Amara Tabor-Smith/Deep Waters Dance Theater

Artist in Residence
Performances THU-SUN, NOV 15-18, 2012 at 8PM
Food Symposium SUN, NOV 18 

Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread

Inspired by a family gumbo tradition, Our Daily Bread is a performance experience that honors individual food legacies and engages all of the senses. This collaboration between Amara Tabor-Smith’s Deep Waters Dance Theater, director Ellen Sebastian Chang and visual artist Laura Diamondstone delves into the folklore and stories surrounding our food traditions to examine how these traditions are impacted by industrialized agriculture, fast food culture and our global food crisis.

Cast and Collaborators of Our Daily Bread: Amara Tabor-Smith, Ellen Sebastian Chang, Lauren Elder, Ajayi Jackson, Guy de Chalus, Dana Kawano, Chichi Okonmah, Laura Diamondstone, Eyla Moore, Stephanie Bastos, Melanie Cutchon, Alicia Walters, Pippa Flemming, Tossie Long, Fe Bongolan, and Zakiya Harris.

Sisters At The Table: Symposium About Women and Food

Engagement Partner: 

La Pena     Mercy Housing                 



SFBG logo        Zellerbach Logo        


Outreach Partners: 

Farms to Grow18 ReasonsLocaphonic, Starchild Entertainment, Women’s Earth Alliance, CUESA,  Banteay Srei, City Slicker Farms

Amara Pic

Amara Tabor-Smith San Francisco born, Oakland based, Tabor-Smith has performed in the work of choreographers such as, Ed Mock, Anne Bluethenthal, Priscilla Regalado, Pearl Ubungen, Ronald K. Brown and Joanna Haigood. Amara is the former Associate Artistic Director and dancer with The Urban Bush Women Dance Company of New York City. She has a background in theater which includes work with Anna Deveare Smith, Herbert Siquenza, Aya de Leon, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, The SF Mime Troupe and Make-A-Circus. She choreographed and appeared as a dancer in Shakti Butler’s documentary film, “Making Whiteness Visible”. She has studied dance with Ed Mock, Cecilia Marta, Ronald K. Brown, Katiti King, Jose Barroso, Anne Bluethenthal, Alonzo King, Aaron Osborne, Rosangela Silvestre and Malonga Casquelord to name a few. She has taught dance, Capoeira and entering community workshops at Naropa University in Boulder, CO., University of Omaha, NE., Columbia College in Chicago, The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM and is currently on faculty at UC Berkeley teaching modern dance. In 2006 she formed her company Deep Waters Dance Theater (DWDT) and is co founder of Headmistress, an ongoing collaboration with movement artist Sherwood Chen. Amara is a 2010 awardee of the Headlands Center for the Arts Artist in Residence grant and has received grants from Theater Bay Area CA$H, Zellerbach Family Fund, CounterPULSE winter Artist in Residency (2008) and CHIME mentorship Exchange (2007).


Amara's Blogs

Digest in Peace: The Beginning…
Nov 13th, 2012

We are winding our way towards opening night this week.

What started out as a conversation with my mother about our gumbo tradition many years ago, has become this little monster of a dance theater piece that has forever changed my life and how I think about food.

With this incarnation of Our Daily Bread my collaborator and director, Ellen Sebastian Chang and I engaged in daily conversations about food; about the difficulties of having a slow enough life to actually put this notion of “slow food” into practice. We continued to deepen our questions about our local and global food systems, our food traditions and the impact our society’s fast modern lifestyle is having on our environment and ourselves.

This lifestyle is troubling for us.

The fast paced, convenience driven lifestyle we have in the USA and in other parts of the earth continues to deplete the quality of our food sources and the environment; This summer saw one of the worst droughts in the midwest, devastating the nation’s corn crops and we all know the devastation that is happening in the east with these strange new and destructive weather patterns. We here in the bay area have only begun to have the appearance of normalcy in our late fall as we were enjoying 80 degree weather for multiple days only a week ago in early November.

And while many folks are still in some elated state because President Obama was re-elected, the under estimated tragedy was the defeat of Prop 37 which if passed, would have required labeling of food containing GMO ingredients in California.

