Priestess of Twerk: A Black Femme Star Temple + Wisdom School


Nia Witherspoon’s new work, Priestess of Twerk: A Black Femme Star Temple + Wisdom School is a ritual-opera and a temple that merges African traditional religious approaches to healing and Black feminist theologies to both envision and enact a more evolved world through embodied experiences. By centering all radical forms of Black femme agency across time, including dreamwork, coming to voice, creative expression, sacred sexuality, and gender affirmation, Priestess of Twerk takes witness-participants on a journey populated with glorious music, spell-casting choreography, and their own personally tailored guidance throughout the piece, teaching the inter-relationship between Black Femme health and the health of our planet.

Priestess of Twerk is a ritual re-telling of ancient Egyptian goddess Isis’ journey to the underworld, told through the lens of contemporary Black feminist text, The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara, and narrated by The Mothermind, the collective consciousness. 

Commissioned, developed, and produced by HERE Artist Residency Program.

Priestess of Twerk can be experienced in two ways: 

After a unique divination experience during their ticket purchase, audiences on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays will be guided into a functional temple to participate in a 4-hour long ritual opera event that places them in one of the temple’s seven chambers. Here, they will take part in intimate experiences with the priestesses of the temple that include twerk meditations, radical runway processions, sonic journeying, sacred partying, and an array of cleansing, grieving, and praying rituals. The temple’s seven chambers are: Death, Birth, Erotica/Warrior, Inner Child, Voice/Naming, Dream, and Love. All of these elements are woven into the larger ritual-opera that journeys along with Isis, her twin sister Neb-Het, Queen of the Underworld, and The Mothermind.  Buy Tickets

Audiences on Wednesdays and Thursdays will experience a two-hour Song Circle of Priestess of Twerk that highlights music from the ritual-opera inside participatory communal ceremony. Song Circles call us to use our voices in community as a way to heal, to ask and answer questions, and to remember our gifts and collective power.  They also allow us to step into joy, embodiment, praise, and a little twerk!

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Affinity performances for Black Folks will take place on May 18, June 1, and June 8.

Affinity performances for BIPOC audiences will take place on May 26 and June 7.

Priestess of Twerk: A Black Femme Star Temple + Wisdom School is created by Nia O. Witherspoon, a 2023-2024 Tow Foundation Playwright in Residence. It is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature along with support from The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre by the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in association with The New York Foundation for the Arts. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City

Council. Commissioning and development support provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Priestess of Twerk is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Links Hall Incorporated, Brava for Women in the Arts, Home for Contemporary Theatre and Art Ltd., Oregon Shakespeare Festival Association, Phoenix Hostel & Cultural Center, and NPN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information, visit npnweb.org. Priestess of Twerk was developed, in part, through IRT’s Archive Collective in partnership with HERE’s HARP Residency Program (irttheater.org).

This project is also supported by HERE’s Fund for Women Artists, which was generously established by Jennifer Suh Whitfield and Benjamin Whitfield. They are joined by Abigail Gampel, Helen Mills, Alan Ostroff, Amy Segal, Christie Snider, and Tommy Young.

Priestess of Twerk will be presented at
85 South Oxford Street
Fort Greene, Brooklyn 11217

For tickets to the two-hour Song Circle of Priestess of Twerk on Wednesdays and Thursdays, click here

For the four-hour ritual-opera, see below for divination information and to buy your tickets.

Your Priestess of Twerk experience begins with the purchasing of your ticket. When you click the button below, you will be sent to another website where you will select the date you’d like to attend. This site uses a divination process to sort you into Chambers that will impact your arrival time as well as your journey in the Temple.

If you are purchasing multiple tickets for one evening, you will be placed in the same group as the rest of your party. If you don’t see a date you prefer, please try another date or adjust the amount of tickets you are purchasing. While multiple tickets can be purchased per order, we highly encourage you to purchase your own ticket for the full divination experience.

After your Chamber has been selected, you will be sent to another page to purchase your ticket.

For the best experience, please use a computer, as this process is designed for you to be at home and on a computer, not mobile device, and will take at least 5 minutes to complete. If you have any technical challenges during this process, please contact tickets@here.org.

Tickets are offered on a sliding scale. Your price selection will not impact your experience.

This event will be a phone-free experience. Use of phones, smart watches, and accessories will not be permitted in the performance space. Upon arrival at the venue, all phones, smart watches, and accessories will be secured in individual Yondr pouches that will be opened at the end of the event. Anyone seen using a device during the performance will be escorted out of the venue by security. We appreciate your cooperation in creating a phone-free viewing experience


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Nia O. Witherspoon