Dances by American choreographers provide unique insight into American history and culture, yet Americans, historically, have not turned to dancers or dance institutions to deepen their understanding of America. In fact, as a culture, we have privileged the visual arts and the word over the performing arts, particularly dance, and turned to literature, paintings, sculpture, and artifacts to tell the story of who we are and from whence we came.
Mapping Arts – Providence reveals the lives, influence, and work of black artists in Providence from the 1860s through the 1960s. The project connects the legacies of artists including painter Edward Bannister, singer Sarah Vaughan, and jazz musician James Berry, who all spent time in the city and shaped its cultural landscape. The hub of the project is a digital map with historical information and images about black artistic influence on Providence.
When I first walked into the UNESCO headquarters in Paris at the very beginning of the summer, stomach in knots and passport in hand, I had never thought I would still be here, five months later. But as fate would have it, here I am…
What gives a place a soul? Is it the people who pass through it, whether for an hour or over a lifetime? The celebrations, the rituals, the community gatherings? The homes, shops, places where “history happened”? Is a place’s soul something that persists over time or transforms? And how do we capture and value it?
After finishing my first year of study at Brown, I headed back to the UK. I caught up with friends and family, enjoyed my sister's wedding, and reflected on the beautiful chaos of the past 12 months. It was a relatively peaceful time and a good base from which to launch myself into my summer adventure: a 2-week solo trip to Hong Kong.
This June, shortly after I graduated, I traveled with American Dance Legacy Initiative (ADLI) to West Palm Beach, Florida to take part in a week-long project studying the works of jazz choreographer Danny Buraczeski. The process gave me a valuable chance to reflect – not only on what business I, an administratively-inclined grad student, had in a jazz dance workshop ten years after my last, never-very-proficient ballet class – but on my work with ADLI and the Center for Public Humanities.
Items discussed:The Public, The Internet, Mapping in general, Mapping Arts Project, research vs. museum and display, Miami, Cuba, themes of migration in contemporary art, African Diaspora, Lose your Mother (Saidiya Hartman), Cuban Coffee, failure at making Cuban Coffee, openness to opportunity, excitement for the year to come.
Have you ever been to the theatre and had a really inspiring experience? You saw a really interesting piece of political theatre and came out burning to talk to your friends about it. You go for a drink and end up banging the table in frustration that you can't do anything about issues in the play. Sure, the play got you feeling engaged and motivated, but so what?
This summer, in something of a role reversal, I’ve been a student, and have been watching my students work as professionals, keeping an eye on their summer practicums. It’s been interesting, and a bit disconcerting, and I think I’ve learned something from it – in addition to what I’ve learned in my course. It made me think hard about the difference between being a student, and working at a job.