Three black concentric rings hover like Mama’s chandelier in the foyer; displaying soft light above an empty Joyce Theater stage turned midnight smoky ballroom. The beautiful Black and Brown artists flood the stage; situating themselves in a semicircle to a thunderous applause. They soak in their existence as they see each other, see themselves, smile, see us, see each other again. I immediately feel invited to do the same. My eyes scan the humans on stage and continue through the humans off stage. We, the audience, complete the circle. We, the circle, are the fourth concentric ring and we, too, radiate light for each other in this moment.
This universal light emanating above us was the material symbol for the spiritual call of all who were not physically present: the Afro-jazz ancestors who fostered this continuum, the living who continue to foster it, and the yet to live. ”The Jazz Continuum” ensemble would centralize, embody, and echo this call throughout the entirety of the show. Through their vessels I heard, “We are here, we are alive, we are worthy as we are, and we are excellent. Let us live what we are. Join us.” The physical symbol thus became a dynamic one lived through the performers, and through all who accepted the invitation.
The communal consciousness manifested through the “The Jazz Continuum” ensemble rebirthed ideals for me that I want to share with the Street/Club Dance community. Here, I reminisce about aspects of the work that symbolize a positive moral example of how we should engage with each other, how we should view positive leadership, and how we should interact with foreign communities. In doing so, I hope to elevate the genius that flows through LaTasha and family’s work, and to echo the light I received in my own individual way.
Ideals for Engaging with Each Other:
Black bodies swinging in the sultry sounds of the six musicians. Hanging around like a congregation after service, the dancers take their time grooving in between one another. Catching eyes, Alain Lauture (aka Hurrikane) and Melanie George simmer together; swaying like colorful flowers in the spring breeze. Connection, laughter, and humanity so genuinely substantiates the movement in this moment, and so many moments after. This is who we are. This is what we do.
The ideal this moment offered me— we are enough in every context. When we see one another; when we sit, simmer, and sway with one another; when we lie down and laugh. These perceptively mundane moments are magical and worth being seen by all. Yes, our musicality, dips, jumps, subdivisions, cleanliness, etc. are super dope. Let us also remember that simply existing with one another, and allowing that to move us, is super dope too.
Hurrikane and Melanie’s coupling was the first of many. Some highlighted were partners of significant age difference, and that offered me another ideal— heal intergenerational trauma. I was engulfed within the message as I witnessed the warm exchange between Imani Arrington and Duane Lee Holland Jr. All artists are situated on the stage’s peripheral. Following a moment of low vibrational pause the artist, Imani, glides to mid stage. Her torso sequences like embers floating against a still night sky. Duane— Imani’s elder— eventually trails her. He juxtaposes her quick broken lines with a panther-in-the-grass crawl. His eyes take her in as hers wander within her soul. The chemistry sparks a spiritual light to intermix with the rings above.
These images symbolized the beauty of an elder lowering, maybe humbling, themselves before the next generation. I watched and wondered, ‘what beauty awaits our community as/when/if the relationships between Hip-hop elders and Lite Feet youth heal? What beauty awaits our community as/when/if elders use their power to protect, provide for, and position the youth to take center stage and unapologetically shine? What beauty awaits our community as/when/if elders— especially the Black cis-men— understand that their decision to direct the focus towards the younger generation elevates us all?’ My thoughts are flowing in this way as I witness Imani dwindle down; energetically passing the torch for Duane to blaze across the stage in leaps and bounds. I think, ‘Yes, the elders lowering self for the youth’s elevation forges beautiful behavior for the youth to replicate. How shall the youth know how to engage otherwise?’ Duane lands upstage next to Imani. His spirit flames from the musicians’ fuel as his arms flicker and his hips gyrate. The energy melts down to a wisp as Generation X and Generation Z meet in the middle to wash each other in a sea of smoke. Their arms wave in the others’ negative space as they slowly arise together. Like a Father-figure at a wedding Duane offers his arm, and Imani links hers to it. They walk to join the ensemble on the peripheral, united.
To Be Continued…
So excited to see this from you. Incubation led you to provocative expressions!
Congratulations to us all for having you along our journey.
Thanks Dr. Sue! I appreciate your words of affirmation. Ha, “incubation”. I like that word in describing the last couple of years. I hope the provocative expression has inspired you to continue in your own! I want to hear about yours soon! Congratulations to all of us indeed, I’m blessed to be with you/you all.