Thursday, August 30, 2007
OSA 63, Tuesday, June 19: Experimenting with some sunset leaps at my favorite movement playground, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC
What type of dance is that?
Is that supposed to be some sort of exercise or something?
Are you doing Tai Chi?
I know you not on crack! See other people might think you on drugs or something, but I know you doing that dance...that moder-ryn dance!
OSA 88, Saturday, July 14: Moving my hips in tune with the Atlantic Ocean, Ft. Lauderdale Beach, Florida, Sunrise
Are you homeless?
Can you do that in my house?
I used to dance like that!
Why you don't put a cup out here and collect some money!
Can I take your picture?
Is that balle-ray or something?
Pre-OSA, April 14, 2007, doing Cosmic Booty Roll with sisters at a house party
How old are you?
Do you just do this everyday?
How do you make money?
What your boyfriend say about all this dancing?
Can I get some of your water?
Where are you from?
OSA 31, Friday, May 18: Dancing "Funky African" at the Potter's House artists sharing, drummers, Takada and Colivia
Is that African dance?
You African? (a question, not an affirmation)
Was you the one dancing down at the Malcolm X Park...yeah I seen't y'all...Y'all sure can dance!
You go to that dancing school up there?
Can you teach me to do that?
How long you gonna be dancing out here?
I see you girl...you working it...y'all see her working it!
Pre-OSA, Feburary 11, 2007, Activating stiff space while dancing beside a seated crowd as Elegua, an all-female Afro-Venezuelan ensemble, sings
Go on! Don't never give up...DO IT! DO IT!!!
Look, honey...she's dancing?
So can I dance with you?
Friday, August 24, 2007
the movement sways me
I bang my soul up against the harsh words
we speak to one another
my spine shrinks
as I dip into a safer space
to a time when men did not call me bitches
closing my eyes, I imagine
my enthusiasm for life
than the anticipation of a blow job
wishing I could jump a little higher
up into the protection
of indigenous grandmas and griots
circles of trust
communities of accountability
longing for the time when
rocking hips conjured celebrations of life
I bend low to the earth
via the concrete
I visualize the green that used to be here
under my jumping toes
giving thanks for the life
of the dance
for continuity despite obstructions of sanctuary
A man one day had one eye. Puss gathered in and around it. His smile was crooked and gave way to broken, yellow teeth. He asked me to dance in his living room. He said for $75 that I couldn’t beat that. I wondered at his absurdity. I wondered at why I still danced there. I had drawn a circle on the ground with water from my Deer Park bottle. I danced inside the circle, and he never entered it. He stood from afar hurling perverted comments at me. I kept dancing. I asked him if his own daughter, who he said was a singer, (and who was apparently older than me), performed naked for $75. He ignored the question. I kept dancing.
This encounter disturbed me, angered me for a long time. Why did he have to taint my sacred dance ritual with his trifling jabber? Why didn’t he recognize my goddess-powered, divine, from-the-heavens dance praise worship! How dare he disrespect me. WOULD HE TALK TO HIS MAMA LIKE THAT!?!? I went on like this for days. Angry at anyone who even looked like they would say something nasty while I danced. It took so much energy to always be on guard with my movement.
I gradually came to a space of acceptance of his role in the evolution of my movement. We are all reflections of each other. Whatever I see in him, whatever is ugly and shameful in him, I must first recognize within. This is the painful, extremely essential boundary I had to breakthrough to release the anger and rededicate my dance to its higher purpose. I am not dancing to be “better” than anyone; I am not dancing to pass judgment on others. I began to ask deeper questions, (and still as I write this, I am asking), what in me attracts people who carry that energy? What fears or judgments have I preconditioned in my brain and serve as magnets for that which I despise, which I detest?