Though this Proposition was not a perfect solution, it had the potential to disrupt the destructive power of corporations such as Monsanto, whose tampering of our seeds, we believe, will ultimately destroy life as we know it.

Whether one believes this or not, we have a long and uncertain road ahead of us.

And it all comes down to Air, Water and food.

In the South, black farmers talk about how you create balance in the soil by planting mixed crops. They plant the three sisters- corn, beans and squash. Squash down beans up corn steady helps us to understand the inter-dependancy of these crops The Corn is the structure which the Beans can climb (so no need for poles) while Beans provide the nitrogen for the soil as the squash grows along the ground blocking the sunlight and thus preventing weed growth and the squash leaves act as a living mulch. The Native Peoples of the Northeast were the originators of this planting. We have forgotten how to live with the Earth but instead we live off the Earth through control and over production.

If we lose the real connections of our nourishment, clean air, pure water, fresh food and relations, we have lost the essence of our humanity, our life force and our souls.

We have become accustomed to having too many choices. As performer and writer, Fe Bongolan has said, “Convenience is a cancer” and this cancer is destroying the environment that has sustained us for thousands and thousands of years.

We believe the genetically modified food industry is the biggest threat to the well being of our food system of all. It is an attempt to control the source of life itself: Our seeds. Environmental leader and thinker, Vandana Shiva refers to this tampering and control of our seeds as “Seed Slavery”.

Ellen and I believe this to be a war against the feminine principle. In virtually every culture, the earth is referred to as The Mother.

We see the inherent link of the war on women with the quest to control our food systems. Many writers and thinkers have believed that women’s oppression began with the advent of agriculture and land ownership. After the earth herself, the first place one eats is in the body of a woman (womb) and our continued assault and pillage of women, of the earth and her resources, will be our ultimate undoing.

On Sunday, November 18th, we will be exploring this topic of Mother Earth, women and food in a symposium titled, Sisters at the Table. This symposium will feature Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, founder of Poor Magazine; Gail Myers, founder of Farms to Grow and many others. The Symposium is hosted by Ashara Ekundayo. It starts at 3-5pm and is free and open to the public.

Our Daily Bread pays homage to our Mother Earth, and though it is a celebration of our beloved food traditions passed down by our ancestors, It also hopes to be a wake up call for us to sacrifice cancerous convenience for the sake of coming into balance with our Mother.

Digest in peace.


And the Pot Thickens…
Oct 30th, 2012

If I had the time it would be better to keep me on track if I would blog every day during this process… but these days are full and there is much to say about what has taken place over the last month so forgive me if this blog is more like a sampler plate, with only a small taste of many ideas…

Since the last blog there have been several food parties that have gone down. We had a food party/writing workshop at La Pena during which the incredible writer/poet/awesome man, Marvin K. White led a workshop where we captured food memories on paper bags and paper plates and then shared these writings. This process was magical. The room was packed and the stories that people shared had folks laughing and crying and everything in between.

The weeks following this included working in Verdese Carter Community Garden out in East Oakland led by the amazing Alicia Johnson. This young woman is powerful and there are beautiful folks, youth and adults who are out there tending this garden where they are growing greens, beans and pumpkins.

Last weekend was the performance, From the Field to the Table at UC Berkeley. This theater piece was the culmination of a five week community engagement process that was led by Paloma McGregor of Urban Bush Women and co facilitated by myself and Lisa Wymore. There were 35 performers who co created this piece, providing stories, songs, movement and video. It was performed over 3 nights to completely packed houses each night. It was a powerful process that reaffirmed for me that there are endless stories about food that need to be told and there are endless ways in which to tell these stories…

And today the ODB crew performed at Acta Non Verba’s Oakland Food Day event out at Tossafaronga Park where they have their garden. A beautiful mixture of kids and adults sharing food, making sweet potato butter, stir frying greens and broccoli, selling kombucha tea and so much more… I felt the power and affirmation of community, connecting to many folks that I know and many more that I am now getting to know.

