Resistance and Revolutions: Liberated Bodies in Motion is a theme that holds a great deal of charge for Raks Africa. That word, liberation, speaks to the core of our work. Liberation is a lived experience, not an intellectual exercise. In these historic times that we are living in we cannot ignore that on a daily basis our very bodies are on the front lines struggles to define our world, our nation and ourselves. Liberation is about the space you fill, the name you choose, the people the love and the unapologetic public expression of self that demands respect. It was in this context that we decided to create our piece for Resistance and Revolution: Debut.
Debut pokes a bit of fun at the centuries old tradition of debutante balls. These were grand galas where young women from a socially acceptable family, schooled in the social graces were presented to society and potential husbands. The tradition continues in many “upwardly mobile” communities across the country. And many of its sentiments are deeply intertwined with the broader society’s view of what women are supposed to aspire to today. Just check out the bias present magazines on the newstands or how Olympian medalist Gabby Douglas was treated by the media.
Etang and I know that we are social outliers in many ways. I mean, how many full-figured, Black, middle-aged bellydance duets do you know of? Our lives are filled, by necessity if not by choice, with redefining professional success, family, the presentation of a whole dance genre and womanhood. The alternative to living this way is conformity. Conformity may give you momentary comfort, but we were not willing to pay the price of self-worth that it demanded. We know that losing pieces of yourself with every compromise is even more painful.
So Debut, is our own special coming out ball of sorts. Like any debutant ball, it includes beautiful ball gowns, sparkles, bright colors, lush music and a statement. And we have a great deal to say, and shimmy about with our coming out.
Check out Debut and other great performances at: Resistance and Revolution: Liberated Bodies in Motion
Free! Saturday, October 8th, 7:30pm
Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland
Can’t attend the show, but you want to support Girls Raks?
Great! Find out more here!