“The dance is strong magic, the dance is spirit, it turns the body into “Liquid Steel”…The dance is life.” Pearl Primus
Concept by Neeca Wilder, J. Lynda Blake and Michael R. Thierry
Written by Neeca Wilder, Michael R. Thierry and J. Lynda Blake
Choreographed By Neeca Wilder
Curtains open, stage is bare, theater are darken except for one lone spotlight on center stage. Voice is heard amidst sound of beating drums as Pearl enters stage right to center stage.
Intro: The dance is strong magic. The dance is a spirit. It turns the body to liquid steel. It makes it vibrate like a guitar. The body can fly without wings. (Pearl leaps) It can sing without a voice. (Music rises) the dance is strong magic. The dance is life.
[Danse African (dancers perform to original composition “Liquid Steel”)
Approx. 5 min.]
(PEARL enters from backstage as dancers disperse and begin narration.)
In Africa the warriors danced before a battle stealing themselves, making the will strong like the metal of his spear his body became liquid steel. On the slave ships to the Americas slaves were made to dance this kept them alive this was the most dangerous time for the slaver for when they danced their eyes became as liquid steel. On the plantations their drums were taken away but their thoughts became song and thee song became dancers and like liquid steel…
(Stage Goes Dark Suddenly Flames are projected on a scrim)
Narration is heard off stage...
“These dancers will grow like flames who will continue to carry our songs to all who listen. They will be with us in even greater numbers tomorrow” –Langston Hughes
Drumming Begins [Dance: Music Afro Latin music original piece "Boz's Juba" 4 minutes] A lone figure rises amidst the flames. The stage becomes bright! He is Boz's Juba...He is a black man in white face mask challenged to dance by 3 white men in Black face. Al are dressed as minstrels each one falls by the wayside as he out dances them all. Ripping away their black face masks, revealing his true face at the end he is triumphant!
[Dance: the CakeWalk – Music: The Entertainer (Tap Dance) duration 5-8mins]
4 Dancers dressed in rags and "hand me downs" enter stage left and Promenade while the music plays buoyant and playful ... As music comes to second progression
2 couples enter stage right. They are dressed in Antebellum attire hoop skirts and finery as if attending a cotillion. They Promenade with all seriousness as the women feign attempts to jump over and around obstacles while tap dancing.
The 4 dancers in rags huddle and watch gesturing and giggling amongst themselves and pretending not to see or be amused at the dance. When the spotlight shuts down off the exiting
Hoop Skirt couples. They begin their own version f what they have witnessed.
As the song ends they all tap away promenading leaving behind one lone black girl who looks forlornly toward the imagined Big House off stage... She begins her dance sad and alone with the playful yet plaintiff voice of Louis Armstrong counterpointing her movements that question "What Did I Do To Be So... Black And Blue"
[Dance, modern, ballet (Dunham style)With Powerful isolations on the beat and at times staccato Music Black and Blue By Louis Armstrong duration 5-8 mins]
Curtains rise on stage under a red light are two black men in white coats and tails. One is seated poised as if playing a piano, the other is frozen in mid-step. He holds a top hat in one hand and they maintain the pose as narration begins.
[Enter Pearl stage right beginning narration]
“Music, dance, religion don’t have artifacts as their end products so they were saved. These aspects of African culture were impossible to erase. Blues, jazz, and the adaptation of the Christian religion all relied heavily on African culture (Leroy Jones).
[Stage lighting comes up, music begins in the background, the jazz band is illuminated and begins to play as Buck and Bubbles begin their routine.]
(While tapping) Run Buck! Run!
What for Bubbles?
The patty rollers are coming. Now jest cuz de’ dead don’t mean they can’t catch up!
But I’m gonna be a star
Not in dem shoes. You ain’t been able to eat right since you bought em’ and they're made for tiny feet and not your black tree trunk toes.
You wait and see, Broadway for me and the Hoofers Club in Harlem. (to the audience) I don’t do this for a living…I just dance to keep from starving to death!
[Dance Buck and Bubbles style… me and my shadow… improves flash, shim sham, figure eights forward backwards and sideways.]
As dance ends lights go out momentarily the stage then suddenly becomes bright as Cameos music “slide” begins to play and we hear a voice over the music a baseball announcer reporting the 1944 World Series.
… And it’s a beautiful day here in Fenway Park the Braves are doing a marvelous job all they need is one more run to win the series. Next it's Jimmy up to bat the pitcher throws, it’s a hit! Jimmy goes to first he rounds second he’s headed to third he’s going to make the break for home Slide! Jimmy slide! Jimmy slide! S-L-Y-D-E!!!!
[Dance Jimmy Slyde slides across the floor taps and does his routine to the music adding flash and slides and point counter point syncopated rhythms. Duration 5-8 mins. Curtains close.]
Front stoop in the city a scrim shows a cityscape in the background. A young girl is seated on a stoop alone as the radio plays next to her the music is interrupted by a news flash reporting a lynching the song strange fruit begins to play as she dances she is joined by three other female in 60's attire (dancers who complete the ensemble piece.) As piece ends the girls all fall abruptly as men in white with Red Crosses painted on their backs carry them away as radio reports a church bombing has killed four little girls.
[Dance modern, ballet etc. music Billie Holiday “Strange Fruit”] 5-10 mins.
Curtain opens, Pearl stands in front of freedom marchers carrying signs. Dancers are frozen as if in the middle of a protest. As Pearl completes her lines dancers throw down their signs and begin to cheer for James Brown. Dancing off stage.
We, today stand on the shoulders of our predecessors who have gone before us. We as their successors must catch the torch of freedom and liberty passed onto us by our ancestors. (Continues about Boston’s dance history or whichever city we are in) (Music rises James Brown, “Say it loud I’m black and I’m proud” and “be real black for me” by Hathaway and Flack.)
[Pearl exits stage left, leaving two dancers with their backs facing the audience. As Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway music begins “be real black for me.” Dancers begin “Soul Waltz” A soloist off stage sings music. Scene duration 8-10 min.]
Dance instructors come to the stage and introduce themselves to the class “Good morning class my name is Andrea Hubbard I will be teaching you all about…. Good morning class my name is Elma Lewis…. Good morning class my name is Bill…. Good morning class my name is De Ama Battle, Good morning class my name is Adrienne Hawkins…. Etc.
Voices and names become a chorus as the lights dim music “Say Goodbye” Original song sung by Keturah begins and as lights rise golden as the sunset
The dance begins (Improvisational Modern styles, Hip Hop influenced…)
Duration 8—10 minutes
African Dancers face Krump Dancers the past meets the future and the similarities become apparent Music Reprise of “Liquid Steel” w/ Drum effects. Duration: 10-12 minutes.
Listen Children/keep it in the place/you have for the keeping/always/keep it all ways/we have never hated black/we have always loved each other/children/pass it on.
(Pearl dances with the children passing on the knowledge.)