The Dance Enthusiast Celebrates Black Choreographers:
"Dance is my medicine ... Dance is the fist with which I fight the sickening ignorance of prejudice. Instead of growing twisted like a gnarled tree inside myself, I am able to dance out my anger and frustration." Pearl Primus
My Own Private Black Swan with Raja Feather Kelly
Raja Dives Into the Reality of a Major Dance Challenge...
My Own Private Black Swan
raja feather kelly for The Dance Enthusiast
|raja feather kelly in center with fellow cast-mates from David Dorfman Dance; photo courtesy
David Dorfman Dance
The pictures here are both of me. (I imagine you're figuring that out already.) One is a picture of me in the work of David Dorfman Dance’s Prophets of Funk. The work is inspired by and uses music of the 70’s funk group, Sly and The Family Stone. (Think Everyday People, or Dance to the Music.) The second picture of me is in Seattle-based dance and visual art company, zoe | juniper; who’s work, A Crack in Everything, is highly conceptual and built up of impossible images and wicked physical contortions. Though there are no love quests; no princes, no real swans or metaphors for swans; surely no bloody suicides; no Wynona Ryder or Natalie Portman; definitely no Raja Feather Kelly on pointe and unfortunately no CGIs--- going between these two works has made me feel as though I have a split-personality.
I will soon enter my third year with both David Dorfman Dance and zoe | juniper. I remind myself of how lucky I am daily. Dancing between these two companies has been incredibly fulfilling and rewarding because they both epitomize respect and allow me to realize my urges as a mover and an artist. While both companies use extremely athletic and demanding choreography, I am required to be more jovial than dark for David, and more carnal and less witty for Zoe and Juniper. With that said, what is most important to me is that David, Zoe and Juniper foster collaborative environments and cultivate a humanness that is unique to their work.
|raja feather kelly dancing with zoe I juniper; photo © Christopher Duggan|
As I mentioned in my very first post, if I am not touring, I can spend up to three weeks on one coast before spending another three weeks on the other. This allows me to re-route my thinking and my habits as well as to ignite stored muscle memory. With all this back and forth-- plus wig and gold leafing-- the one thing I have been trying to avoid comes to fruition this January. I will have to perform both works in the same city on the same day. Cue: DUN DUN DUN! Leaving my body out of this for one moment, I don’t know how my brain will get through it.
Do you get it now? I am having my own private BLACK SWAN dive into the reality of a major dance challenge. This should be televised. (Kidding!) But really, imagine having to pretend to be Samuel L. Jackson in Shaft and then Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Pulp Fiction is the only common denominator, and I don’t know what kind of dance that looks like. (Though it might be how I feel at the end of the day.) I do accept the challenge though, and I guess it was bound to happen. Have I been training for this moment the whole time? Cue: Kelly Clarkson’s, A Moment like This... (Joke)
Okay, so Staayy Tuned...