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POSTCARDS: Karisma Jay's Short Film "CROWN" Celebrates Black Hair

POSTCARDS: Karisma Jay's Short Film "CROWN" Celebrates Black Hair

By Karisma Jay

Published on July 30, 2023

One thing we all remember on our young dancer journey is the  moment when our dance teacher told us to put our hair in the Infamous "Bun" for the first time. If your hair was/is anything like mine — thick, bold and curly — boy was that a challenge!

When I was growing up, there were not many options in terms of hair products that could tame my Fro. Thus, my mom and I spent countless hours trying to lay my hair down and get my hair into a bun that would stay. And let's not even talk about those dance pieces that required all the dancers to have the same slick, straight hair, shiny "Bun" (notwithstanding any dancer of color whose hair was textured and not straight like that of the other dancers). Suffice it to say, when it came down to the Bun, I struggled.

introduces  Kennedy Salley, a former AbunDance Academy Student

My name is Karisma Jay, MFA and I’m a dancer, dance teacher, and Founder of AbunDance Academy of the Arts, located in Brooklyn, NY.  My newest project CROWN, a short film that I co-wrote and co-directed with my NYU college classmate, Love Nafi, MD, premieres on Sunday July 30, 2023 from 6 to 9pm at Old Greenbelt Auditorium in Greenbelt, MA. 

Inspired by the C.R.O.W.N Act which stands for "Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair," CROWN the film tells the story of an aspiring young Ballet dancer trying to tame her hair into submission as she embarks on the most important audition of her life. Loosely based on my own hair tales, CROWN aims to celebrate and amplify Curls, Kinks, Frizz and Afros everywhere while encouraging everyone to honor their CROWNS! 

Featuring Nirine S. Brown of Donald Glover’s SWARM, Tyler Perry’s Ruthless and Abbott Elementary, CROWN introduces Kennedy Salley, one of my AbunDance Academy students who is also a freshman dance major of LaGuardia High School (The Fame School and my alma mater) — talk about coming full circle! 

CROWN is relevant and so timely because so many dance institutions and organizations like AbunDance are working hard to implement diversity and inclusion daily. At AbunDance, we celebrate our students from all backgrounds and experiences. We teach our students about their history and educate them on the sacrifices of those who have come before us. With our work, we create a safe space for students of all ages to feel welcome and important.

Given the discrimination people of color face daily, hair discrimination is one of the most prevalent and prominent. Especially in the dance world, there are countless European aesthetics that create trauma and perpetuate exclusivity instead of inclusivity. CROWN is here to help change that, one Fro at a time!”

CROWN introduces  Kennedy Salley, a former AbunDance Academy Student

CROWN is an opportunity to redefine black beauty and representation in the film industry and showcases the creativity of the black hair experience. With a supporting cast of New York natives and working performing artists, Original music by Agyakomah compliments the film throughout with RnB/Soul and elements of Afrobeats, Jazz, Pop and Funk.

With the film, we hope to foster many conversations surrounding hair and texture equity in the dance world. The requirement of pulling one's hair back into a bun, quite often, in many Black and Brown households, incites discomfort, tension, anxiety and even hair trauma. When a dance teacher or choreographer mandates everyone's hair to be uniform, the BUN becomes the Opponent (think Locs, Twists, Braids or various textures of the individual dancer's hair). We can even go a step further to ask what happens when the dancer's hair length cannot be put into a bun?

All of these questions (and more) will be discussed following the CROWN screening, with a panel discussion and talkback moderated by Dr. Nadia Marie Sasso, Director, Creative Producer and Mompreneur. The event will also include our Live DJ, DJ KAYBHART and a Live Vocal performance by Indie Afro-Fusion Artist Agyakomah. 

To attend the film premiere, visit CROWN DMV for tickets.

For the most up-to-date information on AbunDance Academy of the Arts programming, follow us via the below links and visit for information.

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