#Dancestory2013#STL– Post #MAAGI, one of the climatic moments of my Sojourn a private tour led by the illustrious Ms. Ruby Streate, Director of Dance & Education for the Katherine Dunham Centers in East St. Louis. Upon, crossing the building’s threshold of legacy and washed by a waterfall of timeless information exchange, enlivened stories, rare artifacts and cultural treasures marked a reflective moment in my own Dance steps including my most profound trek, #Dance Professor/ Mentor Paula Fleury- McCullum with Jacque Burgess; and Lynn Coles & Linda Johnsonat Laney College; My early #Dance nzo founded by Dr.Halifu Osumare Everybodys Creative Arts Center whose transcendental works still thrive at The Malonga Casquelourd Center for The Arts. And Dr. Albirda Rose revolutionizing and delivering the sermon to certification chronicling Dunham legacy all along the way. The finale, US speaking fondly of her beloved Sister-kin Ms. Alicia Pierce and my Paula McCullum – give praise to Life!
*Ms. Dunham thank you for your breath, brilliance and rich legacy for all to inherit- in grand Salute! Ayiboboo! Ms. Streate, thank you for such a glorious tour and sharing of an incomparable Dance story that affects us all. *still reeling*
Although I made it a point to catch a good whiff of the city visiting sites like the Western Expansion Museum, took a picture in front of “the Arch” – not your average structure, it’s pretty impressive. Even saw “The Wiz” at the local Black Repertory Theatre, past through Forest Park, saw several Universities, and neighborhoods, a flourishing downtown Art District, even spent time at the Library, I knew there was so much more to appreciate – so I shall return. My last night was imbued with a KP #Brass rehearsal session, Bush Ra’s unmatched Banana pudding and Dre’s “can’t stop eating it” Routelle dip. I smiled at the symbiotic nature of it all, this #STL Sojourn was full, vibrating a high rise and wouldn’t you know it- the block experienced a slight power outage! Nevertheless, the Brass kept playin’ on. I shall meet in St. Louis once again, real soon – those folks did me #RiteOn!
A Big kinship hug and a heart-full thank you to Weedie Braimah and Andrea Peoples – Jahi, Jason, Mike, Jackie, Douns, Djembes, Bush Ra & the nephews and otha KP kin – you are the tops – Stay UP!
On #Dancestory2013 track: Gathered surnames from kinship encounters to unearth: #Ebron of Virginia, legacy music traditions of the #Morris of New Orleans and #Peoples of Arkansas. iba’e [give praise to life] For more info about #DANCESTORY2013[just click link]
On an amazing journey, making tracks to build lasting legacies. Just finished co-producing a blogtalk radio show segment I spoke about last post. This was a “Blogtalk” class project was commissioned to Track 4 participants “Genealogy as a Profession” by one our Teachers Ms. Bernice Bennett, granting us the opportunity to broadcast a show on her popular program “Ancestors Footprints”. Launched LIVE July 10, 2013, from #MAAGI at the Historical Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis, MO, listen in as Institute classmate Callie Flournoy-Riser shares her #genealogy journey to Cameroon with our class host Gary Franklin. Here’s the broadcast link: http://bit.ly/134oWEp and below is my Track 4 classmates.
Part of my #Dancestory2013 mission is to participate in cultural exchange with kinship organizations of the African Dance and Drum Community to invoke dialogue about our Family Histories, while exploring cultural connections. Through Kreative Pandemonium, I was invited to teach a Afro-Cuban Diaspora Dance/lec at the historic Better Family and Life Center led by DeBorah and Malik Ahmed. To be greeted warmly by students of the Community and to encounter the powerful artistry of Mardi Gras Indian traditions was a wonderful welcome; I along with many have have sewn a few of the pieces of this very suit by the Zulu Family of New Orleans, worn by Chief Shaka Zulu of Yellow Pocahontas, memberof 200 year legacy founded by the legendaryBig Chief Allison “Tootie” Montana. Mind you, every stitch counts for such a monumental task taking about a year to complete. God Bless the Mardi Gras Indian tradition.
