mayfield brooks: Whale Fall

View Program for Whale Fall

A “whale fall” describes the process of a whale’s decomposition after it dies and falls to the ocean floor, where it provides vital nutrients for deep sea creatures.

With music composition created in collaboration with composer Everett Saunders and cinematographer Suzi Sadler, Whale Fall is a video work by mayfield brooks takes place somewhere in the abyss. It is an echo into darkness. No theater lights. No sets. No narrative. brooks considers how a sperm whale’s life of darkness, codas, echolocations, and vertical slumbering can choreograph this time of grief.

In the virtual presentation of this video work, they ask: What can a barren theater teach me? How does a Black artist dance in the abyss? How can I decompose this show?


mayfield brooks improvises while black, and is currently based in brooklyn, new york on lenapehoking land, the homeland of the lenape people. mayfield is a movement-based performance artist, vocalist, urban farmer, writer, and wanderer. they are currently an artist in residence at the center for performance research (cpr) and abrons arts center in new york city/lenapehoking, is faculty at movement research nyc and the editor-in-chief of the movement research performance journal. mayfield teaches and performs practices that arise from their life/art/movement work, improvising while black (iwb).

Suzi Sadler is a Brooklyn based cinematographer. Their focus is building non-hierarchical film sets and finding more ethical and sustainable ways to make films. Suzi’s recent work includes: Performance: Eiko Atake’s A Body in a Cemetery, Luan Joy Sherman’s Intricate Rituals, Music videos: Feel Like Shit The Weekend Ladies, Highway 9 the Visual EP Sarah M., Belief Lou Tides (dir. Lorelei Ramirez), Lips 2 Lips Ziemba (dir Colleen Marie Foley), Documentary: MigrantScape dir. Thanushka Yakupitiyage, Narrative: Bad at Birthdays dir. Jesse Thurston (feature, 2021), Low Road dir. Eleanor Wilson (MoMA), Work in Progress dir. Dan Pfau (LA Shorts Fest).

Everett Saunders is an accomplished composer, sound designer, and producer. With an expertise in audio post-production and multi track board operation, he is the founder and creative director of Flux Innovations. Notable clients include PBS, Sony Music, and Columbia Records. As a film and theatrical composer he’s a two time awardee of the New Music USA Project Grant, a 2018 New York Dance & Performance Bessie Award winner, and a recipient of coveted residencies at the Baryshnnikov Arts Center and the Petronio Residency Center. Saunders has composed original works for revered theatrical and contemporary artists including Urban Bush Women, Edgar Arcenaux, and Jaamil Kosoko.


Whale Fall is commissioned by the Abrons Arts Center through the Performance AIRspace Residency, which is supported by the Jerome Foundation.

The 2020-2021 Season at Abrons Arts Center is supported, in part, by generous grants from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Jerome Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and other generous Henry Street Settlement funders. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Image credit: Johanna K. Wilson