I thought of all the drunk and high people who are always the first to speak or “dance” with me on the streets. Their sentiments (not always vulgar or perverse) connect on some very basic level to the source of my movement. They are not afraid of me. They embrace the dance more willingly than most sober people passing by. They celebrate me in a humorous, strung-out sort of way. There is something very real and beautiful, very indigenous to our exchange in those brief interludes. Those times when they are more than just mumbling drunks and I more than just a dancer on the corner. These moments are our sacred portals of transformations, the delicate threshold when we hold the power to share our truth with someone else. How many of us take advantage of the opportunity to really share?
Before I could honor such a sacred bond, ephemeral as it might be, I had to first see myself in every one of them, even in the heart of the man pleading with me to dance in his living room. I had to make peace with the truth that many will come to share in the divine gifts of my dance; just as the tree does not discriminate with its shade, so too is my dance a universal gift of love. A token of appreciation for the good, the ugly, the beautiful, the disgraceful—and every other manifestation of myself I may or may not want to accept.
Photos from preview of Sunday Buffet, a play by Zaccai Free and Binahkaye Joy; here I am performing the character of Breezy Eve, the church crackhead, as she morphs into a dancing priestess.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Central Park @ Summerstage in New York, New York, Angelique Kidjo and Zap Mama concert, 3PM
I yell into the crowd, first with my booty shaking vigorously to drum beats, then with cosmic spins spilling into the crevices nestled within the crowd’s shadows. Some shadows have a low-frequency buzz to them, generated from a subtle knee-rock, or a quiet hip-sway. But most shadows are static illusions of barriers that I trample over with my praise dance. Why are there even forms motionless enough to distinguish in such a vibrant dancing space? I do not comprehend this backwards scene—how anyone communing with the celestial voice of Angelique Kidjo and the mystical rhythms of her band could be standing still is beyond me. I wonder at the collective consequence of our negligence for refusing to be the caretakers of the divine dance in this divinely opportune moment? What becomes of a people so stiff in our movement, so reserved when it’s time to release our bodies the music’s flow? Must we be so out of tune with the planet and ourselves that we perpetuate our confinement with bleachers, gates, and police tape to mark where we can or cannot dance?
Finally, I dig deep into my throat and surprise even myself: “Shake the booty ladies! Shake those fibroids off!” It’s one of those moments when I wonder, “did I really say that out loud?” And, yes, I did! I am so excited for myself, speaking up. I realize I am surrounded by so many women in the crowd, most of whom have no awareness that dancing can help them naturally cure and eradicate fibroids and a host of other dis-eases taking over their bodies. A surge of energy shoots up my body from the ground and my movement grows even more ecstatic with praise. I am so happy that I am aware of my power to heal myself through movement. And even though I already know this, my truths are reaffirmed when I share them in communal spaces.
Some women look at me and giggle. They acknowledge the truth of what I’m saying. If they don’t have fibroids, or breast cancer, or high blood pressure—they know someone, or actually a whole lot of women, who do. And I know they’re going to go home and repeat and imitate what I am doing. I feel good sparking waves of healing with a booty roll. “That’s right, mamas! Shake the booty. FREE THE BOOTY! LET THE BOOTY BE FREE! LET IT GO!” I am laughing with myself now too. More people are looking over my way, nodding in agreement as they contemplate taking me up on the offer to allow the dance to heal their bodies.
Photo: OSA 109, a close up of the sacred booty in orange, at Full Moon gathering, Saturday August 4th
I see some women rocking their hips with a little more intention. Others even move their arms a little wider than few inches allotted by bent elbows. I am blessed to be here and activate the space with these beautiful people today. I see the diversity of movement throughout the people’s dances. I borrow some dances from my new dancing companions. I play with mixing and fusing what I see others doing into the dances moving me. Our open space is an infinite laboratory of possibilities. My dance is an activator of these sacred spaces.
