Last month, I blogged about a project for BIPOC creatives that entailed collaboration between four pairs of writers and choreographers in which I participated. Left to our own devices to come up with a product, we previewed our work before a live audience in an art gallery setting this past weekend. Because this showcase was billed as a "performance," I thought my participation would be minimal. However, a week before the event I learned that not only would I, your average reclusive writer, be an integral player, but my presence was requested for the question-and-answer session that followed.
After introductions by the project leader to a nearly sold-out audience, I ended up opening the show! I began with a synopsis of how I and my choreographer partner developed our project goals. I then read an excerpt from a personal essay that formed the nidus of my partner's movement concept. Interestingly, none of the collaboration teams knew how the other three teams had designed their projects, and we all ended up presenting a unique performance. The other teams consisted of a dancer and lyricist who sang a beautifully haunting a cappella solo as her dancer performed; a writer who recited a moving poem inspired by watching his two dance partners perform over two practice sessions; and a playwright and choreographer who switched roles and encouraged audience participation to devise words and movement based on artwork displayed on the venue's walls.
After our performances, the project director interviewed the collaborators, and then opened the question-and-answer session to the audience. When invited to expand upon the stimulus for our project ideas, I told of how I pulled out an incomplete manuscript for which I had no tangible venue of publication—a piece that spoke to my first encounters with racism during my preteen years. In contemplating this audience member's question, it dawned on me that my explanation was the exact motivation behind the project's theme—to give voice to creatives who are often marginalized because their work may not fit the status quo.
My partner reiterated his intent to develop a solo dance performance based on my writing to incorporate into his studio's 15th anniversary celebration next spring. So I'm currently brainstorming on something we can workshop together over the next several months.
Perhaps because of the unexpected ovation I received for my reading, but also because the audience seemed fairly impressed with our collective efforts, the evening showcase of our joint works exceeded my expectations. The freedom to express my sentiments was liberating, and I look forward to wherever this collaboration takes me.