On this day when I watch the video below I weep with so much emotion it's hard to dissect all that I'm feeling. The Katherine Dunham Dance Stage at Oakland's Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival! Just wow!
I cry watching each frame of this video and with almost every word I write. I cry for something incredible we had. I cry for the uncertainty of the future for what we had was ESSENTIAL!!! And now, I just don't know how to get back what once was.
Here's the deal, a global pandemic has stricken us all. Countries and cities world wide are on lock-down. There are orders to stay at home, wear mask and gloves, avoid contact with large crowds. Most businesses are closed, and all schools have online classes. All this amidst 250,000 deaths around the world in the last 4 months. So, #1 The deadly virus Covid-19 brings me to tears as things are seeming to collapse around us.
#2. My deep love for community and bringing people together knowing the power and healing this brings makes me cry tears of gratitude and pride. We have such a beautiful strength! When we share our joys and pains on stage it touches our hearts and makes us strong. It is transformative.
I have seen and experienced the devastation that poverty, drugs, racism, PTSD, police brutality, and many other ills society has placed on black and brown people. I believe in the victory of freedom fighters and as brother Malcolm X states, 'Culture is an indispensable weapon in the freedom struggle'. MY DANCE IS A WEAPON I HAVE WIELDED FOR MY SURVIVAL. It is though the healing and transformative modality of dance that I curated the Katherine Dunham Dance Stage at Oakland's annual Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival for more that 10 years. I put so much love, care, belief, attention, support, in the careful selection of each company that was brought to the stage. To honor and represent two of the most powerful freedom fighters Katherine Dunham, and Malcolm X, who have had a profound impact on our lives was no light weight task. As one of of the biggest festival in the city of Oakland, well, the Bay Area for that matter, many artist wanted to get on this stage. Each year my choices held the intention of bring dancers and dance companies to the stage that held and demonstrated the power of healing and upliftment, and that were in alignment with and modeled the teachings of these esteemed ancestors.
Please take a moment to watch this mini concert video of some on the highlights of this wonderful event I was a part of. Again, I cry seeing a time when social distancing was not heard of and with such freedom we came together.
#3, being a conduit that all this power has moved through and blessed so many people makes me cry HELLA hard! I am grateful. I had the vision and I pushed it through. I had the support of a powerful team of artist and activist at Eastside Arts Alliance that believed in me and helped to make it happen and it was just one element in a truly incredible annual festival.