LET'S DANCE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2022:
1-4 MAY 2022 - LEICESTER, UK
What is the relationship between situ and soil? What does it mean to be in situ with shifting landscapes? How do we define space for dance in the Diaspora that transcends geography? What does it mean to be situated in dance, in movement? Today? Virtually? How does our dance practice situate our work in the realm of performative action and transformation? What are the situated knowledges developed through dance and choreography? What histories are embodied in the spaces and bodies we inhabit? How can dance respond to the challenges of the environment? How do we move as dance artists in our natural, original position as leaders?
Forthcoming: "In Situ: Responding to Space, Place, People and Time", to be published by Serendipity UK in October 2022.
DANCE/NYC SYMPOSIUM: LIFE CYCLES, LIVELIHOODS, LEGACIES
19 MARCH 2022 - NEW YORK
ARCHIVE: #iART #iMOTHER
AIR DANCE CONFERENCE 2022
6-10 MARCH 2022 - MIAMI, FLORIDA
BELMONT BABY DOLLS: CURATING RADICAL CARIBBEAN FUTURISMS THROUGH MASterful PERFORMATIVITY
1 MARCH 2022
"Working at the intersection of dance, Black feminisms, African diasporic theory, and Caribbean performance aesthetics, we welcome Makeda Thomas to speak about her Carnival Mas-making practice and performance. Makeda has written about her work as an embodiment of a political and feminist ethos, which works through and extends the layered histories of the traditional carnival character the Baby Doll, to forge an embodied, contemporary practice examining how gender, sexuality, and race shape Carnival rituals and how her contemporary Mas-making curates of/for radical Caribbean futurisms."
VIRTUALLY BLACK: dancingBLACKtogether
18-20 FEBRUARY 2022 | DUKE UNIVERSITY
dancingBLACKtogether. Ten years of CADD.
I was honoured to introduce and close, from Trinidad & Tobago, the virtual platform for the Collegium for African Diasporic Dance's 5th Biannual Conference. CADD 2022 opened with a procession, under the gaze of a Moko jumbie - a “Jouvay” that was followed by two days of “Ame” to those ancestors through whom we’ve inherited it. Lovingly, we placed our ancestors in dance - Eleo Pomare and Dr. Mama Kariamu Welsh - on the altar of this year’s gathering, attended to by our colleagues in dance, the Executive Board of CADD, and Keynote Presenters - Dr. Yvonne Daniel, Dr. Jasmine Johnson, Baba Abdel Salaam, and Dianne “Lady Di” Walker.
What began in 2012 as the African Diaspora Research Group is now a sacred occasion to join in the beauty of dancingBLACKtogether. Give thanks for all who made the virtual platform for CADD 2022 as rigorous and BLACK as it is, always. I was so moved. We closed this year’s Collegium for African Diaspora Dance Conference looking forward to all the times we will, most certainly, danceBLACKtogether.
"ON BATTY MOVES"
PROGRAM NOTE FOR FIVE COLLEGE DANCE STAGING OF URBAN BUSH WOMEN'S "BATTY MOVES"
11 NOVEMBER 2021
A Black woman, most certainly of Khoi-San descent, sat beside me on a 2004 flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Her round, open face resembled images I’d seen of Sarah Baartman during independent research. “She will be so honoured to know that you came to check her”, my mother said in a very Caribbean way, on that first call home.
Days later, overlooking the largest sundial in Africa, I am sitting on “Assembly Hill” at the final resting place of Sarah Baartman. The journal entry I wrote from that spot reads:
“Sarah Baartman [shaped], in the Western mind, the notion of black female sexuality. Sarah was twenty years old when she left the Eastern Cape in 1810, traveling west to Cape Town. It was there that she worked for a Dutch farmer who let his brother take her to Europe. From London to Paris, Sarah became the object of 'scientific’ study and European audiences who came to see her - exhibited as a freak of nature…She was twenty-five when she died. After her death, Europe’s finest minds made a plaster cast of her body. Her skeleton was articulated. Her brains and genitals were removed, preserved and exhibited in Musee d'Homme in Paris for all to see. Until 1976. In 1994, with Nelson Mandela as President, South Africa began working with the French government to return her remains to her homeland for proper burial. Sarah’s nearly 200 year old remains were repatriated in 2002.”
“Batty Moves” is a victory dance - the victory of repatriation to the body; of being at home in one’s body and free from Western violence that has sought to define Black womanhood. Urban Bush Women (with whom I danced as a company member) describes this work as “a celebration about seeing beauty in all the different shapes, sizes, and shades we come in”. “Batty Moves” also proclaims, through dance, that it is not sufficient to just have the batty, but that it must be confirmed through movement. When batty moves, it pushes back - and forward - from Congo to the Caribbean in the dancehalls of Jamaica and on the road for Trinidad’s Carnival to Eastern Cape where a beautiful Black woman named Sarah Baartman projected herself into our future. When batty moves, we dance with our whole bodies - across time and space, making while undoing those mantles upon which the Black female body and womanhood has been altar-ed/altered; that would fall, by virtue of this work.
Urban Bush Women’s “Batty Moves” revels in this agency. Its reverbs were felt at the 1995 premiere and are still being felt today. How does freedom move, in the body, and why? Urban Bush Women’s 37 years of existence and Jawole Zollar’s naming as a 2021 MacArthur Genius Fellow for “using the power of dance and artistic expression to celebrate the voices of black women” together comprise an ancient naming that futurizes itself in the batty moves of a Black woman.
ARCHIVE: SARAH BAARTMAN & BLACK SEXUALITY