Black Choreographers Festival Here and Now Week Three in Oakland draft
Saturday night was a gala and awards night for the tenth anniversary. The theatre was sold out and there was standing room only, some folks seated on the stairs.
Freedom on BCHN's Collective Mind?
Dying While Black and Brown, choreographer, Joanna Haigood
There are four men in a small orange cell shaped like a house and during the work, they occupy, climb and sit on even dance with the structure. Haigood said that the house was once used as part of the set for Arrivals and Departures at the San Francisco International Airport. In the former piece the houses were hanging from the ceilings.
Freedom was certainly one of the collective themes this three weekend at Black Choreographers Festival Here and Now as first Joanna Haigood’s work which centered on four men housed in a small cell, while Gregory Dawson’s work, birds eye view, was about movement and flight as was Kendra Kimbrough Barnes's whose work looked at migration from the south north to freedom and opportunity –something a change of venue often didn’t provide.
I don't think Africans are natural capitalist--there is something about the isolation and competition and domination. Capitalism rests on the notion that only one can win. In Clearance: Linking our Passage, the choreographer does not philosophically throw out patterns that served the community well, rather she incorporates those moves into the present-- as Tossie Long sings: "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around."
I am looking forward to the completed work.
For Black People
I remember when I first met Bamuthi, he was on screen in the film, Slamnation in Marin. I invited him to recite one of his poems at the Maafa Commemoration—he came and was too moved by the ritual to interrupt his participation with performance. I am still hoping one day to collaborate with The Living Word Festival and Youth Speaks and Maafa San Francisco Bay Area—maybe for our twentieth anniversary in 2015?
Haiti as a symbol of liberation closed the evening with . . . Zanset Ibo/Nasyon DECHENNENI!, Portsha Jefferson, choreographer. (Bamuthi is Haitian American).
In this cowboys and indigenous people story, the indigenous people win. Servitude is short lived as the people pick up swords and fight the foreigners off. It’s spiritual weapons against man’s weapons and in this and all cases, those armed with spirit win.
The heroine comes fierce and holds her own in the face of the white man’s guns. I think her fearlessness in itself makes the enemy tremble.
Excellently rendered, the work opens on a peaceful village scene. Women pound grains into flour, while kids play and run between their elders who are preparing meals, gathering in the marketplace, doing laundry. This scene shifts to one of chaos as the enemy rushes in and snatches a child and a woman. What we see next are shackled people, no longer free.
The work is divided into sections, really marvelous solos and duets with two and three company members, often four. The live musical ensemble is superb and integrated into the larger work occasionally coming into the scene, as a soloist does between captivity and freedom.