Friday, August 10, 2007
August 4, 2007
St. Stephen Church Auditorium with Ma and Aaron
Last Day of Summer Dance Jam
Give Thanks! I have completed the Summer Dance
My mother is an amazing woman and she tries very hard to support all her children, and other people’s children in everything she does. Just release, I am telling her. She holds all her tension in her shoulders. The weight of a long line of matriarchs resting on her. The pressure of being everything to everyone—wife, daughter, sister, mother, auntie, deaconess, science fair project coordinator for our family’s youngsters, keeper of the DC and PG County library systems, grocery store expert—all of it. She’s tight. We breathe repeatedly. There’s blockages; the same blockages that hinder all of us from living fully at every moment. The hesitation to breathe, the reluctance to release and go with the flow. The tense and stiff muscles we mistake for normalcy. Here, as we dance, we undo those things that no longer serve our elevation into our higher selves.
Again, I say, Ma, let go. It’s only now I realize the totality of the tightness, the tension. I am asking her release millenniums-old, wrapped, tucked, tied, twisted stuff—in one breath no less. She’s moving for all mothers in this moment. She is breathing into belly with all our hands on her stomach for every mother, for every womb-bearing being that has held on so tight, so tight for the sake of everyone else, that they sacrifice their own release. I am breathing with her. Staring into her eyes. Seeing Debra, Mary, Malissa, Martha, and Mary again. Seeing Vashti, Lillie, Laura, Rossie, Charlotte. All these aunties and grandmas and great-grandmas, some of whom I never even knew, now dance with us. They are cheering Ma on, telling her with each deeper exhalation the old wisdom they too learned—it’s okay to let go. Let it go. The dance flows when you let it go.
As I place my hands on her hips to stress which muscle I want her to gyrate, or twist her torso further as she exhales, or walk my feet next to hers so that she gets on the right rhythm, I wonder if she ever dreamed of this moment 25 years ago while she was awaiting my birth. I wondered if she ever imagined she’d be dancing with me, in my open space studio, receiving instruction on how to pump her pelvis, lift her chest, breathe. All these things I learned while dancing around her womb, and now she is relearning them in a new way. Are not all things a big circle. A circle, what goes around, loves back around.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
OSA 73: FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 8:15PM, corner of 14th & Monroe Streets, NW, met one-eyed Lawrence
OSA 74: SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 9:45AM, community dance classes with parents and kids at St. Stephen Church, 9:00pm, Eritrean family celebration in Northern Virginia
OSA 75: SUNDAY, JULY 1, @ 3PM, parking lot of Harriet Tubman Elementary School, Kenyon Street, NW, danced to the colors of the light spectrum, creating movement for each shade
OSA 76: MONDAY, JULY 2, 8PM, choreography workshop at St. Stephen
OSA 77: TUESDAY, JULY 3, 9 AM, St. Stephen church dance warm-up/lesson planning, Family Playground dancing with parents and children, 6:15pm, African Joy dance class and Galaxy Playground with Samaa and Saaku
OSA 78: WEDNESDAY, JULY 4, @ 10AM, in front of my house on Lamont Street, dancing to CD of meditation music
OSA 79: THURSDAY, JULY 5, 6:30PM, Samaa’s bellydance class at St. Stephen Church with Jen
OSA 80: FRIDAY, JULY 6, 8PM, AFRAM music festival, Baltimore, MD beside Camden Yards in the middle of a stiff crowd, dancing to the groove of Fertile Ground and Musiq Soulchild
OSA 81: SATURDAY, JULY 7, 9AM, St. Stephen’s dance classes, and in Philadelphia for Aimamet-t’s Freedom Party @ 11pm
OSA 82: SUNDAY, JULY 8, 4PM, Washington Square Park in New York City, with Monica and Elen with Jazz band, learning Afro-Peruvian dances and playing the “name game”
OSA 83: MONDAY, JULY 9, 8:15PM, choreography workshop at St. Stephen with Tameka, and waiting for hug from Amma at Shirlington, VA Hilton, 11pm and into the next morning.
