Tag Archives: dance

#1 ~ For Colored Girls London

Image by Rosa Johan Uddoh

Image by Rosa Johan Uddoh

November 2012. 11pm. Cambridge. An audience of 50 people, predominantly made up of student journalists and hard-core late night theatre-goers sat in the Fitzpatrick Hall of Queen’s College and waited as an arpeggio in A minor played out to setting blue lights. My production of Ntozake Shange’s ‘For Colored Girls [who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf]’, had landed. Directing, co-producing and acting in the show had many challenges. Yet, when the four and five-star reviews rained in, and the seats filled up to maximum capacity, I could only smile and get ready for three more nights of incredible action as we made theatrical history.

The first time an all black all female cast had ever graced a Cambridge stage, the play follows the lives of seven women identified solely by the colour of their clothing. A combination of spoken word poetry, physical theatre, music and dance ‘For Colored Girls’ is an evocative social critique that gives a piercingly authentic look at urban life through the brash lens of beautifully unrefined poetry. Tackling experiences of rape, domestic violence, infidelity and sisterhood ‘For Colored Girls’  takes its characters and audience on a liberating journey to the end of their rainbows, all the while coloured by a saucy wink of humour and sass, powerful music, dance and that ephemeral attribute referred to as ‘soul’.

So, with all that underway and with people asking for more, I crazily got the idea to take the show to London, my home city. Why not go for gold? Sadly, though I am a creative at heart, a production requires more than just an artistic eye – it requires financing and budgeting. Teaming up with one of the actress, Ifeyinwa Frederick, we sat up till 4am one  night in March and planned this next step in the story – For Colored Girls…London.

For over 6 months we have been planning, contacting, hustling, designing, straining our eyes at computer screens, sending rapid fire emails, lamenting over Nokia 100 phones that don’t have MultiMedia Messaging, all to bring us to this point: the promotional Launch date of For Colored Girls London.

I know I’ve been quiet for a few months since ending the 365 blog, but today, i’d like to invite you to journey with me once again as I direct, act and co-produce in Ntozake Shange’s phenomenal piece of theatre. It’s going to be raw, bloody, exhilarating, exhausting and inspiring – but we’ve done it before.

So welcome to the Death of the Writer, the Death of the Director, Co-Producer and Actress and the Birth of…For Colored Girls London 2013.

Get Excited.

Follow us on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FCGLondon

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FCGLondon

Or : http://www.twitter.com/Justina_Kehinde

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#276 ~ The Watcher at the Threshold

The Creature at the Door, The Bogeyman, The Presence, however it’s phrased these ominous beings have one thing in common – you can’t see them, but they can see you. We strive and strive to penetrate the darkness that Simon and Garfunkel seek to communicate with, yet it is far too elusive, far too…tricksy…and so we give up. We believe we are alone, no one can see us, no one knows us, no one is aware.

Life, I have come to realise is a performance. We speak to be recognised. As we dress ourselves in the morning, however (un)conscious our decisions are, they are decisions, seeking in their own either explicit or implicit way to elicit a response, an acknowledgement, in the least, a thought process.When that doesn’t happen, the sense of our own perceived insignificance can be overwhelming.

I write to be read. I write to be understood. Deep down in the pride filled holes of my heart I hope someone, somewhere cares about my work. I hope it either makes them laugh (where appropriate), or cry. Makes them think, wonder, be inspired, maybe even impressed. So we seek this affirmation, this recognition.

Social media dictates that we deserve not only to perform surgery on ourselves, but let our friends be trainee doctors and bear witness to us systematically removing our innards and splaying them on the stainless steel theatre tables of the World Wide Web. As we partake in this ritual, we are hoping for some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ to escape pursed lips. That fervent scribbling salutes our aural faculties as people write down our updates our posts in the memory bank of their minds. That, they might even venture to ask a question, to drop a comment.

Yet in my experience, often this isn’t the case. We perform to an Asian audience. That is to say, we perform to people who may not applaud at every twirl, but watch, critically until the final curtain call before rising from their seats in rapturous applause and screams. The dancer must keep dancing, even if it is to a silent cavern. If they stop mid twirl, then the comments will never fall, the applause will never be born as hands are kept by their sides, maybe in disappointment, or disinterestedness.

Today I realised, one never knows who their audience is. They may never comment, or like, but they may be methodically and systematically reading, watching, a lurking presence that sees you even when you don’t see them.

As they say in theatre, regardless of anything, the show must go on. The performance only ends at that final curtain call.

So dance.

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#106 ~ One Hundred Words and a Photo : 6

They knew they couldn’t sustain it. Yet the realization their life was finite, that they existed on a condensed amount of time, acted as an accelerant to their powerful ignition. Writhing and rising in a dramatic dance of freedom they contorted their wraith like bodies through the mesh prison that imposed itself on their furious dance for freedom. Desire licked their bodies whipping them into a frenzy as they switched partners, spun twirled soared, melting with the light, creating a burnished glow that singed the very air they leapt through. They only had a few minutes left, stretching for existence.


Victoria O, Copyrighted

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#49 ~ Lyrical Prostitution?

