Dancers Across the U.S. Unite in Chain Letter
Sixteen dancers from across the country, representing a range of dance styles, move as one being, with each dancer's moves flowing naturally into the next. Poet Chinaka Hodge narrates each dancer’s steps from all around the United States as we shelter-in-place. Inspired by Mitchell Rose's Exquisite Corps chain letter, each dancer begins in the last pose of the dancer before passing the movement.
(KQED sonic ID)
(soft music with melancholy piano and synth)
- [Narrator] Dear dancer,
you've got to count yourself in.
Remember that every fold of you is a roadmap to freedom.
That you are a wave under a cloud,
under a sharp blue sky,
but also you are flesh and skin
and trusted guardian of this overlap.
You're a dervish, a holy feat, a revolver.
Don't let the spin get you down,
don't forget you are a switchblade,
or a lighthouse depending on your glint.
Dancer, convex over yourself,
expand for you, be your own protection,
spend these days inverting old norms and making news.
(music changes to medium tempo hip hop beat driven by drums)
Remember, your people weren't afraid of kicking down doors,
of moving through tough water,
of accents, of rhythm work and undulation,
You dancer, are strong stock,
are not to be trifled with.
Bound to the earth, pushing at the heavens.
You, dancer, hold your teacher,
and your teacher's teachers in the balls of your feet.
You six step a library, keep the ancient relevant.
You pick up queues, use them as ammunition,
feel the steel of them, make them weapons.
Roll them through your body,
hold them and without fear and you freeze.
You take a phrase, let it speak on sentences,
you articulate the distance between hooping and ring shout,
commonplace and ritual, fighting and loving.
You let your body do the talking
and the world takes notice say word.
dance signs ASL while dancing: "My heart, our heart, we dream together America. Express."
(hip hop music continues)
Dear dancer, you are the center of the wheel.
The eye of the storm, a cycle unbroken.
And fresh as you wanna be, all things.
All things, light and dark.
Eons old tradition, brand new kicks.
Dancer, don't stop moving, please.
Even if this air makes the river choppy,
you be tree on shore,
be moved by the breeze but never displaced,
you be spring at your crown and summer in your torso,
fall at the knees and winter in your toes,
all seasons, all ways.
Dancer, you poppin',
you young gifted and and colorful,
you the promise that breaks day,
you flower blooming to be seen,
you are your own cure.
(upbeat trap groove with synth swells,sparkling textures)
You know there's power, even in your isolations,
you know you got real life magic
in every one of your extensions.
You know you draw in the light, that they stay jockin',
that you make a painted lady stop and stare,
you always en vogue, always touching from a distance,
you make a whip rethink your hair.
Give yourself the right to unfurl and break down.
You dancer, put your back to the ground,
or to the wall, or to the bark.
You dancer, laugh in the face of can't.
You shimmy on the boughs of discontent.
You defy all odds, so why not these too?
Why today, not the day.
You move the movement.
You've turned callouses into assets,
you've turned cowbells into ashe.
You are your people's unthinkable joy,
all the history they hoped would survive.
See how they taught you how to hold an emotion,
an outlet, a jook, a weave, a dodge, a parry.
You dancer, have already stepped too far
into your power to turn back.
You are an archive of movements.
In stepping revolution to troubled 45s.
You know your best potion is in the curve of your back,
in the tendu and pirouette, in the sweat and stretch,
in the breaths after five before one.
Dancer, the beat is coming back.
The roda and cipher, the jacks and slides.
The time will be steady again.
You will be there to greet it.
Don't forget to count yourself in.
(hip hop music with female vocalist)
More Episodes (24)
LGBTQ+ Choreographer Amit Patel is Changing Bollywood DanceDecember 03, 2020
J-Setting: From Southern HBCUs to the Clubs of AtlantaSeptember 08, 2020
Zydeco in Houston: Black Cowboys, Trail Rides & Creole RootsJuly 14, 2020
Puerto Rico's Bomba, A Dance of The African DiasporaJuly 09, 2020
Albuquerque's Native American Hip-Hop DanceJune 23, 2020
Dancers Across the U.S. Unite in Chain LetterMay 21, 2020
- DanceHouston’s hot-stepping zydeco dance fuses Creole and Black cowboy culturesJanuary 11, 2021
- FilmWhat to stream: Indigenous artists creating works across genresOctober 14, 2020
- DanceDancing an Indigenous future: Native American hip-hop and freestyle in AlbuquerqueSeptember 23, 2020