OSA 84: TUESDAY, JULY 10, 11:15AM, family playground and dance classes at St. Stephen, artists’ galaxy playground with Samaa and Saaku in the evening
OSA 85: WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, noon, teenage dance workshop at St. Stephen’s
OSA 86: THURSDAY, JULY 12, 6:30PM, Samaa’s bellydance class at St. Stephen’s
OSA 87: FRIDAY, JULY 13, 10PM, outside White Egrit condo in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on 33rd Ave to Zaccai’s mbira
OSA 88: SATURDAY, JULY 14, sunrise, inside the Atlantic Ocean, moving to the rhythms of ocean waves at Ft. Lauderdale Beach, experimenting with balance, hip gyrations, and embodying the polyrhythm of water’s motions.
OSA 89: SUNDAY, JULY 15, sunrise, inside the Atlantic Ocean, dancing prayers in honor of my mothers Ft. Lauderdale Beach, and at Lincoln Road Mall in Miami @ 4pm
OSA 90: MONDAY, JULY 16, 1:30PM, home of Kia, and balcony of condo @ 10:30pm
OSA 91: TUESDAY, JULY 17, 6:15PM, dance classes and galaxy playground at St. Stephen Church, choreographing movement for a documentary film, “A Weigh With Words” with Liz, Saaku, Zaccai, Aliyah, and Zakiyah
OSA 92: WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, noon, dance workshop for teenagers at St. Stephen Church
OSA 93: THURSDAY, JULY 19, 6:30PM, Samaa’s bellydance class at St. Stephen Church
OSA 94: FRIDAY, JULY 20, @ 3PM, inside the Sculpture Gardens and @ 7th and Madison on the National Mall
OSA 95: SATURDAY, JULY 21, 9AM, dance workshops at St. Stephen Church, and at Mt. Sanai Hospital in Baltimore, MD, in labor and delivery waiting room @ 9pm
OSA 96: SUNDAY, JULY 22, 10PMish, outside house on Lamont Street, slow, frustrated, stubborn, funky mood and movement
OSA 97: MONDAY, JULY 23, noon, dance workshops at St. Stephen Church
OSA 98: TUESDAY, JULY 24, 10:30AM, dance workshops at St. Stephen Church
OSA 99: WEDNESDAY, JULY 25, noon, dance workshops at St. Stephen Church
OSA 100: THURSDAY, JULY 26, 6:30PM, Samaa’s bellydance class at St. Stephen Church
OSA 101: FRIDAY, JULY 27,10PMish, in front of my house on Lamont Street, waiting for friends to go to dinner
OSA 102: SATURDAY, JULY 28, 10AM, women’s healing dance celebration with Kiki and Carolou, and in Newark, NJ with the newlywed Bellards
OSA 103: SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2:41AM, a club, Hiro, at West 16th & 9th Ave, New York, NY, at ?uestlove party
OSA 104: MONDAY, JULY 30, noon, dance workshops at St. Stephen Church
OSA 105: TUESDAY, JULY 31, 10:30AM, choreography and classes at St. Stephen Church, choreographing movement for mothers in my family for “Spiral Dance,” and “Who Made Mar’Lissa?” dance pieces
OSA 106: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, noon, dance workshops at St. Stephen Church
OSA 107: THURSDAY, AUGUST 2, 6:30PM, Samaa’s bellydance class at St. Stephen Church
OSA 108: FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 6:08PM, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Grand Foyer
OSA 109: SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 10AM, Summer Dance Jam Finale at St. Stephen Church, dance and yoga with my mother
OSA 110: SUNDAY, AUGUST 5, 12:37AM, Creative gathering at Todd Place with artist family, and sunset in front of my house @ 8:14pm
OSA 111: MONDAY, AUGUST 6, sunset, the “Turf” at Silver Spring on Fenton Street, platform of Silver Spring Metro Station and 60 bus stop at Ft. Totten Metro
OSA 112: TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, sunrise, in front of my house, and 10:20pm in front of my house
OSA 113: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, noon, dance workshops at St. Stephen Church, and sunset outside Rock & Roll Hotel on H St., waiting to get into “Can a Sista Rock a Mic?” show, and inside Rock & Roll Hotel
