Johnnie Cruise Mercer

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’s and Miguel Gutierrez’s Bessie Award-winning reconstruction/reimaging Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd.

An active educator, Mercer teaches in the New York public school system through The Leadership Program, a mentorship-based organization that uses art to engage restorative justice, and self empowerment. Mercer has also been on the teaching faculty at the American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, Pratt Institute, NYU Tisch, Gibney, University of Massachusetts Amherst, DeSales University, Muhlenberg College, and the University of Texas at Austin (in residence as its 2016 Vanguard Choreographer).

As the Choreographic/Company Director of Johnnie Cruise Mercer/TheREDprojectNYC, his processes/works have been shared recently at 92Y Harkness Dance Center, Gibney: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, Dixon Place, Danspace Project Inc, the Fusebox Festival, Mana Contemporary, the NADA Conference, and Abrons Arts Center. Mercer is currently in his second year as an Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Follow him (and his company) on Instagram to find out more about his/their current projects and works. @jcm_redprojectnyc

Process Memoirs

Process Memoir 1: plunge in/to 534

Shared: April 22nd 2018 @Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX) 

Plunged into the spirit, the body reacts and finds joy in exhaustion. It clings to the acceptance of weight. Pain becomes the inspiration for continuation. Exhaustion. Sweat. Blood. Your (our) fluids become the call to conjure figures that linger in the darkness. The audience, I, we all are transported into an exorcism, a ritual of containment, of freedom, of war between realism, and deep trance. Our poly-centric origin is given permission to possess us- as our people, we are called upon. Something responds. Deep. Inside, it responds. Conceptualized through the lens of Johnnie Cruise Mercer’s black southern queer-baptist roots, plunge in/to 534 initiates a ritualistic ceremony (a practice) that calls/responds to the need for emotional, spiritual and generational release.

Residency Support: 2017 BAX Fall Space Grant, CDI (York College), Silo Dance/NOW, AIRspace Artist Abrons Arts Center, RVA Homecoming hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University

Original Event:


Process Memoir 2: on the action of black&white

Shared: May 11, 2018 @York College Arts Festival (Jamaica Queens, NYC) 

on the action of black&white became a reflective performative practice that spilled from the stage into reality. Inspired by political images, audience expectations, and personal moments of soliloquy, The ensemble tumbles through familiar environments/modes as they comment on, surrender to, and construct a pre-mature world based on dual opinion, influence, artistic demand, proposition, and spiritual instinct.

Residency Support: CDI (York College), Silo Dance/NOW, AIRspace Artist Abrons Arts Center, RestorationArts Choreoquest 2018 AIR



Process memoir 3: to ascend past numbness and witness birth

Shared: NYU Tisch Jack Crystal Theater

The earth holds without complaint. It holds. And as we stand on top of this soil, she holds. Take this. Take me, the weight that I carry. she holds my feet. She holds and then she allows. She infuses and then we are rejuvenated. revived.

I, We, are standing forever in youth. then free.

To the earth I give, from the earth we receive.

Oriented around the communal action of renewal, to ascend past numbness and witness birth is a guided meditation towards relinquish, and a ceremonial cleansing towards ephebism, freedom, and queering otherness.

Residency Support: 2018 NYU Summer Creative & Educational Residency



Process memoir 4: The word, the spirit, and Little Rock.

Shared: Feb 28-March 2nd 2019 @Danspace Project Inc.

A sermon on spiritual freedom, process memoir 4: The word, the spirit, and Little Rock. happened as a three night radical-risk ritual; a meticulously crafted instruction-book in response to the book of Genesis.  Invoking the opposite to confront dominance, the process-performance was a live-deconstruction of America’s most rooted belief system- “in him”.

A Response to A response to Genesis 2:23 (NIV)

See her. God, she appears. From the view of her child- her son.
I am the bone of her bones, the flesh of her flesh- I was taken from her. Man. Made in his
image…his image is not mine.
Truthfully. I feebly seek sanctuary. I run to her. We run to her. In despite of her. Constantly we
run, The dark, she has provided light.

Music direction/re-innovation by Monstah Black, conceptual/choreographic direction by Johnnie Cruise Mercer, and costume curation directed by Trebian Pollard

Residency Support: AIRspace Artist Abron Arts Center, Bates Dance Festival AIR 2018, Silo Dance/NOW, RVA Homecoming supported by Virginia Commonwealth University, 2018-2019 Danspace Commissioning Initiative supported by The Jerom Foundation and The Andrew M Mellon Foundation, Petronio Residency Center with support from NYS Dance Force, and New York University Department of Dance.



Process memoir 5: the indigo kid.

Shared: July 23-24th 2019 @Dixon Place

I am ready.

The time has come for me to begin, to conjure an active solo journey- an origin story inspired by multiple origin stories. Artifacts from the past haunt my subconscious, and the epic-memories that hold my foundation act as the impetus for a play on something greater, a larger movement. This process memoir is idiomatic. It’s a spiritual remembering. It feels like a halfway point for something required. And so, I prepare to be taken. In self-reflection, I prepare to embody my true faith, an epic voice. I embrace my inner indigo child.

Residency Support: Dixon Place AIR 2019, RestorationArts Choreoquest Artist 2018



Process memoir 6: thenowlater (SOUL)

Process memoir 6: thenowlater is a multi-layered ‘movement’ choreography charted as four journeys: (Body – Mind – Soul – Heart). Built as an artifact, an exodus toward black (embodied) freedom, PM6: thenowlater Journey Two treks into the mind, as the body calls on actions of allowance, surrender, and embrace. thenowlater marks itself as the sixth of ten chapters within, A Process Anthology: The Decade from Hell, and the Decade that Followed Suite.

Soon to be charted: Process memoir 6: thenowlater (SOUL) Film Premiere/Watch Party & Fundraiser Launch on January 31st, 5 pm. Event information here.

The film was created, in part, with support from the New Dance Alliance’s Black Artists Space to Create Residency.

Back to Black Artists Space to Create