Ntozake Shange

FullSizeRender (7)Ms. Shange,

1991.  I had the transformational opportunity to perform in your work

spell#7: geechee jibara quik magic trance manual for technologically stressed third world people

at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, MN.

this was my first professional production.

what a rite of passage, to take on your words, the dance of them, the physicality of them,

and to perform them, conjure the work with a distinguished group of black creative folx.

to don the minstrel mask, legacy through picking cotton, lindy-hopping and grooving till we arrived into the 70’s, where the spell unfolds through our impassioned voices.

to transport ourselves into that bar/club, that part of NYC, to embody those ‘actor’ characters as they shared, poeticized, strutted, expressed dimensions of blackness that both awakened and mystified my own blackness.

I sang a song that was not meant for me

played a guitar that was never more than plucking strings

kissed a woman deeply with all of my queer breath held tightly

and stumbled to break open my creative universe

i’m still stumbling… with the spell of your work still nurturing/resting in my soul

thank you.

modupue.

I say you name

give offering to sweeten your palate

soften your pathway to foreverness

pull back into the words of the spells you have crafted

and bask

always.

I call your name acknowledging you amongst the creative ancestors who profoundly shaped/changed the way we/I expressed and experience theatre/performance

for us

by us.

US

sssssssssssssssspelllllll number SEVEN!

 

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dis body.

my father’s body
has found its way into my own
the forehead expands, the hair recedes
extends into my stomach…keeps extending
seeping into leg bones degeneratively.
mom’s here too
fully in thighs widened
a rounded high end
drifting up
towards heart’s inner sanctum inner strength
to mind’s brewing bipolarity
permeable mental precarity
present whether i try to hide it or not.
like family
i’m sometimes ashamed
don’t always pay attention
struggle with yet embrace
embraced
evolving pains, woes, fissures, the growths…
all needs tending
tenacious softening
a responsive love
to
of
for
this cultured body

this dance is black.

a black man.
a disabled black man.
two recent killings
that we know of
with more to come…

& i
in the midst of this –
bridge bodies shoulders with another brotha
arms cross arms
bending necks
this dance emerges
dropping to knees
falling towards the ground
face down
shaken into
holds that rock us
onto our backs
thighs cradle head
side to side
side by side
to momentary stillness.

then
pressed against each other
we roll up
rise
our breaths are deep
with hands extended
ready to carry ourselves.
again.

black men
disabled black men
we be.
&
we keep movin.

#thisdanceisBlack  #theseFolkwecarry #whathebodyknows

these moments. in the act of art.

the art making doesn’t stop. in the midst of campaigning for what the body knows, an opportunity to collaborate is embraced.  basking from the beauty of the act of art, in the art of experimentation with brilliant artists Nikki Patin and Mikel Patrick Avery in politics  of space , curated by Demecina Beehn as the culmination to 2016 Chicago Home Theater Festival at Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative’s studio in the neighborhood of  Greater Grand Crossing.

truly thankful for these moments:

this moment in the act of art. we three be. within community. making the unknown known.

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this moment in the act of art. we find each other. tenderly. “who’s the table”. revealing truths.

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the moment post performing. still savoring the act of art. candidly, we three creative folk be.

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from left to right: Nikki Patin, Mikel Patrick Avery and me.

 

support.

sometimes we are offered support. many times we need it. no shame.

Barak supported by Jerron

thankful for the support of my dance partner  Jerron Herman – in this above moment photographed by Nikki Bruce – and the folk who have supported  what the body knows campaign thus far!

this choreographic project will premiere at Stony Island Arts Bank with FREE performances on October 28th and 29th.

the final phase needs more support. please join in the conversation surrounding the intersection of race and disability…embodied through what the body knows.

we keep movin.

May 3rd Performance-52

Black. and Disabled. and Dancing. We keep moving. together. through Art. in Community.

Nearly 1 in 5 folks in America have a disability. Intersect that recent statistic with  the racializing that impacts us all, and we are in for a profound convergence.  A powerful moment to recognize the strength within these communities through thoughtful discussions socially and creatively. 

Join us in the deepening of this conversation.  Please support this new work intersecting race and disability.  A suite of solos and a duet illuminating how we move and are moved by others.

what the body knows campaign is LIVE.   

=====

*image of Jerron Herman and Barak by EyeAmNikkiB