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Thursday, April 19 11:30am
African American Civil War Memorial, 11:30am
Photo: OSA 46 outside Madison Square Gardens, New York, NY, June 2, 2007
Friday, April 20
Outside a Handlebar restaurant, 7:45pm
Saturday, April 21
She-Boom Drum Circle, moving the Greenfest audience, 6:00pm
Sunday, April 22
Corner of W. Huron and Ashburn at abandoned, weeded lot, 7:30am
OSA 6 into OSA 7
Monday, April 23—Tuesday, April 24
Wednesday, April 25
Thursday, April 26
Low frequency, bitter, anger, tears, complaining, jealousy
Friday, April 27
Green Line from Southern Ave Station to
moving in my seat, mad and sad, a woman laughs at me, thinks I’m crazy, today the dance is stifled, my body molded to the patterns of negative thoughts. This is the night I almost killed my movement with my stubborn, self-critical, unforgiving, bitter heart...until I had a dream.
Saturday, April 28
Morning of the revival, I awake thinking I almost died and rejoicing that I am still alive to dance. In the dream the doctor told me I only had 6 more hours to live and I was so scared. How was I going to do 600 days worth of OSA in 6 hours? I fretted and soon an African man came to dance with me. As we danced I got stronger and happier and wasn’t afraid of dying. I awoke renewed with life and emailed lots of people. So many people responded to my testimony and committed to supporting me complete my 600 days. After sending the email, I rushed outside to do OSA. Two teenage girls approached me while my eyes were closed doing the movement prayer, “give thanks.” Blasting me back to the hustle and bustle of
Sunday, April 29
Malcolm X Park, 9am, before kriya
Monday, April 30
Tuesday, May 1
African American Civil War Memorial, 8:48am
Wednesday, May 2
Dupont Circle/Rock Creek Park, near P and 23rd streets, playing dance games with Michael and Samaa, 5:10pm
Thursday, May 3
“The Mourning Commute,” dancing on the Green/Yellow line from
Friday, May 4
Saturday, May 5
Takoma Funeral March, 10:25am on busted-up basketball court at Piney Branch & Cedar roads, NW
Sunday, May 6
pre-drum circle at Malcolm X Park, 1:05pm
Monday, May 7
“Beatboxing at the Back of Ghandi,” with Michael beatboxing rhythms for me to groove to, 21st and Q streets by Dupont Circle @ Massachusetts Ave., 5:32pm
Tuesday, May 8
African American Civil War Memorial, 10:00am, filming for OSA documentary
and @ 14th and U streets, outside McDonalds
Wednesday, May 9
honks, horns, lights, yells, whistles, claps. random man yelling from car: “keep doing it, keep the faith, do what you have to do! Don’t never give up!” Curtis comes to inquire: “Is it yoga? How old are you? How old are you again?”
dancing for DCPS (District of Columbia Public Schools), who is accountable for praying for these schools, for the students, the teachers, the staff, the administration, the parents? all of these schools need an OSA prayer. It comes to me to dance on as many playgrounds and school fronts as possible before school begins again in September.
Thursday, May 10
The Mall @ 7th & Madison Streets, NW, dancing for the standstill of cars in “rush hour,” 8:00am-ish. Wondering: does
Friday, May 11
Carter Baron @
Tenleytown H4 bus stop, 7:11pm
Saturday, May 12
Malcolm X Park, 12:33pm
Sunday, May 13
Mother’s OSA Booty Shuffle at corner of Georgia & Lamont @ 2:30pm. dancing for all the mothers I know, I do a rotation of give thanks movement prayer for each mother past and present and future. knuckleheads at eddie leonard’s carryout yell across
Monday, May 14
Lamont & 11th streets, 10:54pm, the last hour of the day. singing, chanting spinning dancing with zaccai and bhakti. per-a yelling about the power and magic of black people into the windows of innocent, hard-working, sleeping latino families.
