Powerful. Purposeful. People of Color.
Today is a very interesting one.
It's the much anticipated day of the Grand Performances by the professional Black Dance Companies of IABD.
Dr. Halifu Osumare looking through my book.
I scurry off to Dr. Halifu Osumare's Writing Workshop for Black Memoirs. She shared with us her life as a writer and encouraged us to write our stories as well. She gave us a writing prompt that sent us immediately into a vulnerable place in our lives in where memories of self, family, upbringing culture and dance meet in just a single paragraph. Dr. O reminds us that putting down a few thoughts by our bedside is a healthy start to developing a full story. I intend to do so. Because my story is one that must be told. I walked up to her after workshop an took her hand. That day, I'd read my email earlier to discover the unfortunate news from the Fulbright Scholarship of which I'd applied to be an ESL Instructor in South Africa. I had not been accepted to go onto the next round for consideration. Apparently the process is an extremely competitive one as the IABD Award Winning Scholars Award Recipient for indicated that she herself had applied (3) times for before acceptance. She saw into my eyes and simply said "....Mmmm." Just knowing. It's Spiritual.
The evening performances were like none other.
Held at the regal and historical Victoria Theater one of the first Movie Theaters and integrated entertainment locations in Ohio in the United States.
Sitting next to, in full circle, a teacher and mentor from my alma mater Alonzo King LINES Ballet Kara Abiog I jotted down some notes in my program during the performance in response to each piece.
Joan Meyers and Ann Williams
Dance Legend, Founder of Dallas Black Dance Theatre
President, CEO of IABD Denise Thompson Saunders
A Question of Modesty by Forces of Nature Theatre
I actually only partial saw this dance, as I'd misplaced my ticket somewhere my hotel room.
Interestingly enough, I was greeted many times over by audiences members congratulating me on a job well done because of my Tribal Makeup and Prints of which mirror the image displayed in this storytelling piece about the controversial beliefs of major religions of the day and indigenous/cultural systems.
Fragments by LuLu Washington Dance Theatre
This piece makes me think of Dwana Smallwood. Her freedom, essence and realness in motion....the stage setting takes us to the streets of....anyone's' neighborhood, interacting with one another, learning, growing and living. Toward the end of the piece, the dancers shouted out important phrases about Voting, Harassment and Rape. I appreciated these insertions of political and social awareness especially on stage. Artists tend to live a removed like from the events that take place outside of the spectrum of what they know from day to day--which is for dancers, the studio or the stage. Just to be outrightly asked the question "Did you VOTE?" Is a powerful statement and reflection within itself. The audience receives that. Now more than ever this concept of getting involved is more real to us than ever with drastic changes and series of events in our current administration. Because if we don't get involved--the resources that we need most maybe slipped out and up from under us.
Cause by Robert Moses Kin
I spent my college years in the San Francisco Bay Area. So there's one thing I know to expect when it comes to Mr. Kin's work, thought. There's no sense of trying to keep up with what each of the dancers are doing because they move so swiftly, sweeping across the floor lifting spinning and supporting one another in pattern beneath lighting schemes. I enjoyed it and felt sense of calm come over me that allowed me to simply just receive and absorb what was being share instead of trying to make something out of it.
Dawn by Dance Theatre of Harlem
This is a solo featuring a female dancer dressed in a beautifully adorned in white color and jewel sequined tutu. The dancer starts as if to perform a classical variation but is interrupted intermittently by odd and errie sounds that lead the dancer either toward or away from it causing her to stop suddenly and return to the classical music and pointe work finishing out strong as if nothing every happened. Contemporary meets Classical in a Literal Sense. Choreographed by the company's director--Virgina Johnson.
Uprooted: Pero Replantado by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
Choreographer, Dancer Anthony Burrell
I love watching dancers that "know" their bodies--that have an ability to express themselves without getting carried away; can maintain the integrity and quality of the movement all while going to the SOUL level. And showing us, as the audience just that. This was an enjoyable Latino ballad celebration through movement choreographed by Donald McKayle
Cry by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
Solo Dancer, Seasoned Company Member and Mother Constance Stamatoui took us back to the days of Judith Jamison with her long out stretched arms and limbs dancing this homage to Ailey's mother and all Mothers of Love, Struggle, Brokenness and Rejoicing.
Endangered Species by Philadanco! The Philadelphia Dance Company
If we even dared to allow our minds and hearts to dwindle away from recent tragic events of senseless police killings and unjust acts against our Black Men, this piece reminds and reignite the stories of truth. As I sat in my seat, I felt proud to Black. Proud to see moving black bodies take ownership of their identity, story, power and presence in the time that asks us to be Passive not Peaceful and time after time forget the evidences of brutal and unfair treatment in our communities.
Congratulations to Anthony Burrell on this IABD premiere--a statement of resilience against the incessant✊🏾🚔🚨 outbursts of violent and aggressive acts towards young Black Men in this country.
They bared their backs and bodies in a riveting heart beating display of movement that mirrors the Black Power Movement and presence of Male incarceration all in one. In a most poetic and articulate way. 🚨💯 You just had to be there!
Face What's Facing You! by Dallas Black Dance Theatre
This is first, I've seen this dance, however the choreographer: Claude Alexander reigns from my hometown Washington DC. I think back our dancing days in Ministry at church growing up as he commented about his longing to attend the performing arts school that a number of did at the time. He's always has a heart for meticulous movement and honored dance in a way that truly takes makes ones a "dancer". His piece seemed like a sacred rite of passage where the soul leaps out the body and the body goes to catch it. His dancers are powerful, moving and interweaving through space with force yet disdain. The dancers themselves moved with grace, maturity and a groundedness that still allowed for freedom of which we felt all the way up into the balcony.
Dancers of Divine Dance Institute after the performance. Wakanda ForEVER.
Parallel Lives by Deeply Rooted Dance TheaterThe dancers say, "She's a rough one." But you'd never be able to tell. Their bodies told a striking tale, each one different from another in an intense, powerful and best of all insync way. The chemistry and connection between the dancers was like watching telepathy in motion. There were not necessarily moments where the dancers made eye contact amongst themselves they just felt the dance and moved together. They were the mothers, sisters, aunts, and tribes women of our everyday lives moving about and getting it DONE. It's translated clearly in this work by Gary Abbott.
Four Corners by Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE Dance Company
Ms. Alicia Graf now Artistic Director of The Julliard School was not mentioned in or program but it came out onstage amongst the other mature, knowing, beautiful and aesthetically defined dancers. This was a lovely and deeply rooted piece that felt like a heart song. It's always see how not one detail lost or missing, right down to the pinky finger with these kinds of movements where the direction is to and fro, the movement clearly not over rehearsed but instead cultivated and performed with clear intention and understanding of what it's about. The name alone, suggested wisdom, a dance from out elders watching over us and pour into us as we move along allowing the legacy of what was to resound in us as we create works that now are.
This I Know for Sure by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Dancers of DCDC Nile and Countess after the show
Well, with the reoccurring theme of "knowing" DCDC definitely knew just that.
I appreciated this work and the dancers who brought it to life.
Having them float around and help us throughout the week, then seeing them on stage was a perfect closing to the event. This year DCDC is celebrating 50 years of bringing dance to the Dayton, Ohio Area.