A Jam Session For Troubling Times

commentary

2021

Created during an unprecedented time and what feels unpredictable, A Jam Session for Troubling Times provides gilded comfort and optimism as each movement is performed in high energy and supported by the cheering and noise from others. It is choreographed as a single piece with seven performers, each taking turns and picking up the last movement; each bringing their knowledge and empathy of dance. At first, the music is prominent and seems to be the guiding force, but it quickly fades as the repetitive sound struggles to keep up with the moves. There is an established code, unspoken set of rules that each performer showcases themselves for an equal amount of time and others that relate to their position and queue. This allows us to witness a correlation in dance to how many situations prevail in society: the dancer’s signals through body movement, gesture, posture engage instantly to be more familiar in context. The unity and support of one another help the group expand on complicated movements that defy the monotonous rhythm. A society that is going through a troubling time within a set of boundaries, props, and time only engages the viewer to interact with the people themselves and imagine their next moves or what they cannot see them doing. A Jam Session suggests that a setting was emptied of its white oligarchy during the pandemic, Blackness could become less performative and still retain agency while critiquing the essentialist notions of identity. Yet, it is not until performativity is codded through drawing that it uncovers more than an instruction manual for replication, it is through these terms of race, class, gender, and ethnicity that help us understand analytical drawings in and of themselves and how they inflect our neighborhoods, streets, and persons.

Alvin Ailey Performance

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