Tuesday, May 15
14th & Girard at urine-infused basketball court under the feet of old men and alcoholics, 9:05am. the old men play chess, listen to the radio and ask me what I’m doing. they tell me I’m doing a good job.
Wednesday, May 16
10:01pm Kenyon and
Thursday, May 17
11pm, Kenyon & Park Road, NW, planning sound score for show in my head, practicing different combinations.
Friday, May 18
Open Space Activation @ Potter’s House Show, 8pm
Saturday, May 19
3131 Connecticut Ave, fountain in front of high-rise apartment building & Cleveland Park @ Connecticut & Porter Street, 3:00pm
Sunday, May 20
Artomatic, 8th floor, 4:00pm
Monday, May 21
Tuesday, May 22
waiting for Ellen @ M & 3rd Streets, NE, 9:45 am
Malcolm X Park, 4:00pm
Wednesday, May 23
dancing to laugh counselor Carla’s laughter at Silver Sprung, 5:30pm
Kenyon & Park Rd, 10:00pm
Thursday, May 24
Museum of the American Indian, around 10am
Friday, May 25
Saturday, May 26
11th & Lamont by Arthur’s w/ boxing man in all red, 10:30am
Sunday, May 27
Kenyon & Park Rd, 7:50am
Monday, May 28
National Airport Metro and car rental line, 8:00pm
Kenyon & Park Rd by T-Mobile Store, dancing to Zaccai’s sermon and poetry, 9:30pm
Tuesday, May 29
African American Civil War Memorial, 10:45am
Wednesday, May 30
Union Station, outside main door by the fountain, 9:00pm
Thursday, May 31
Union Station, gate E18 in
Friday, June 1
Saturday, June 2
outside Madison Square Gardens @ 8th Ave & 33rd St, 7:40am; 1E Foyer inside Javitz Center, 12:35pm and autograph line #29 for Deepak Chopra, 2:00pm
Sunday, June 3
11th Avenue between 35th & 36th Streets across from Javitz Center in New York City, 12:35pm, inside Javitz Center at booth 939, 4:20pm
Monday, June 4
dancing with my shadow on
Tuesday, June 5
Green Line Metro platforms @
Wednesday, June 6
Thursday, June 7
Green Line @
Friday, June 8
Saturday, June 9
Emergence Community Arts Collective during a film screening about political prisoners, 6:50pm
Sunday, June 10
Monday, June 11
Tuesday, June 12
African American Civil War Memorial, 7:00pm
Wednesday, June 13
Busboys & Poets, waiting for Elen’s birthday celebration in bookstore area, 8:30pm
Thursday, June 14
Friday, June 15
Saturday, June 16
Sunday, June 17
Malcolm X Park, drum circle, 5:45pm
Monday, June 18
Tuesday, June 19
11th & Lamont, with Zaccai playing mbira in the circle of water he poured onto the concrete, and Lamont & Sherman Ave, 7:00am
Terrace Level of Kennedy Center at Wyclef concert, 8:00pm
Wednesday, June 20
Thursday, June 21
Friday, June 22
Saturday, June 23
Sunday, June 24
Monday, June 25
Choreography Workshop with Fiona, 8:08pm
Tuesday, June 26
Facilitating Family Playground for Summer Dance Jam, 10:15am
Playing “Moving Lightpost” with Hawah, noon
Wednesday, June 27
inside the Lincoln Theatre at free concert by Brother Ah’s World Music Ensemble and Eleggua, back of orchestra level and balcony, 8:00pm
Thursday, June 28
beside and in front of Greater Harvest Baptist Church, 7:30am
Corner of Lamont & Sherman Ave