpa music all throughout, catering by Fleurimond Catering, and special giveaways!

Glenda Lezeau is a lover of all things Konpa from the keyboard solos to the dance moves. She is a piano player determined to shed a different light on Haiti by sharing the sounds of Haitian music along with its beautiful culture. Her passion for music strengthens and intensifies as she advances a movement of positive, inspirational music that is powerful enough to impact others. With over 20 years of training as a pianist and violist, Glenda has performed at many high profile venues, including Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, The Plaza Hotel and New York’s City Hall. She holds a diploma in Instrumental Music from Fiorella H. Laguardia High School of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Connecticut.

Read about Glenda’s culminating event click here.

Jasmine Plantin (Flatbush), a textile and fashion artist, in #PWOTEKSYON, explored culture as mode of protection for the Haitian Diaspora in Flatbush through a two part evening, beginning with a panel discussion between Caribbean creatives highlighting how their heritage influences their work and introducing students to different artistic fields. The evening ended with an exhibition of narrative wearable art that she has developed in partnership with Haitian artisans highlighting the different periods of Haitian history.

Jasmine Plantin was born and raised in New York and has been surrounded by art and design since she was a child. She attended Parsons the New School for Design and Central Saint Martins for her undergraduate degree, where she was nominated for “Designer of the Year” and graduated with a BFA in Apparel Design in 2013. While pursuing her degree she apprenticed with design studios Proenza Schouler, Altuzarra and Phillip Lim until she graduated and began designing menswear for Greenpoint based company Outlier. Her work in textiles and fashion has appeared in international publications, such as Teen Vogue and Oyster Magazine, and has been displayed in Saks Fifth Avenue and at exhibitions in Paris, France.

Read about Jasmine’s culminating event click here.

Nubian Nene (Nadine Sylvestre) (Crown Heights) believes that basic human services are things a town should provide its residents. A Crown Heights resident, Nubian Nene has observed the way residents contribute to street pollution. In “Crown Heights Creatives,” Nubian Nene documented the personal perspective of residents on the matter, assessed the community needs, raised awareness about the presence of local street farms, gardens and the availability of healthy foods in our grocery stores, and engaged the creatives of Crown Heights to share their skill set, expertise and teachings to mobilize the community. She pulled from her Haitian heritage by creating a video series of her dancing in community gardens, connecting the dots between Crown Heights, its residents, and herself – a Haitian-Canadian woman living in Brooklyn. Nubian Nene portrayed Kouzen Zaka, the agriculture/harvest/hard worker lwa further enforcing the idea of community action.

Nubian Nene is known mostly for her Waacking and House dance styles. Her ultimate goal is to constantly inspire through actions, words and dance.  She has performed at Fringe Festivals with KINEMATIK Dance Theater and at the Cultch Theater in Vancouver with ‘Bboyizm’ Dance Company. She has also been featured in music videos for Jose James and Michelle Williams alongside the likes of Beyonce and Kelly Rowland. She has taught at the Unity Festival in Toronto, the Ladies of Hip Hop Festival in Vienna and NYC, the Illadelph and Funky Fundamentals Festivals in Philadelphia, and at the International Waacking Festival in Los Angeles.

Read about Nene’s culminating event click here.

Lakou NOU 2017 Advisory Committee: Sabine Blaizin, Alicia Boone, Sherley Davilmar, Okai Fleurimont, Veroneque Ignace, Kassandra Khalil, Wynnie Lamour, Régine M. Roumain

Year 1 – Meet the Lakou NOU 2016 Artists:

2016 was the inaugural year for the Lakou NOU Program. The first four artists to participate in this program are true community activists, and received a $2,500 stipend to build community-based arts projects in the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie. Their projects delt with urbanism, place-making, community-building, public health, and empowerment at a time in US history when the Afro-Caribbean people of Brooklyn needed it most.

20160926-sabine-blaizin-crown-heights-jute Sabine Blaizin, a New York based DJ who spins Afro-Soul, combines sounds of the African and Afro-Caribbean diaspora. In her project based in Crown Heights, Blaizin created a soundscape with stories she collected from Haitian members in the community affected by gentrification. To collect those stories, Blaizin was very proactive in connecting with Crown Heights community leaders and attending neighborhood meetings relevant to her subject. On October 26th, she held holding interviews at the HCX office in Crown Heights with volunteer residents. Their stories were recorded by StoryCorps and archived in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Blaizin has performed with DJs in various cities in the US, Canada, Dakar, Mexico, Cuba and Haiti. In answering how it feels like to travel to different countries and come back to the US with new material, she explains that she reaches a different level of connection with her crowd. Listening to her music mixing conversations, deep reflections and words of wisdom, one can already imagine how inspiring and challenging it was for Blaizin to piece together sounds of grief, displacement, nostalgia and disappointment in Crown Heights. The feelings that are attached with the “Haitian flight” in Crown Heights can be assimilated to all the forced migrations people of black heritage experience. Gentrification is an ongoing occurrence in Crown Heights. It is bittersweet to foresee that the residents’ experience is ready to be archived for the memory of future generations. Blaizin’s project also brought an opportunity for those residents to reflect on their situation with an approach that might have revealed new depths in their understanding of what gentrification means in their lives. Read her event recap here.

