|photo credit: Risa Shoup|
I took a "nothing for nobody" day yesterday because after Monday night, time for rest, reflection, processing, and settling was necessary. I spent much of my time writing (and writing and writing) prayers of gratitude and acknowledgement. I am extraordinarily proud to be awarded the Bessie for Outstanding Performer as a part of the ensemble cast of *the skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds* brilliantly curated and convened by Eva Yaa Asantewaa (also awarded for her Outstanding Service To The Field Of Dance).
As I reflect on all this and think about who I am grateful for that has made it possible for me to be present now doing this dancing *and* recognized for it, there is one name that is supreme: Ava Fields.
I mean, this award is for Outstanding Perfomer in an Improvisational Performance amongst a Multi Generational Community of Black Women and gender non conforming people that took place in a Church.
This was my entire dancing childhood.
I remember every class, rehearsal, performance, and moment in between with Aunt Ava. Those early years when she told me You can't do that dance because you haven't been through anything yet.
Those moments when she would thrust me onto stage with 30 seconds notice. I was the soloist. Time to improvise.
Our shopping trips to the thrift store for costumes.
The scrappiness of putting on a show with and for your community.
The day after my grandfather passed, I showed up at dance class and she said, I didn't expect to see you here but makes sense. I was 16 and heartbroken. She made space for me to dance it out.
The importance of waiting and listening for vision, as she shared her stories of walking the dog at 3am and becoming clear on the next big work.
The moment she proclaimed that "The Potter's House" was my dance. Something had shifted in my dancing. I was changed. Mature.
She showed me what it truly means to be a T E A C H I N G A R T I S T.
How to meet people where they are - the community center, the street, the church - and open their hearts with movement.
Auntie Ava, you taught me how to do things with dance.
|photo credit: AK47 Division|
And so this recognition is for her, and for all the dance teacher Mamas and Aunties who raised us, who set us on our path, and made space for us to fly.
May this recognition, this visibility, this witnessing not only write the names of the cast of skeleton architecture into dance herstory, but write the legacies that we come from and the legacies we are building.
The ensemble of the skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds is one of four awardees for Outstanding Performer. The cast includes Maria Bauman, Sidra Bell, Davalois Fearon, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Melanie Greene, Kayla Hamilton, Jasmine Hearn, Marguerite Hemmings, Nia Love, Paloma McGregor, Sydnie L. Mosley, Rakiya Orange, Grace Osborne, Leslie Parker, Angie Pittman, Samantha Speis, Charmaine Warren, Marýa Wethers, Ni’Ja Whitson, and others*
Curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa for Danspace Project’s Platform 2016: Lost and Found
For a history-in-the-making performance that dismantled improvisational dance norms to create a robust, disruptive, and dynamic world. For a cast of individuals who used a full range of movement styles to take the audience from Dakar to Kingston, the Bronx to Bushwick, in a fluid dance of connection.
*Edisa Weeks and Tara Aisha Willis were also in the cast but are ineligible as they serve on the Bessie Selection Committee