We are now officially in the fall season and the season of the dead which is one of my favorite times of year… when the veil between realms is the thinnest. My company will be celebrating this ancestor season with spontaneous songs in various locations prior to our upcoming performances at CounterPULSE in November… stay tuned…

I want to shout out to some of the folks who are doing important food work in my Oakland Community who inspire me and whose work should be supported:

Lastly, let me say that it is important that we vote this election. Many things at stake besides the presidency. One is prop 37 which will require labeling of GMO food. Read up on this proposition and make your decision accordingly.

In the meantime, eat well and digest in peace.

Red Beans and ricefully yours…



How many people does it take to make a salad? All of us!
Oct 15th, 2012

We are in full effect with the food parties and gatherings that will lead up to the remount of Our Daily Bread at CounterPULSE coming up this November 15-18. Though I love the performance work, I have to say these parties are what really FEED me! (yes, pun fully INTENDED!)

Coming together with folks in public as well as private spaces to share food, stories and get to know folks in deeper ways is really what it is all about. Food is at the heart of every major issue and experience that we know, whether it is the lack of food, the abundance of food, the love of food, the fear of food- it is the essence of everything. The only thing more important than food for our survival is water- and that is a whole other topic that I will save for the next blog entry…

September 22nd was the first day of fall, and my Deep Waters Dance Theater crew in collaboration with The Luggage Store Gallery, CounterPULSE and participants from the UC Berkeley project titled, From the Field to the Table. All of us came together for a Fresh From the Oven Food Party in the Tenderloin National Forest where we made some giant salads together. We subtitled this Fresh from the Oven Food party: Falling together; in honor of the changing of the season and the spirit of coming together to share food. The salad idea was inspired by a conversation I had many years ago when I was interviewing folks for the first incarnation of Our Daily Bread. I interviewed a group of youth from Oakland Technical High School. They all had these beautiful and painful stories about food, and one that stuck with me in particular was from this young man who talked about his experience as a little boy living in a housing project back east. He shared his memory of how on Fridays everyone who lived on his floor would eat “Slumumbo”. He described Slumumbo as Slum Gumbo- a stew that was made up of ingredients that each resident on his floor would add to the pot. Everyone family on the floor would provide one ingredient to the pot, they would choose one family’s kitchen to cook it in, and then-everyone would eat.

This image and the way this young man recounted the experience stuck with me so profoundly. He had a huge smile on his face as he shared it and such a sense of longing for that experience as well. He ended it by sharing that though his family was economically in a difficult place in those times, he really missed the bond that was created with his neighbors through those meals….

Tangent #2- so, in addition to remounting ODB with my company Deep Waters Dance Theater, I am also working on a five week community engagement project which is being produced by UC Berkeley through the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. It is being led by Paloma McGregor, a long time performer/member of Urban Bush Women and a fantastic facilitator of UBW’s community engagement work.

This project that I am co facilitating along with UC Berkeley Professor Lisa Wymore is titled, From the Field to the Table (FFTT). During this five week process, participants (made up of both UC Berkeley students and community members) have been learning UBWs principles for entering community, learning about food justice issues and most recently had a two day intensive undoing racism workshop with members of the People’s Institute for Undoing Racism and Beyond.

Getting back to this past Saturday (I come from a long line of tangent Queens and kings!)- I wanted the Fresh from the Oven food party to have a theme that would connect all these folks that would be there together. So, as I remembered the story that this young man told me some years back, I decided we would make a Salad together in the forest!

When I first announced this theme to the participants in the FFTT workshop who I knew would be coming to the forest (most of them for the first time) most people had questions about how this would happen.

“you mean we’ll make the salad in the forest?” asked one young woman

“yep” I answered

“How will we do it?” someone else asked

“I have cutting boards, knives and a great big salad bowl” I answered

“How much should we bring?” someone else asked

“Just bring one ingredient for the salad or to make a dressing” I answered

There was some disbelief it would be enough. I too wasn’t sure..but I decided to trust the story I heard so long ago and see what would happen.

