Red costumes and differing bodies - dark, dark and then light, accents blending in song and foot stomps. The intimacy of bodies touching - a man grasping another man where is face is close to the privates. A man gendered in feminine movement. A matriarch with her round round form. Elders. Young folks. Liberation then repression. Church hymns, African rhythm and the disco balls of house. So many questions present in my mind. The underside of feet dizzy from the dirt of the stage. What good art does. Imagine living in the body that freely - and at the same time, that measured and controlled. Moses parting the reddest sea.
I saw Mose(es) last night:
"In his newest work, renowned choreographer Reggie Wilson examines the multiple iterations of Moses, as represented through different lenses, secular and religious, as well as Moses’s mythical place in people’s imaginations. How do we lead and why do we follow? Moses(es) unabashedly questions leadership and our many relationships to Moses. The story of Moses and the stories of migration ancient and modern are forever intertwined—and their effects on belief, culture, and body language are present throughout the world. Wilson turns these effects into stunning physical expression and an intense sensory experience."
It made me think, isn’t joy a form of weapon, too? The kind of joy that rises up in unlikely places, the feeling that no matter what, I will spit my joy in your face, I will commit to this joy. I am often dizzy with the weight of the world, as most of us are. It can be hard to stay awake. I want to carry the sharpest weapon of joy to cut through the marsh. Each day is the recommitment to purpose: wake, write the rest of what I am thankful for, imagine my day in full flow, make the coffee, step into the world without blinders on.
Yesterday I sat in a Harlem public school that plays jazz instead of bells over the loud speaker. The students, five black junior and senior students with opinions - brilliant opinions, loud opinions. When we spoke across the surface landscape of test prep, underneath the topic - a gold mine of rich discussion. What is the American dream (“a nightmare,” one said)? What is success? Is it college? Is it stability? Race, class, barriers, all the injustices of our world threaded through the dialogue.
The weapon of joy.
Today, sitting with a public school administrator who grew up white in South Africa during apartheid, we spent a half hour swapping stories of the country and it’s neighbor where my other family is from. The same ache that has existed through the ages still so present there, and here, too. When did the ache begin, and how do we cut its tumor from our society?
Now we both teach. Perhaps as a way to apologize for our people, deeply rooted in our subconscious.
The weapon of joy.
I close my hand over its smooth body. I keep it close to my hip. I sharpen it. It is my favorite instrument, and my strongest power.