Friday, November 7, 2014

The CAKE is Coming: A dedication.

Moving Spirits to Enlightenment at Smack Mellon Gallery
Presented by Moving Spirits, Inc.
Photo by Oron Bell/G.L.O. Photos

To say that I am having an overwhelming couple of weeks is the understatement of the year.

There was a moment last week Friday when I was standing in my living room, naked, tears streaming down my face and laughing hysterically. I am a mess. I am vulnerable. I am cracked, wide open. 

I already knew this week would be something. It's the production week for my new premiere. I am pursuing several new opportunities. But then without warning, the world discovered street harassment, and the hypothetical of my long-term roommate moving out finally manifested. Insanity ensued. Typical, New York City-style insanity where being ready and able to move at a moment's notice is always best. 

But I was not ready.

Every part of my life is shape shifting at an alarming rate in a way that me - the organized, planner of a woman I am - can not control. And that is so scary to me because in the midst of all of this, I am making a dance. I need something to be controlled so I can maintain sanity while in the depths of creative visioning. I am frustrated that I do not have more time. That I do not have the privilege of more time because I HAVE to do the work that pays my bills if I want to even attempt this artist life at all.

I am thinking of my grandmother who dedicated her entire life to her family. Whose entire life was about survival, while praying and dreaming of what was beyond that survival. It is a blessing, privilege and honor that I am even able to live this life as much as I am. I can not waste it.

And so, there is CAKE. 

A dance that has come about within a time where the memory of my grandmother is at the forefront of my heart and mind. A time where daily think pieces on the condition of black womanhood are analyzed vis-a-vis Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and Love and Hip Hop. A time when I am teaching black and brown high school girls to dance, and to love their bodies and to appreciate themselves for who they are. Where I struggle to decolonize my teaching practices -- trying to make sure I leave space for the movement they value, while training them in the Western dance traditions that have come to feel like home to me. A time where black women's voices and images are bigger and louder than ever before, and yet it seems like for all our diversity and breadth and brilliance there is still only a handful of us who are really, actually heard.

With this dance, we are digging into some stuff: Where does being lady-like get us? When can we take the pearls/our armor off? It's heavy. Are the choices we make really our own? Who of us can be free? How do we get free? When can we be naked, open, vulnerable? How do we create judgement free spaces? When are we allowed to indulge? Where are our spaces where our own pleasure is front and center? 

And then there is the back and forth between us women, trying to figure out these things. Trying to figure out where we go from here for our students, sisters, nieces, and daughters. We are each trying to parse out the lesson plan for the girls who look like us, and look up to us.

But I think I just prefer that we admit that we are all a hot mess, then live in that truth. We are all some version of standing stark naked in tears and laughter, whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

And so with the CAKE, I ask that instead of clutching our pearls - one grown woman policing another grown woman's mess - in the name of the babies, let's focus on learning how to just be. And teaching our girls to just be who they are and who they want to be. To live lives with out shame. To live lives full of pleasure, joy, and resiliency with mental, physical and spiritual health. Who have the power to make their own decisions. To not only feel whole, but to be given the benefit of the doubt that she is whole. 

For myself I pray for a life where I have the space to fall a part, and put myself back together again in my own time. I pray for a life where I can indulge in my own creative passion so that I can live in my purpose and give that gift to the world.

For my teenage students, I wish for them to be able to accomplish their hearts desires and not be held back by the systematic circumstances they were born into. I hope that I can set an example by living in my own truth, no matter how messy it is. 

To the little black girl I saw outside at the bus stop one week ago, dressed in her poofy Halloween gown (was she a witch? Or a princess? I couldn't tell. I hope she was both.), whose mother scolded her for jumping up and down and singing out although she was bothering no one ("Hush! You're too loud!") - I dedicate this dance to you. May you find your freedom to have your cake, and eat it too.

video courtesy Kimla Baugh


Erika said...

You are doing such meaningful and important work, and it's HARD work, too. If you didn't have moments of breakdown I'd think you were made of steel, and no matter how much the world tries to convince me that that's how we, as women, as black women, need to be in order to navigate said world, we know that that is not a sustainable state. Your dedication to this work means that not only your peers but future generations will at least get another narrative, another perspective, another story to tell about themselves. Take the time you need to stand there bawling and laughing naked in your home, then take the deep breaths, splash the water on your face, and go back out there and do what needs to be done. Oh, but get dressed before you walk out the house. I forgot that part...

Sydnie Mosley said...

Erika, Thank you for your comments.


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