Saturday rolled around. The day was beautiful…sunny, warm, with the sun doing it’s transition thing that it does once fall rolls around. And the TL Forest was and is, breathtaking. If you have never been there, you must check it out:

Darryl (Luggage Store Gallery co-founder and my big brother) got the brick oven heated up, DJ fflood set up the music, I set up the cutting stations for the salad, Travin Mckain who is a current artist in residence in the TL Forest (and an amazing human being!) picked beautiful and fragrant herbs that we put in the water where people washed their hands.

Then the folks showed up and we made salad!

It was amazing. Kids from the neighborhood helped out, folks brought ingredients and we made this huge and delicious salad. There was enough for everyone. There was a mixture of folks who lived in the neighborhood and folks who had never been to the TL Forest before.

It was simple and profound…the connections that are made when people cook then eat together cannot be understated. It has a healing effect that cannot be explained other than food + connection= changes lives…

Our connections to one another is important. Our food is important.

Speaking of changing lives, vote yes on prop 37 this November. This state proposition that would make it mandatory Label GMOs in our food- has the potential to have a global impact. Educate yourself on this issue and vote!

Look out for DWDT appearing in an internet advertisement in support of Prop 37 campaign.

More to come…


Red Beans and Ricefully yours,




Join us for Our Daily Bread’s “Seeds to Sprouts” youth showcase
May 2nd, 2012


It’s 2012…Let’s EAT!!!!!
Feb 15th, 2012

Happy New Year of the Dragon!

We are mid way through the first month of 2012 and have arrived in this New year of the Water Dragon…

The Dragon year is special as it represents prosperity and abundance. Typically in our society the idea of prosperity leads us to think about money. But ultimately Prosperity is about food. It is about being able to eat. You cannot survive any significant length of time without food and you cannot eat money.So prosperity is ultimately about being able to EAT.

Last year my life was changed by “Our Daily Bread”; the dance theater piece I made about food, food traditions and sustainability which premiered at CounterPULSE this past April. I hoped that it would have an impact on the audiences that came to see it and I also knew that I too would be impacted by the experience as well…but I could never have imagined how much I would be impacted. I won’t recap that experience here (you can check out previous blogs right here to get that story)…
But what I will say is that since the making of “Our Daily Bread” all of my work involves not just eating, but being fed…nourished….

The fall of 2011, my company Deep Waters Dance Theater embarked on a series of EAT actions, inspired by our commitment to the post “Our Daily Bread” experience and the blooming occupy movement. In addition to our commitment to having regular EAT-Ins where we gather people together to share a meal and talk about food- We have created a project called EAT which stands for- Everybody At the Table, Everyday At the Table.

Our manifesto (which is still a work in progress) states that,”… we believe everybody has a right to be completely nourished. Food is nourishment for the body and Art is nourishment for the soul….” This, we believe is the right of every human being. We also believe in the right of every human being “…to have sufficient time to eat a home cooked meal at the table with family and/or members of one’s community on a daily basis..”
So we began our EAT actions. These actions involved us collectively cooking a pot of some sort of stew that was vegan (not because we are vegan, but because we wanted to feed EVERYBODY) and then we took to the streets, showing up at occupy Oakland events (Our company is based in Oakland) and feeding people with food, songs and dance. We have also embarked on a project with CounterPULSE and Catholic Charities Organization where we are collecting food stories from residents at 10th and Mission Housing and Edith Witt Senior housing on 9th and Mission. This collaboration includes a focus on working with the youth who live and attend an after school program at 10th and Mission housing. The culmination of this work will be a short documentary film shot by Erica Jordan about these residents who have been living here for just under 2 years. In addition our work with youth will culminate into a youth version of “Our Daily Bread” where young people will tell their own stories about food. Look for the results of this effort to be performed at CounterPULSE this coming May. This is the first (albeit short) in many blogs to come that will document this new journey. I encourage you to make a commitment in this new year of the Dragon, to eat regular home cooked meals at a table with yourself, family and/or friends/community.
And take…..your…..time……
in this new year, make sure to

