“the concepts that shape …” are where I’d have to begin … better yet, “SHAPE!” is where I’d have to begin if you REALLY want to talk about what we do as folklorists, performers, teachers, students etc.
This residency is an opportunity for us to build new models of discussion, exploration, and experimentation around folkloric based performance art forms. It’s an opportunity for us to examine the methods of assessment that already exist inside of tradition as opposed to relying on models that may not take into account the principles by which we have been trained and continue to create.
At first I thought it was all about “the concepts that shape tradition”, but it’s bigger than that. It’s as big as, “the concepts that shape the people that shape our relationships to tradition and the culture that shapes them.” Something as simple as they way we communicate about our form is an incredibly important part of how we are going to carry on these traditions. For example;
If you ask a circle to explain itself, but the circle is only encouraged to communicate in the language of a line or box, will you ever really understand how that circle works or what it’s made of ? And, if the circle is only allowed to explain itself in line or box language, how can an audience of observers begin to understand the principles by which the circle maintains its shape? For that matter, how can the circle ever reach its fullest potential if it’s never even heard it’s own voice.
Navigating through the principle to reach the fullest potential of the shape and teaching an audience to speak “circle” so they can understand the “heart” of the work (or my case the heart of “Ampey!”), is the map for my journey in Performing Diaspora.
he(r)art – piece in rest
“Africa is a fuchsia wall covered in charcoal dust, ten fingers and toes, seven without tips, a man with both arms, but no hands. It’s a thousand smoldering eyes watching every direction from one head at the same time. A white hen died on it’s back. The trailer of a big rig balanced on a perfect diagonal between the curb and street. Nothing fell. Everyone stopped and watched. Black babies w/ fake hair use white dolls as ammunition. White Jesus walks with almost everyone.
There’s a fossit attached to the back of the well. I thought someone had to fill it up by hand when it got empty. Everything doesn’t always have to be so hard. A wheelbarrow turned into a wheelchair/bicycle helps a cripple man move from car to car asking for money. The railroad-crossing bar doesn’t always go down at Abveno, but everyone knows when the train is coming. They all stand clear.
Africa is a streak of light running across a freeway, mangled metal melted into plastic, a black rooster’s cry shredding dawn and crying mourning into my eyes. It’s four beats on the side of the shoes shiner’s box, then a space, a bell, and a coconut man’s kiss in the air while he swings a machete. “Yes Coco.”
An old man carries a sewing machine on his head while playing songs on scissors. Green gourdes with poisonous insides grow under trees where flat leaves hang low. Reading shadows squeezes space into places where there seems to be none. Africa is finally understanding “Black Star Power”.
It IS loving the most beautiful and undesirable things about yourself ALL at one time … “
– an excerpt from “The Ghana Blogs”, Adia T. Whitaker (2008) –
– artwork by: BORISH