BLACK VELVET @ BAM Fisher – May 2019



After SOLD OUT Performances in NYC in 2018, BLACK VELVET returns to NYC for its Brooklyn Premier at BAM FISHER in May, 2019.

BLACK VELVET – Architectures and Archetypes is an original multidisciplinary performance art work created and premiered by Shamel Pitts, Mirelle Martins and Lucca Del Carlo.

BLACK VELVET is a celebration of the many textures, beauty, delicacy, and power within  us.

It is an art piece that aims to share and reflect on  the colorfulness of blackness -especially in regards to black women- in a relationship of love, compassion and camaraderie.

The dealing within structures of systems is to discover what is inside of us, between us and around us. To hopefully bridge the distances so that we can see and meet each other.

Some systems must be broken, re imagined, in order to reconstruct.   




Choreography: Shamel Pitts

Creation & Performance: Shamel Pitts, Mirelle Martins

Light & Video Mapping: Lucca Del Carlo

Costume Design: David Gap, Naomi Maaravi

Sound Design: Ed Côrtes

Photography: Maurício Pisani, Alex Apt, Rebecca Stella, Itai Zwecker 

Artistic Manager: Elizabeth Schmuhl

Premiere: November 11, 2016, São Paulo

Duration: 60 minutes (no intermission)




Two bodies glowing as if made of liquid metal explore each other’s contours in the darkness.

Shaved heads and naked torsos blur the boundaries between masculine and feminine; the dance shifts from formalised patterns to uncontrolled corporeal explosions.

The loincloths worn by the couple suggest an archaic origin; geometric structures point to a technology of the future: “Architectures and Archetypes” is the subtitle of this multidisciplinary performance, with which Shamel Pitts celebrates the colour black.

The titular “Black Velvet” is soft in texture but also absorbs light and reflects it in its very own shadowed way. What does it mean to be black today? What do semi-naked bodies signal in an over-sexualized society? Can they also be simply beautiful?


The New Yorker Shamel Pitts danced with the Batsheva Dance Company for many years and is a teacher of Ohad Naharin’s movement language, Gaga. The Brazilian Mirelle Martins was lauded for her “phenomenal performance” at the ImPulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival.





TIMEOUT – Israel

The music roars disturbingly loud, white noise drumming on furiously. Two ever-so-graceful bodies glide on stage, the feeble light slowly focusing on their muscular forms as they push and strive, embrace and break apart. Their shorn heads and similar build make it almost impossible to discern between the pair of dancers. Are they female or male? Are they fighting or making love? Are they winning or losing? Does it even matter? This ambiguous, magical duo who enjoy both provoking and moving their audiences to tears are artists Shamel Pitts and Mirelle Martins” 



Milk.XYZ – USA

Black Velvet: Architectures and Archetypes”, performed by Shamel Pitts and Mirelle Martins, explores the intricacies of what it means to be black in America and the world. The dance piece celebrates the many textures, beauty, delicacy, and strength that can be found within all of us.


Der Standard – Vienna 

Clothed only in loincloths, the golden fetishistic bodies seem to have emerged from the dawn of humanity.”

ArtsATL – Atlanta 

“In a duet that blurred gender lines and pushed the boundaries of physical virtuosity and exertion, Pitts and Martins created inventive mirror images with their androgynous appearance and with movements that juxtaposed strength with softness. Using ladders for their minimal set, they deftly maneuvered them into different configurations in order to convey an abstract, and incredibly moving, exploration of human connection and black love. The hour-long journey transfixed audiences, allowing room for them to contemplate something larger than themselves or a single issue — like race, gender or injustice — that would have been too facile of a takeaway.”




2017:  Berlin, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem

2018: New York City, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Atlanta, Vienna, Singapore, Baltimore, Kaunas. 

Next Dates: See Full Schedule


“This event is presented by Black Velvet Performance Art. BAM house and ticketing policies may not apply. BAM Membership benefits do not apply.”