Thank you’s, a poem and a recipe…..
Apr 27th, 2011

This past Sunday was our final performance of, “Our Daily Bread” at CounterPULSE. After a two week run which included 8 sold out performances and one show for students from Mission High School, I am still feeling the overwhelm of such a wonderful, ass kicking, joyous and painful experience that was the making and performing of this work. It has been a journey that felt so right to complete it where it all began-at CounterPULSE. The process was magical in the way that I believe magic really works. Not the Hollywood version of magic where everything sparkles, angels sing and a shaft of white light that speaks to you in a loud booming white male voice telling you what to do next. No, it’s the kind of magic where I thought I was up to my neck in what felt at times like a pool of shit wondering whether I should be worried that I would drown in this mess. But somehow I managed to surrender and accept that the pain of this process must be what it is supposed to be. Ultimately I believe that magic is really just a manifestation of faith. The beauty for me in this experience was the deep connections and sense of family/community that was made between all of the artists involved in this piece, everyone of which reminded me on a daily basis that some how we would get through it. Everyone involved surrendered to their ancestors who really guided this piece from the beginning. Andrew Packard and Erica Jordan’s video, Dana Kawano’s costumes, Laura Diamondstone’s Lobby installation, Lauren Elder’s Set, Ajayi Jackson and Guy de Chalus making music and Ellen Sebastian Chang being the daddy and directing this piece. Then there was the crew; Chichi, Del and Alejandro holding it down in the theater. And of course the performers; Stephanie Bastos, Eyla Moore, Alicia Walters, Adriel Eddo, Aimee Suzara, Pippa Fleming and Elizabeth Summers committing themselves completely in this work. And then there was the beautiful sense of community in the audience. There were familiar faces and there were faces that felt familiar. And by the end of every performance, I felt like the family grew. Folks hung out after each show to eat more blackeyed peas, write recipes on the wall in the lobby, help wash the dishes in the kitchen and sometimes drinking up the rum (as guests in the house do at times! I ain’t mad! it means they felt at home!) I am so filled with gratitude for this experience and everyone who I have come into contact with during the making and performing of this work, and all who supported the whole process. And it really began with CounterPULSE.

Honestly, without the absolute support of CounterPULSE in the making of this work from it’s beginnings as a work in progress 2 years ago, this piece never would have happened. Big ups to Jessica Robinson Love, Shamsher, Julie, Kat, Del, Mariana, Grace and Randy for being so gracious and enthusiastic in their support, stopping their work in the office to break bread with us which was an important part of our creative process.

This process continues to teach me so much about what community really means. The food we served during the show was cooked by me in my kitchen fresh each day before the performance.. This was extremely important to me and somehow through my exhaustion, I was always invigorated by this ritual. Everyday before the show, I would get up, go to the farmer’s market and get fresh berries and vegetables for the blackeyed peas and love bread that was served during the show (oh and yes, it was all vegan and all organic). Vegetables that we cut during the show, were then washed and cooked up for the show the following night. My hope with this piece was for people to have the experience of being fed and to leave thinking deeply about the food they choose to eat. It is something that I continue to try and commit myself to deeper everyday….

The last week of our show marked the one year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the gulf and I was reminded of how we must continue to develop deeper consciousness about how everything is connected. Industrialized farming and agriculture relies heavily on fossil fuel…eat local…have reverence for your food and where and how it comes to your table…Let your reverence for your food and the earth it comes out of be more important than whether it is cheap, quick and convenient….

We hope that we have the chance to continue to evolve this work and share it with more audiences in the future..there are many food stories to tell and we are grateful for all the wonderful people that shared their food and food stories with us in the process. At the bottom of this blog you will find a recipe for the blackeyed pea stew that I created for this show. It is written in the style of my Louisiana ancestors who never measured anything..just feel it…

I want to close this blog with a poem written by the beautiful poet Joy Harjo. Thank you Macklin for reminding me of this beautiful piece…


Perhaps the World Ends Here


The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.


The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.


We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.


It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.


At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.


Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.


This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.


Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.


We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.


At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.


Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Digest in Peace ya’ll,


Recipe for
Onile’s New Day’s Black eyed Peas (inspired by New Year’s Black eyed Peas)

Note- this recipe will feed a small army so adjust accordingly but in the spirit of community, make it as is and invite your all your folks to partake!

