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I got to meet Ntozake Shange!

That woman is FLLLLYYYY!!! She just looked so beautiful and so stylish and had this gaze that just penetrated your soul. The event wasn’t about her per se as she was there to interview Marc Bamuthi Joseph, but the whole thing was just so….loss for words. I wasn’t familiar with Bamuthi’s work, but he was PHENOMENAL.

He started with one of his pieces, spoken word I guess—poetry infused with movement and tap dancing. I wish I could get a transcript of his words because there was just SO much he said in a way that is only pure artistry talking about how racism married capitalism and she (capitalism) told racism that before they’d hook, she was gonna pretend that he didn’t exist! So on point, and I can’t even start to do justice to his art because his movements just made it the more powerful.

But one other really great line of his was when he was talking about how through his tap dancing he was making jazz, that he was jazz and that he was “improvising truth on false structures.”

So after he finished his piece, he and Ms. Shange sat down and she asked him questions. (God I wish that I could get a copy of that conversation because it was SO GOOD!!! AAHHH!) And Ms. Shange just has this presence…she’s so calm and gracious…but has this great sense of humor and great toothy smile when she gets going.

One theme she touched on a lot were his dance inspirations as far as tapping went (Savion Glover was like the big one for him, even though he’s only two years younger than him and had been in a show with him when they were kids). But she asked him why he thought that Ginger Rogers tapped so lightly while this other dancer, whose name I cannot remember, tapped so hard. At which point he presented his “low frequency theory”

So his theory went something paraphrased like this—he was talking about snakes and how snakes writhe and the movement moves from head all the way to the back of its body; then about how things at a low frequency have this inverse relationship to vibrations—where the lower the frequency the higher the vibration—and how also there’s the association of things that fall in the “low” category with lesser forms, lesser intelligence etc.; but the point really was about how so many black people liked the bass, and the sound of the drum—because of the reverberation, the vibration that it provided and how those were the things that made your ass move—how that low frequency drumming could send enough vibrations to have that powerful reach, all the way back to Africa; that the hard tap dancing, the bass, the drums, the guttural and visceral things that make up so much of the “African aesthetic”—the low low frequencies, provide the strong and powerful vibrations that reach back to Africa, back to our ancestors. [Again, I’m not doing it justice]

Well anyway, he also spoke about how powerful For Colored Girls… was even in being a man, and had this heartfelt moment of telling Ms. Shange that her work made him not only a better man but a better human being—the pieces about rape and abortion especially, gave him just a new found respect and desire to protect the women in his life.

OOH, and he also talked about how hip hop culture was one of the last creations of folklore in this country! I had never really thought about it like that—how hip hop is folklore in that it is embodied and oral and is its own culture even though it derives from other antecedents and revolves around so much tradition, and how there really hasn’t been something of that nature created since then.

But yea, the entire night was just inspirational and uplifting, to be in the presence of such intellectual, artistic creativity. Ms. Shange read some of For Colored Girls…the section that starts out about Quadroon Balls. And then she talked about how she knows that she has another poem or short story to write based on how sweaty she is when there is no apparent reason to sweat. And then she ended the night telling us that we need to stand up, go to our congressmen, and protect women’s right—protect roe v. wade and save planned parenthood.

So maybe I missed out on the $20 all you can eat crawfish boils, jambalaya, gumbo, buffet, hurricanes, and king cake—but it was definitely worth it for this one time event.

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