one reflection from witnessing “what the body knows”

taking a moment to take in/look at various thoughts shared via facebook and email of those who witnessed the world premiere of what the body knows : a dance suite of two solos and a duet here’s one in particular, reflecting on various moments within the solo “ele’fant” and duet “carry”:

“To make a new world, we need to create new aesthetics. Barak Adé Soleil is making a new aesthetic, and it is the most destabilizing thing I have ever seen. This is more than a remix of existing body politics; beyond addressing the oppression and hegemony of current race, disability, gender, and sexuality behavior/discourse, his work is opening a door to a new way of being human in our crazy world. He eats the poisoned apple from our hands and regurgitates the pieces for us to see. He crawls the floor with the force of a freight train and ploughs through our psyches. He slams his body against the walls, and the walls shake. After “what the body knows,” someone asked me where do we go from here? ANYWHERE WE WANT.”

Mary Wu

more reflections to come from what the body knows and other presentations this year…



“the poetics of Empire”: a series of tweets

“the poetics of Empire” +

f#‎Tarajihenson‬ expressing her love of faggots in ‪#‎Empire‬

#Tarajihenson claiming James Brown lineage in #Empire

#‎Terrencehoward‬ cappin instead of rappin in #Empire

Dark shades and shady matters in #Empire

Something’s going down in #Empire

Monsters and geniuses, princes of America and gays in #Empire

Even a building is a B$tch in #Empire

#Tarajihenson calling people sissies in #Empire

#Tarajihenson advising against selling donuts and cookies in #Empire

Sons trying to be good enough in #Empire

No one’s safe from being called a B$tch in #Empire

Everybody is a rap song, r&b singer or medley in #Empire

#Tarajihenson knows thangs in #Empire

#Tarajihenson offering words of wisdom on white girls/women in #Empire

#Tarajihenson tipping and gun slinging in #Empire

Pill popping and butt slapping in #Empire

Oh ‪#‎Sidibe‬ faking preop in #Empire.

‪#‎notsopc‬ in #Empire

#Terrencehoward telling his queer son to take that “bass” out of his voice in #Empire

#Terrencehoward telling his queer son that it’s a choice in #Empire

Chains chains and bigger gold chains in #Empire

#Tarajihenson called a B by her “son” and oh, psychotic in #Empire

#Gaboureysidibe platinum blond and sassy in #Empire

#Tarajihenson feet hurting asking for #chicken in #Empire

#Tarajihenson sweated out her hair for this role. #Empire

#queerlove and #Kente in #Empire.

#Terrencehoward who did your hair? #Empire

Just peeped #KehindeWiley painting in the house of #Empire

#LeeDaniels I hope you “find your soul” in #Empire

Empire "family" from left to right: Trai Byers, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray
Empire “family”
Trai Byers, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray


+{these are select tweets. in my original tweets, “kente” refers to mud cloth. i incorrectly spell the names of the actors Taraji P Henson , Gabourey Sidibe & Terrence Howard. they are corrected for the purposes of this blog}

Living the dance part 1: Bolero Chicago’s community rigorously moves towards its Chicago Dancing Festival premiere

Last week during Bolero Chicago’s first rehearsal at Senn HS, Jerina from the west side, commented that she was “seeing dance in a different way”.  Having come to support her sister and cousin who were inside the process,  Jerina was surprised and impressed by the immediacy of this community of dancers emerging. “Interacting with different people could be awkward [but] they were clicking & hitting it off…There’s just something different…freeing…”

As stated in my previous entry, i too was impressed by this phenomenon.  A phenomenon not by any means foreign to professional dancers, musicians, actors or artists who come together with a common goal: to create a new work, put on a play, develop a new composition or learn & inspire choreography.  The fact that this was  “everyday people” – as dancer/student Jacqueline & witness to this past Wednesday’s rehearsal called them –  hasn’t eclipsed the wonder of instant comradery existing in the folds of this creative process for Bolero.  Nor has it dissuaded the “everyday people [insert Chicagoan]” from inspiring choreographer Larry Keigwin to intricately craft a labyrinth of crosses, steps, phrases and groupings for the exquisite musical composition.  “Larry is like a boy in a candy shop” Jacqueline expresses as we both witness him beaming as he looks upon the community of dancers embrace new moves he throws at them. and yes it’s a throw!  At one point later in the rehearsal he delivers a rapid set of instructions , counts and mutterings that only a dancer would understand… did they get it? i sure didn’t. And yet in one quick release the Chicagoans move through his directions with a certain finesse, as if they were accustomed to him in much the same way his dancers Ashley and Gary have come to experience. Both company dancers are observing the ways Larry interacts with the community dancers and assist, guide and notate the elaborate development of the choreography.

‘Setting dance on pedestrians” is intriguing  to Jacqueline.  She is from Chicago but goes to school at the prestigious  University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  Encountering Larry at Bates dance festival this summer, made her want to witness how this process unfolds.  Unfortunately, Jacqueline cannot be part of the performance because she leaves before Chicago Dancing Festival opens; however more new faces arrive into the space as the rehearsal begins, primed and ready to jump in.  An energetic burst sends people rushing to create a  ‘warm-up’ circle that mutates into a series of lines in order to review some phrases from their previous rehearsal. The “bow” dance flows as ‘End of Time”  is cranked up…the community radiates  warmth yet ‘koolness’ as they transition between steps. It’s clear they are enjoying grooving to Beyonce!

For Janet this is only her 2nd night…She came the night before and is excited to be present and moving. “So fun!” she proclaims… sweating & gleaming through the entire rehearsal. A full time dance teacher for Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Janet doesn’t perform as much as she did before; but when she heard about this project while at the Bates dance festival {yes much like Jacqueline}, she couldn’t resist the allure of Bolero Chicago…

more to come on Bolero & other ‘communal exchanges’ within the Chicago Dancing Festival in part 2 of Living the dance…For those interested in becoming part of this unique community performance, it’s not too late.  Bolero Chicago is looking for more people to be part of this wonderful community of dancers…stop by rehearsal tonite, 6pm,  at Nicholas Senn High School  Gymnasium – 5900 N Glenwood Ave, Door #10 to get involved right away or email Chicago Dancing Festival at

Bolero Chicago living the dance at Senn HS
photo by Araceli Arroyo