15 large handfulls of dried blackeyed peas
2 bunches of collard greens (kale or other greens can be substituted)
4 large onions chopped real good!
2 heads of garlic chopped so fine!
8 carrots cut in thin circles
1 head of celery (or is it a bunch of celery?) chopped fairly fine
2 bunches of Cilantro chopped fine
liberal amounts of cumin (one small handful)
Salt to taste
1 can of coconut milk
enough safflower oil to cover the bottom of your pot

Wash all your veggies real good then get to cuttin’!
while you are cutting your veggies, put your blackeyed peas in a pot and cover with water and bring to a boil. Make sure there is more than enough water as your blackeyed peas will expand. Chop onions, garlic, carrots, celery and cilantro as noted above. Separate the veggies in different bowls; onions and garlic together, everything else in their separate bowls. Take your collards or which ever greens you choose and roll them length wise then chop them fine. Set aside.
After you finish chopping all your veggies, drain your blackeyed peas which should be boiling by now and have expanded somewhat. Drain them in a colander and leave them there. Clean out the pot and set it on the burner on medium/high heat. Add your oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Pour in the onions and garlic, stirring the whole time. Make sure not to let them brown. Next add your cumin, cilantro, salt and keep stirring. slowly add carrots and keep stirring not letting anything burn, adjusting the flame as necessary. once the onions soften, add the black eyed peas and a little more salt and cumin. continue to stir. Once all of the vegetables are integrated start to add water little by little, stirring the whole time. Make sure to only add enough water to cover the mixture but not to make it soupy. Once there is enough water to cover the mixture, add the celery then cover with the flame on high. Check often. Once the mixture starts to simmer, add the collard greens which should be thin enough as to appear shredded. Stir until the greens are fully integrated. Turn heat on high and let it come to a boil. Taste the stock often adding salt and/or cumin to taste. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the flame down low and let simmer for approx. 30-40 minutes. Check often during this time and add water if it appears dry but be careful not to make it too soupy as your coconut milk will round out the stock. After simmering for 30 minutes, add the coconut milk stirring well then let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes making sure not to let it boil.
Serve with or without rice or hot sauce but always with a lot of love!

Reflections on the opening weekend of “Our Daily Bread”
Apr 20th, 2011

Reflections on the opening weekend of “Our Daily Bread”

This past Thursday, Our Daily Bread opened to very supportive and enthusiastic audiences. It was an amazing experience filled with love, food, exhaustion and the absolute commitment of all of the performers and creators who were integral to this experience. Laura Diamondstone created a magical environment in the lobby of CounterPULSE which really set the tone for the evenings experience. The first day I walked into the lobby while she was installing, I cried…it brought me back to my grandparents house and I was overwhelmed with memories and a longing for their kitchen which is where my family always congregated in their house on Berendo St. in Los Angeles.

And it that was only the beginning..

so many elements make up this piece- Lauren Elder created a set that brings our ancestors into the space. Dana Kawano put so much color and love into not only the making of the costumes but by her mere nightly presence with us. Erica Jordan and Darl Andrew Packard put so much thought and heart into the video element of this work. Ajayi Lumumba Jackson and Guy de Chalus play live, bringing us back and taking us forward with the music. And then there is our director, Ellen Sebastian Chang whose very presence has been grounding for us and who is the smartest and most deep thinking person that I know….

Then there are the performers- Aimee Suzara, Elizabeth Summers, Pippa Fleming, Stephanie Bastos, Eyla Moore, Alicia Walters and Adriel Eddo who have worked so hard and been so committed and poured so much love into this project…This is our family and this piece is our prayer…

This past week, we were told that due to changes to the city fire codes, part of the lobby installation that Laura Diamondstone created, would have to be removed. This part of the installation was very special to all of us and made us so very sad to lose…Ellen said that we should think of it at symbolic for the traditions that we lose, that we can only hold in memory..posted here is a of photo of that Gazebo that would greet you as you walked through the CounterPULSE doorway…we miss it very much…

Please come out and break bread with us this final weekend….

