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Students Participate in Summer Dance Performance at the ICA

Photo courtesy of Tony Turner

Photo courtesy of Tony Turner

Stefano Amador, Staff writer

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This July, Dorree Ndooki ‘19, along with two Concord Academy alumni, Kinaya McEady ‘17 and Maya Luckett ‘14,  performed Skeleton Architecture: The Future of our Worlds at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts, with 21 other Black and Brown female artists of different ages from Boston and New York.  

Skeleton Architecture involved the recital of Audre Lorde’s essay, Poetry is Not a Luxury. To convey the empowerment and the diversity of blackness, the dancers moved cooperatively, sang about self-love and healing, and danced to Latin music. Some of the movements required trust and cooperation, which the audience applauded for when few of the performers lifted other performers at the climax of the show.

The dancers often shouted “I like silence” in between each movement and portrayed the silence as a tool of rejuvenation. After the show, each of the dancers shared what silence meant to them with one word. All the words collectively expressed the ways silence can be beneficial when you are a part of a marginalized group. The most prominent message of silence the dancers depicted was its strength as a healing force.

Surprisingly, contrary to each of the dancer’s precise act, nothing in the performance was choreographed. The entire performance was improvisational and collaborative, which the performing artist Grace Osborne described, “left the group room for untamed, feral, black creativity.”

Leader of the group as well as performer, Edisa Weeks, gathered the dancers a week prior to the performance, so the women could share their spiritual practices and individual journeys with the group. I was amazed to find out that nothing about the performance was rehearsed. While preparing for the show, the performers spent that week either participating in a yoga class or practicing Native American dance and ‘Social Justice’ dance.

Every new movement the dancers learned during that week, they embraced onto the stage the day of the performance. These unique classes were important because it required the dancers to have an open-mind and allow themselves to be vulnerable. Over time, the dancers became familiar with each other and shared their own unique life stories.  “Everyone was different,” Ndooki commented, “but we all connected on one thing and that was that we were all black women, and we go all through similar struggles.”

Skeleton Architecture: The Future of our Worlds was created to “highlight the power of Black women within the community,” explained Eva Yaa Asantewaa, the curator. The performance was meaningful for both the black women in the audience and the performers as it gave a beautiful example of pure black girl magic. Moreover, the fact that they improvised it made it more memorable. “Even when as black women we are being oppressed, if we support each other, we’ll make our lives easier. In the performance, we were falling and supporting each other,” Ndooki explained. “We don’t have to fight by ourself if we make a community where we can trust one another.”

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Students Participate in Summer Dance Performance at the ICA