One of  the reasons why I was hesitant to start this blog wasn’t because of my poor time management, but because I’m an English student. I presented the argument that I am harassed daily by literature in all its various forms, I am trained to analyse, understand and reinterpret the written and spoken word, my whole aim is to criticise what has been created. Most of the time I don’t even comprehend what i have read sufficiently enough to analyse it, let alone trying to create something myself every day. But there are those times, like tonight/early this morning, when some of the most banal, base and simplistic strands of the written word can’t help but assault your ears.

It’s one thing to ‘party hard,’ or to ‘get down low.’ To be frank music and movement are almost symbiotically intertwined within human culture. When the beat drops you can’t help but pop (I’m sure one cheesy 90’s rapper used that line, if not they should have.) Yet, as an English student, I can’t help but hear the lyrics that are being blown out of low-frequency speakers and judder to a halt. We all know Rhianna is the ultimate ‘bad girl,’ she’s so bad ass she was once even considered to be good. However, when she asks knowingly “Come on rude boy, boy can you get it up? Come on rude boy, boy are you big enough?” before going on to offer him Captaincy of her ‘ship’ or to be a rider, encouragingly singing “Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up,’ I’d like to think that she is not speaking for me. You know, the hips are swaying, the shoulders popping, you have that ‘dance face’ on, chin slightly raised, eyebrow arched, lips in a little twist at the corner, and if you aren’t feeling it yet, F-off stamped across your forehead for anyone silly enough to get some strange ideas into their heads.

Yet as a woman, even with all these precautions in place – the angry dance face, the group of friends, the  – I don’t speak english – if it gets too far –  I almost feel violated by taking a 2-step to some of these tunes. As though by encouraging whichever singer it is for me to either get up my panty line, run to the window and the wall, or even be a California girl just for the night, I have prostituted and beastialised who I am, and most importantly for me, what it means to be a woman.

I’m stuck in a dilemma. On one hand the desire to be sociable, and to dance to a good tune –  most of these pieces have beats so hot you don’t even notice the lyrics the first 100 times. While I’m teaching the room how to dougie, I have failed to miss until tonight, that Cali Swag thinks all his ‘b*****s love him – and that may involuntarily include me. The unfortunate event occurs however when a) there is an overspill of over zealous men – age is not a factor here – who assumes because one does a little side shuffle it is an invitation for them to embody Rhianna’s Captain, and make any girl who didn’t put her F-off stamp tightly on her head, a victim, or b) the uncomfortably desperate event when girls, lacking a suitable male partner, turn on one another to act out a sexualised dance routine, either for their own pleasure or to incite interest. It’s quite sad. It’s uncomfortable. It makes me wonder whether by simply being there I am condoning the antics, the antifeminist rhetoric that in my daily life, and most of my essays, i am so quick to deplore and challenge.

How do you find that balance. This isn’t an issue for simply modern music, or even worse the stereotypical ‘RnB’ music: women have long been objectified, even before ‘My Girl’ was proclaimed, or men were watching us walking down the street singing. It’s just, as each generation outgrows the ‘youth’ classification, and music evolves like everything else within nature, we continue to be objectified, and to encourage it. I just think, at times, it is to our own detriment.

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#27 ~ Shake that?

I know what you are thinking. You’re looking at the post number and the date and going – they don’t correspond. She missed a day – she lied! Hold that judgement. I did not lie. Neither did I specify that I would do a post everyday before 12am (haha, the beauty of small print), but simply everyday. Considering I haven’t gone to bed yet (power naps don’t count) this post still counts for day 27, but just to appease you, I shall post again tomorrow before 12am.

So here I am, at 2.20am eating cold pasta with home-made haddock and tomato sauce and writing something, this. As interesting as your early morning cuisine is, what kept you away from your systematic posting, I hear you ask through the ether. I was living, is my response through a half-chewed mouth of now slimy carbohydrates and chewy amphibian. And now, I shall deign to explain.

As a student you are told one of two things:

1) Go to University for the experience

2) Go to University for the degree.

If you are a student of african descent it goes more like this:

1) Don’t Facebook face your book

2) Did you got to University to get friends or get a degree? (NB: This is a rhetorical question, there is only 1 answer.)

However, after many involuntary power-naps that I ascribe to the sheer overworking of my mind (allow me some pity), i decided to venture outside the walls of my room and into the cobbled streets below.

I went to watch people dance.

Creepy, is your response. No – you are the creepy one for implying what was not inferred. Control yourself.

I could do an elaborate critique of both the Jazz event, dance show and finally club night I found myself at – intrepid explorer am i, three shindigs in one night, who knew?! – but instead I want to leave your eager eyes with this, concise, valid, and perhaps unique (?) thought:

When people dance, the motion, the action, the intent, isn’t in their bodies. People dance in their faces, and that visage is what tells the story, the figure is what conveys the emotion, their very physiognomy exudes the vivacity, the beauty, the sheer power of entertainment.

Dance isn’t bodily. It is facial.

[insert dramatic pause, for want of nothing better to say]

Go on, I hear you cry. But alas, my optimistic left-overs-for-tomorrows-lunch have found themselves safely into my digestive system and so it is time for me to sleep. To sleep peacefully, with the beat, the pulse and the rhythm etched in the contours of my face.

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