digest in peace,



Audience Reactions to Our Daily Bread
Apr 14th, 2011


The food chain is only as strong as the weakest link…
Apr 4th, 2011

The food chain is only as strong as the weakest link and other thoughts leading up to this monster called, “Our Daily Bread”


It has been a minute since my last post and sooooo much has happened. The artistic crew who are conjuring this work, Our Daily Bread celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s day and Mardi Gras this year by having an Eat-In in the middle of the afternoon of Tuesday, March 8th. MJ’s Brass Boppers kicked it off by parading a second line for 3 blocks. We started at 8th and Mission and went up to Market St., went down Market to 9th and then snaked around the corner to end up in front of CounterPULSE on Mission at 9th, where they continued to play and we danced up a storm! Shoot, we would’ve paraded for more blocks but seeing as I didn’t have a permit and all, we figured we would go short to avoid possibly being shut down…

At any rate, we finished the celebration by potlucking in CounterPULSE where we ate REAL good! The incredible Bryant Terry showed up and made this incredible ginger bread that will be featured in his new cookbook coming out soon! Folks brought all kinds of goodies; homemade crepes, soups, salads and of course I made recession stew and Jamaican cornbread which I am about to switch up so folks don’t think it’s the only thing I make…

It was a great day which you can catch a glimpse of on the beautiful video Erica Jordan made that’s on the DWDT homepage and is on the CounterPULSE website. It was quite a celebration.

Then, that Friday, Japan got hit with an earthquake and Tsunami and for me- everything changed even more…

Listen… the making of this piece, Our Daily Bread has been life changing for me and my work as a choreographer and performer. I have long been an artist whose work is rooted in addressing issues of racism, spirituality, environment and culture. But making this piece, Our Daily Bread has changed everything for me…it could be the last piece I make with Deep Waters Dance Theater…Food.Is.Everything.

I realize in writing this that I am jumping around… I am not a linear thinker so forgive me if this is frustrating but I come from a long line of tangent driven story tellers who will always tie everything together in the’s our way….

You can go back to earlier posts to get a sense of what brought me to the point of making this dance theater work so I won’t repeat it now. But what I will say is I had no idea when I embarked on this journey where it would take me, how it would conjure up senses, tastes and feelings within me that I never knew possible. The stories people have shared with me; from food parties at CounterPULSE,  in homes in the Bay Area, Brasil, New Orleans, Senegal and  dance studio lobbies to Mark D’acquisto’s economics class at Mission High School- I am forever changed and I know I have yet to scratch the surface.

What I know is food is love, food is life….

So what the hell are we doing?

Our disconnect from the sources of our food, a chain which includes, first and foremost the earth, the way so much of our food is grown or raised then killed, the people that do it, the way it is processed, packaged, sprayed, transported- How are we complacent about the way this all goes down?

As my wise friend Fe Bongolan says, “Convenience is a cancer”.

Now the Nuclear meltdown in Japan.

Please do not talk about natural disasters. Nature did not make nuclear power plants which are all over our planet, including our Shaky State of California.

This has everything to do with food. Radiation from the melt down (call it what it is) is seeping into the soil near the plant in Japan. It is also being detected in the ocean. Eventually it will infect the fish and seafood that people eat (if it hasn’t already) and is a huge staple in the Japanese diet.

This is one earth/home…we are all affected…and so is our food.

I am so angry that I let this happen. The nuclear melt down, the gulf oil spill, the death of farm workers working in the fields in inhumane conditions and all of the ways that my mindless eating and food choices has supported the destruction of this planet.

Yet I am trying to be compassionate. First to myself as someone who is trying to change habits that are destructive to our home/earth, and then to others….

I am making a dance that hopefully reflects this journey about food.  I have been praying a lot in this process…I don’t know how this work will be received but the process has been an awakening that will continue for me beyond this show. What I do know is that in the tradition of my African and Native American ancestors, dance expresses not only our joy but our grief and determination to get through some how and this is how my artistic collaborators and myself are continuing to approach this piece…

I think that is what this piece is really about- how to get through this and survive…

Give thanks, be thoughtful and eat well.

Red beans and ricefully yours…



Brass band to the Mardi Gras Eat-In
Mar 8th, 2011