Broadway and Racism

The Broadway Advocacy Coalition is hosting a 3 day virtual event where attendees will be discussing and coming up with ways to combat racism in the theatre. More information in the video below.

Books to Read about Black Dancers and Social Justice

TODAY BREONNA TAYLOR WOULD HAVE BEEN CELEBRATING HER 27TH BIRTHDAY. #SAYHERNAME

I have been meditating lately on what my place is in the world right now with everything going on. Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, Unemployment, etc. I wake up and go to sleep thinking, WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING RIGHT NOW? There is no right or wrong answer and there is always this hole of grief. But something that has always brought me comfort is reading.

I am currently reading, “Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster”, by Stephen L. Carter. And while I was reading about Eunice Hunton Carter, who was a prosecutor in the 1930’s and 40’s in New York City, it felt like déjà vu. The stories of police brutality, crooked politicians, and false reporting in the media. Specific details of rioting and the spread of misinformation mirrored what is happening today in 2020. Committees were put into place and came up with action plans that were ignored by politicians and here we are almost a century later.

While reading about Eunice Hunton Carter and just how eerily history is repeating itself, I got curious as to how black dancers of the past tackled these issues. I am searching for some writings from black dancers during the spanish flu in 1918, as during those times black people are facing the same discrimination as today. There is however an abundance of resources on black dancers and the fight for social justice.

Here is the beginning of my short list:

  • Kasiso! Writing by and about Katherine Dunham, Edited by Vèvè A. Clark and Sara E. Johnson
  • Urban Bush Women: Twenty Years of African American Dance Theater, Community Engagement, and Working It Out, by Nadine George-Graves
  • Black Dance: From 1619 to Today, by Lynne Fauley Emery
  • The Black Dancing Body: A geography From Coon to Cool, by Brenda Dixon Gottschild

If you have any suggestions please comment below.

Thank you for reading! Stay safe and Educated!

Dancing in Dark Skin and Social Justice

When I look back at the beginning of Dancing in Dark Skin, I realized that I created it in 2014, my first year at Spelman College. It was around this time that I started to learn about dance and social justice. I learned how dance was used and is being used to make change all over the world. I wanted to create another platform to amplify my voice as a black artist.

I am consciously coming to the conclusion that over the past few years I have not been intentionally using this platform for change.

Recently I have been making post about black artists from our history who have set the foundation and paved the way for all of us. Black people being able to sit orchestra level at a show (about black people) would not be legal if it weren’t for the work of our ancestors. So I will continue to say their names and share their history.

In 2016 I was President of Spriggs Burroughs Drama and Dance Ensemble and we were encouraged by administration to lead the way as ARTISTS on campus and organize demonstrations and events in response to the murders of Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Freddie Grey, Tamir Rice, Ayanna Jones and so many more.

We created a week of events entitled The Neo Black Arts Movement, in homage to BAM (the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s). The week included rally’s, play readings, documentary watching, discussions and a march around the Atlanta University Center. Today I want to share a piece that I performed at the rally with Assata Hefner, written by Janerica Smith.

To be completely transparent, for me to get up and generate movement during this time is tough. So I am going to do what I can and share what I can.

Spriggs Burroughs is still doing the work:

Follow Spriggs on Instagram for updates @spriggsburroughs

Thank you for supporting this platform! Let’s make change!

Here are some links to learn and support protesters and activist that are doing the ground work right now!

naacoldf.org

https://blacklivesmatter.com

https://www.knowyourrightscamp.com

https://www.untilfreedom.com

Elida Webb

  • Born 1895 in Virginia.
  • Broadway Show credits include:
    • Flying Colors (1932)
    • Show Boat (1932)
    • Singing the Blues (1931)
    • Lucky (1927)
  • Staged all the musicals, dance specials, and chorus numbers for the club “Runnin’ Wild” in 1923.
  • Claimed to have invented the Charleston dance.
  • Studied dance under Ada Overton Walker.
  • One of the first black choreographers on  Broadway.
  • Danced and choreographed at The Cotton Club.
  • Died 1975.

Picture Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/459507968200609709/

Dora Dean

  • Known for performing the cakewalk with partner Charles Johnson in the all black musical “The Creole Show” in New York
  • Born in Kentucky around 1872.
  • She was so good at the cakewalk that she booked solo engagements at vaudeville theaters in New York.
  • First black performer to wear thousand dollar costumes.
  • Toured Europe
  • Performed and produced the shows:
    • Dore Dean & Co
    • Dore Dean and Her Phantoms
  • Retired in the 1920s.
  • Died December 13, 1949.

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photos from

https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:17816/

https://flickr.com/photos/147039490@N04/31182259313/