We Are the World

A boundary-defying experimental performance project blending dance, costume, video, and performance art with dark, heavily percussive electronic music, We Are the World came together in the late 2000s in Los Angeles' Echo Park neighborhood. Germinating out of collaborations between choreographer ("Sir") Ryan Heffington and musician/producer Robbie Williamson which were initially presented as part of the latter's monthly performance event/dance party, Fingered, the group's early shows included as many as 15 people on-stage, but its lineup soon solidified into a tight foursome: Williamson on production (and live percussion), his wife Megan Gold as lyricist and lead singer (the couple, who initially met in Tacoma, WA in 1992, were also performing at the time as the band Work), with Heffington creating costumes and choreographing alongside Fingered co-conspirator and dancer/film artist Nina McNeely. We Are the World's dynamically theatrical shows, which draw from a range of aesthetic and cultural sources to explore issues of political ideology, gender identity, and religious fundamentalism (their heavily stylized wardrobe has been known to include burqas, nightmarish black-and-white masks, and outfits inspired by ninjas, guerilla revolutionaries, Chinese peasants, and French mimes), have inspired great amounts of both confusion and enthusiasm and earned them a rabid local following. Offstage, the group have contributed tracks to two tribute albums (honoring the Cure and David Bowie) on L.A.-centric label Manimal Vinyl; the single "Clay Stones" appeared in 2009 on I Am Sound, with a predictably bewildering accompanying video by Alma Har'el, and their debut album of the same title followed on Manimal in April 2010. ~ K. Ross Hoffman

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