Can people make a difference in achieving social, political, and economic change in Maine? Embodied Equity is testing that theory in large numbers across the state with an intergenerational audience.
Are you ready to be an EMBODIED EQUITY PLAYER?
Photo Credit: Sarah Barlow
René Goddess is a queer, black, South African, three-time award-winning, Indigenous, femme. An Arts & Community Organizer, Choreographer, Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, Education and Events. A Designer, Director, Embodied Equity Consultant, Innovator, Non-Profit Founder, Performance Artist, Activist, and Producer. She has been navigating assimilation, white terrorism, and a temporary loss of self-pride since arriving in Maine in 1991. Her areas of interest include the intersection of the arts in movements for Social Justice and Racial Equity. As Embodied Equities Lead Designer she works closely with the public, with artists of many genres, with historically underrepresented communities, youth, and nonprofit organizations in and out of Maine. Embodied Equity (EE) develops creative opportunities focused on inter-organizational collaboration, using the arts for systemic change. These moments of coming together and creating activist community art are the common denominator that connects all of her work.
She was born in Johannesburg, South Africa then raised in the suburbs of Portland, Maine starting at age 6. René Goddess has spent the last 30 years fumbling and creating and as a result of a lot of work, she has become an influencer and radical voice in her communities. Founded in 2015, her work with Theater Ensemble of Color, TEoC (TEE-oC), creates another strong unconventional institution committed to Social Justice and Racial Equity as well as historical education. The dedicated, talented, and committed work of TEoC’s team as it evolves over the years is recognized throughout New England for its outstanding original productions (Best Theater Company, Ensemble, 2018 in Portland Maine) and exceptional educational outreach programs and workshops. From the summer of 2013 to winter March of 2020, G E E L, an interactive one-woman show written, and performed by René Goddess was a phenomenal invitation and gave audience members permission to actively participate throughout the show, destroying the illusion of a fourth wall immediately. The action of René Goddess’s tragic but not unique story unfolded through thoughtful storytelling, music, vulnerable moments together with other audiences members, and choreography, as the audience engaged in a new kind of theater experience.
G E E L includes powerful dance and song in multiple languages, including English, and Afrikaans. The content themes range from severe physical and emotional abuse and trauma to self-harm habits and routines, and most importantly many things positive. This brutally honest show has been changing the arts scene in Maine and beyond and is the core inspiration for Embodied Equities White Culture Broker Training. A two-plus year training for white identifying folks who want to dismantle white culture parenting in their bodies, as they create a plan towards reparations, and give their resources directly to under-resourced kin of the global majority here in Maine.
G E E L has been performed at The Celebration Barn Theater, New Fruit, Congress Square Park, Colby College, Bowdoin College, The University of Southern Maine Presque Isle campus, Bright Star World Dance, and other venues in New England. An educator to every grade level from birth through major universities and corporate settings.
A very enthusiastic teacher, who has worked with Mayo Street Arts, the University of Southern Maine Portland campus, Life By Design, Deering High School, The School Around Us, Waynflete, The Waldorf School, and Acorn Productions.
She serves as a member of The Celebration Barn Theater, The Third Place, a Board Member for the Maine Women's Lobby, and a past contributor for Black Girl in Maine Media. Named 1 of Maine's 10 most intriguing people, Portland Monthly Magazine, October 2018.
An assimilated refugee, living in colonized Wabanaki Territory full time, she realized in 2018, her career in the arts since 9 has focused on weaving many intersections into her daily personal life and professional work environments. These connections were not apparent for many years. With time, planning, thoughtfulness, therapy, and patience she was able to see what her intrinsic self (her artist self/creator/Starchild/GOD) had been saying her whole life. To act on her impulses and grow into the next version of her best self over, and over again.
As an Executive and Artistic Director, an Embodied Equity Consultant, and Diversity Casting Director, René Goddess works primarily with historically underrepresented groups of the global majority. Her purpose is to teach the global majority kin, queer kin, and young people, how to fully engage their instinctual creative selves, through fully engaged embodied impulsive play. Her methods are rooted in her cultural background and upbringing, in Westbury, Johannesburg, and Maine.
When her family moved to Maine in the early 1990s, she knew well how to advocate for herself. She was regularly confused about race relations, social justice, the education system, and white terrorism in Maine, and longed to see leaders that looked like her in places that decisions were being made and power was being wielded, in large numbers, consistently. Now, 37 years old, she is a leader in rooms where young children of the global majority can see themselves represented in ways that feel healthy and whole, not tokenized, dehumanized, and marginalized for quota's sake or as emotional entertainment. Since becoming an educator She has self-designed several educational and performance programs to focus on disparities in under resourced, and underrepresented communities, in Maine, and how to shift them towards a more inclusive language and operation. When she is not working, she can be found singing and dancing down the streets of Portland wearing her crown, or home resting, and eating. If you need to reach René Goddess, please write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org