Ignace is a dancer and public-health professional who wants to heal through the power of dance. This has been an important goal for her since working on her thesis at Williams College. In a powerful video introduction of her thesis, she explains that the experience of Black students studying in predominantly white institutions can be traumatic and should be taken into account in their academic performance. The result is a dissertation and choreography in which her dancers interact with the audience and make them face this issue with movement.

How does her experience as a dancer and academician at Williams differ from her role as a healer in East Flatbush? “In East Flatbush my work is not a show” she responds. In East Flatbush, Ignace created a platform and outlet for the youth to deal with emotions that are not always addressed. It was an opportunity for her to truly practice skills of dance therapy and respond to the youth’s reaction to violence in their neighborhood. “Some of them are afraid to leave their house” Ignace explained in an HCX Ann Pale.

The title to Veroneque’s project was “#Trending” and through it she encouraged the young Haitian-Americans and youth of East Flatbush to express their feelings about the trending deaths in the Black community – Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, more recently Keith Scott… unfortunately, the list goes on. How not to feel overwhelmed? Dealing with the growing numbers is a challenge that Ignace was willing to tackle as the youth of East Flatbush grapple with the violence they witness in their community. Read the event recap here.
Rodney ‘Okai’ Fleurimont,
is a percussionist and MC who is interested in the importance and benefit of a healthy diet in a musician’s life. In recent experiences traveling with his music band, he realized that, beyond the fatigue of traveling through different time-zones, the meals his colleagues consumed had a direct correlation with their performances. Okai has previously taught at PS 189 in Brownsville, Brooklyn as a Ti Atis teacher via HCX and his experiences leading workshops and various other initiatives, made him realize that there is a pressing need for the youth in the Black community to think about their diet. Issues of diabetes and obesity are prominent within the youth of the black community.

With his project in Canarsie, Okai partnered with various drummers, masters of Afro-Caribbean and West-African techniques, to teach students how to play the drums. Each session began with a class on exercise and diet. Okai’s goal is to inspire the Haitian-American youth to keep their passion for music alive by understanding that they need the physical strength to carry their musical instruments around and also to play for hours without collapsing. There were many other benefits in participating in Okai’s workshops. Discipline and team-work are the qualities he has seen his students acquire as they learn how to play the drums. They understand that it takes great team-work and perfect coordination to carry out a nice melody. Read the event recap here.

Gentrification in Flatbush

Sherley Davilmar, working in the community of Flatbush , hosted a three part series of workshops that  all took place at the Brooklyn Public Library on Linden Boulevard. The themes covered included “Health Beauty and Wellness”, “Gentrification” and “Black Bodies” and sought to raise awareness of social issues faced in the black community including gentrification, wellness and the assault on black bodies as it manifests in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Charged with great information, Davilmar curated these workshops in efforts to answer the question “How Desensitized Are We?”

Part One: Part one of the series dealt with beauty, health and wellness in an interactive workshop that included a zumba, yoga and Haitian dance session as well as a panel discussion and hair styling demonstration. Children and adults alike learned to make their own hair and skin care products from natural sources they can find in their own cupboard.

Part Two: The following week Sherley invited a group of panelists who are activists and organizers in the Flatbush community to speak on gentrification in the neighborhood. The panelists included Imani of Equality4Flatbush, Mark Griffith, Executive Director of Brooklyn Movement Center, David Etiennne, an upcoming filmmaker, and Alicia Boyd, leader of Movement To Protect The People.

Part Three: The closing event of Davilmar’s residency was profoundly poetic.  It was an essential anecdote after the previous workshop. The introductory presentation dove right in to the subject with a reading of “Strange Fruit” a poem written by Abel Meeropol and was famously sung by Billie Holiday in 1939. The event proceeded with a powerful workshop by Veroneque Ignace, founder of Kriyol Dance! Collective, where she directed participants through a series of movements both individually and in partnerships in order to guide participants to tune in to the body and to use it to express one’s pain and joy.

The panel discussion that followed included Menesky Magloire, Sakena Sampson of Girls Empowerment Circle Inc., Veroneque Ignace of Kriyol Dance! and Resist. Restore. Inc., and moderated by Anthonine Pierre of the Brooklyn Movement Center. Read the event recap here.

Lakou NOU 2016 Advisory Committee: Winnie Lamour, Romola Lucas, Vania Andre, Daphne Leroy, Felicity Hogan, Alicia Boone, Stephanie Cunningham, Patricia Lespinasse, Carolle Charles, Farrah Louis, Petrushka Bazin, Régine M. Roumain.

To learn about the past Lakou NOU projects, visit our Archives.
Lakou NOU Funders 2018

About Our Programs

We seek to enrich the cultural landscape of New York City by developing, presenting and promoting a wide array of quality visual and performing arts, as well as educational and public affairs programs including:

  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Literary Arts
  • Youth Development
  • Artist Development
  • Public Forums
  • Community Building
  • Resources & Referrals
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