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Rituals of Resistance

Rituals of Resistance photo 1This fall, 29 Spelman Dance Theatre company members ‐‐ 28 Spelman students and 1 Morehouse student ‐‐ performed “Rituals of Resistance” in the tent outside of the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center.

Expertly lit by Andre Allen, Spelman Department of Theater & Performance faculty member and owner of Blacklight Productions, the tent housed an evening of interconnected dances that immersed the audience in a full sensory experience. Junior dance major Zoe Carter created a welcoming storybook set piece and a Spelman Dance Theatre sign using a laser cutter in the Innovation Lab. Presented by the Department of Dance Performance & Choreography, “Rituals of Resistance” featured original works by three faculty members, two guest artists, and three students. Audience members packed the tent on both was a standing room only experience.

Rituals of Resistance photo 2Each work was a nod towards the rituals and practices of resilience, resistance, and ultimately, healing. From guest artist Danielle Swatzie's celebratory “Milk & Honey” to Lyrric Jackson's “Psychedelic Strut: Red Eyes,” a rebellious meditation on childhood trauma and parental gaslighting, the evening took audiences and performers alike on a powerful emotional journey.

Guest artist Tambra Omiyale Harris said her work, “In My House” places us inside of the “gazes, arms, and presence of our sisters and brothers, allowing us to testify, release, set boundaries, and cast away negativity." Hawkins' “Consideration” explored the intricacies of emotional growth with slick floorwork and complex ensemble patterning. My works “We Are” and “Roxanne Everlasting” were crafted in collaboration with the Advanced Contemporary Modern class. This semester, the students were tasked with developing fictional characters and creating movement studies based on writings, embodiment exercises, and improvisational exploration. Student dance majors Zoe Carter, Kaitlyn Nelson, and Tai Livingston expanded on these character studies to create solos for Rituals of Resistance.

Rituals of Resistance photo 3As Director of the Spelman Dance Theatre, I'm especially proud of the strong Spelman dance legacy represented at the concert.
Faculty choreographers Hawkins (Spelman class of 2010) and Lyrric Jackson (Spelman class of 2013) are both SDT alumna and are now dance faculty members. Guest artist Tambra Omiyale Harris was a Spelman Dance Theatre company member in the mid 1990s and has since taken over directorship of Giwayen Mata, the African dance, percussion, and vocal ensemble founded by our own Sister Omelika Kuumba.

Music by Tendayi Kuumba (Spelman class of 2010), an internationally recognized singer and Broadway performer, was featured in Hawkins's work “Consideration.” Upheld by the students who contributed their creative voices to the evening, this legacy is a testament to the mission of Spelman dance: to nurture the next makers ‐‐ the choreographers, creators and innovators ‐‐ in the field of dance and beyond. I'm so proud of what the students have accomplished this semester, it was a joy to be able to share their hard work and talent with so many members of our community.

~ Kathleen Wessel, MFA., Director of Spelman Dance Theatre


Photo Highlights: Rituals of Resistance

Rituals of Resistance Collage

Video Highlights: Rituals of Resistance



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