My“KP” kinship began with long time Brethren Weedie Braimah, leading to meeting his life-partner Andrea Peoples a whirlwind of familiar hospitality and a creative force, both imbued with long-standing music traditions in their own heritage stemming from New Orleans and the infamous Temptations, respectively. Their Organization/ Band/ Family Kreative Pandemonium, so aptly named breeds a powerful movement of sound filled with deep soulful grooves, intricately woven with West African Ancestral calls, historical Jazz runs, flipped with #STL swagg all day and them some. I was privy to some of the rehearsals and was compelled to do a jig on the spot in my little corner, because this was NOT sit down music – AND, the musicality is on HIT!
Wearing my red Fogo 2004 “Kongo Ya Bakoko” shirt in tribute to the legacy of the Ancestors, the class opened up naturally to honor St. Louis’ infamous Cultural Ambassador and treasure Ms. Katherine Dunham. As I shared my own Dunham #Dancestory citing my Mother, Patricia Waters-Calloway whose teacher was Ms. Ruth Beckford, Dunham Biographer, toured with Ms. Dunham in 1943, celebrated 1st Lady of Oakland Dance and Professor Elendar Barnes, Founder of the Laney College Dance Department and Co-Founder of Dimensions Dance Theater, later to further ignite my own passion under the aegis of Mentor/High-school Dance teacherPaula Fleury-Mc Cullum, with a myriad of Dunham emissaries along the way. I reflect favorable upon an fortunate opportunity to meet Ms. Dunham at San Francisco’sFestival 2000 in 1990, where as a Marketing/PR associate I was privy to accommodate her general needs and to observe a class she instructed masterfully from here chair at Laney College. Later in 2006, I’d participate in a “Living Birthday Card” choreography, honoring her 97 years on earth, presented by the Dunham Legacy Project of Northern California at Laney College. For my first class in the #STL, we started in 1st position parallel, working plies, undulations, parallel flat back, rhythmic isolations, then onto progressions – warmed up to a sweat dancing for Palo, adding some heat with Ogun and hit a frenzy with a little Vodou-Arara ,all in dedication to them- here and beyond. I had a great time and love the energy of “da Lou” filled with generations of deep-soul Dance and Drum folks. #grateful
I am ushered to highlight the Bay Area’s African-Ancestored #Dancestory, so inspired by the tenacious Soul-searing ground works like that of my Sis-kin Amara Tabor Smith and the talented Dance mediums of “Ed Mock-manifestations” giving us signs that “We and They” want to be heard. In shared works and more, I too pose the question:
“How shall we preserve and archive vital information that transcends generations, and inform these times?”
To this, I relish these thoughts: My living Grandmother allowing me to perform data entry on her job computer at 14, being a Mac User since 1984 and my Grandfather [deceased] urging me to re-do his Family History documents on a newly purchased Mac to appease my Grandmother, knowing that I’d “hang around”. We produced our first Family history book – #Walston 1993, taking it next level in 1994 on the matrilineal side, lead by my Grandmother – #Coleman/Culverson.
Yet, when I think of my experience at Midwestern African-American Genealogy Institute this year in St. Louis, I think back that just a couple of months ago, my family buried my 1st cousin who was my age…Her beautiful transcendental Spirit of perseverance is my fast pass to live my life NOW, which lead to my Scholarship Award from Afrigeneas.commaking it possible to attend #MAAGI.
It shall always be an indelible print upon my memory, taking our inaugural class picture, my eyes welling up in quiet pride. I shook my head, because I could see my grandfather smiling and sense Ancestors applauding for this moment was truly historical and I was a part of it–for the record. #Dancestory2013-STL
**Special thank you to Institute Founders, Directors, Coordinators, Professors and Experts. A very special thanks to Charles Brown, Jr and Angela Walston-Raji along with the tenacious works and hospitality of the St. Louis African American Genealogy Institute. Pleased to be in the esteemed kinship of Kreative Pandemonium and Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center, and Community Dancers, Instructors and Drummers.
***Hail Up: Baba Bro. Rodney Lindor of Haiti, Bokulaka, Black Repertory Theatre, 14th Street Artist Community, Sabayet Inc., Dr. David Imhotep, Baba Kenya Ajanaku, and the New African Paradigm Study Group and my roomies from the Afro-American Genealogy Historical Society of Chicago.