Hooded Hooded

HOODED/Mali

An International Exchange through Dance Theater

A proposal by Movin’ Legacy

JDP-7331

Introduction

This proposal aims to reinterpret award-winning choreographer, Jeffrey Page’s, dance-theatrical work Hooded in the Malian context. Inspired by the tragic 2012 death of Travon Martin, Mr. Page created Hooded to further a dialogue across racial, cultural and religious divides.

In particular, “Hooded” delves into some of the most challenging of cultural divides – Black and White, Islam and Christianity – as well as exploring the negative cultural stereotypes that contributed to the murder and its aftermath – associating the “hoody,” or hooded sweatshirt, with criminality, darkness and danger. Members of the American Muslim community also spoke out in the wake of the murder about how they are profiled based on what they wear, thus drawing a parallel between the hoody and the keffiyeh and the hijab (head coverings worn by Muslim men and women to represent humility and tamed beauty).

The piece draws attention to cultural similarities, emphasizes the need for improved understanding and promotes the acceptance of difference. Hooded uses finely crafted performance art that is the product of an intense research and social science process for the purpose of inciting dialogue in Mali which will purposefully : 1) ignite dialogue about cultural differences and the need for peace and reconciliation 2) impact upon youth empowerment 3) promote art as a means of economic transformation to ask how and why certain garments have become symbols of “otherness,” and therefore triggers for fear and hate.

Following a 2012 coup and extremist Islamist occupation, Mali, once known as a multi-ethnic community, rooted in peace and tolerance, is now experiencing heightened social tension, mistrust, insecurity, and the rise of violent extremism. By collaborating with leading artists from different groups across this divided country, this project hopes to translate the central themes of Hooded to current post-conflict Mali: peace-building, dialogue, and reconciliation.

Mali is recognized by ethno-musicologists as the birthplace of many of the most famous African-American musical traditions including the genre identified as the American Blues. Although one of the world’s poorest countries, Mali is celebrated as a leading force in world music and Malian artists are widely considered amongst the best in the world. This project will bring together African-American and Malian artists to build a cross-cultural understanding through the process of working together, and presenting a different view of America.

The project will culminate with the performance of the fully developed work in Bamako, Mali, by an inter-cultural cast consisting of African-American and Malian artists, making a powerful statement about the value of cultural collaboration as a tool to bring people together and to build empathy for the dissimilar, the different and the “other” with a view to producing authentic and long lasting change.

 

I.         Proposal

Movin’ Legacy is requesting a grant of $60,000 towards implementation of Phase 1 of “Hooded”, which will commence in November 2015 through December 2015. At its core, Phase 1 of “Hooded” will be a two-week series of dance workshops in and outside of Bamako where the American participants will collaborate with selected Malian artists to further develop the concept of the project in the Malian context. This two-week project will culminate with an exhibition of the development of the project up to that point.

Phase 1 will be an abbreviated version of a larger follow-on project (Phase 2), and will aid in gathering pertinent information on the feasibility of Phase 2 while evaluating an effective plan for executing and developing important relationships that will assist with the overall effectiveness of Phase 2. . It is anticipated that in Phase 1, four persons who will compose part of the Hooded Project Team will travel to Mali by flight: Mr. Page of Movin’ Legacy, along with one creative and research associate, one person that will assist in various points of logistics and administration, and one documentarian that will also evaluate the overall progress. The team will also include individuals from Mali that are a part of the project research envoy and who will translate indigenous language.

Upon arrival in Mali, 2 Malian dance artists and 2 Malian musicians will be selected by Mr. Page and engaged to travel by road with the Hooded Project Team to the Kayes region and the Wassoulou region of Mali. In each region the team will spend 3 days exploring the various intricacies of local and indigenous dance customs.   During this time, the team will organize an informal gathering in the form of a “party” in order for learning to be experiential and will also dialogue with several cultural historians and society leaders.   Following completion of the research in both locations the traveling group will return to Bamako and 8 additional artists will be selected to join the original group of 4 artists for a seven-day developmental workshop during which time a 25 minute theatrical work will be created. The final work will be a high caliber and exciting performance, open to the public in an intimate and modest environment and free of charge.   The audience members will include members of the artistic community as well as the general public and specially invited guests, such as government and embassy officials. There will be an open structured post-performance question and answer and discussion session in order to further evaluate the many elements of the abbreviated project. The following day the artists will gather for a structured post performance evaluation. All of the scheduled activities will be well documented and made available to the public for research and archival purposes.

Movin’ Legacy will also use this opportunity to promote the follow-on project and meet with various individuals and organizations in order to network and gain endorsements.   In addition to the documentary and archival elements, a feasibility and financial report, evaluating the scope of Phase 1 gathered from the open forum and artist discussions along with an analysis of how to most successfully move forward into Phase 2 will be produced. In conclusion, Phase 1 will also provide necessary information to develop pro forma documents and accurate projections.

II.         HOODED/Mali, Project Description and Background

This proposal presents Phase 1 of the Hooded Project, which will implement an extended dance project in post-conflict Mali. The development of Hooded Mali will employthe art of dance and social science methodology to a) bring a diverse group of artists together to celebrate Malian dance traditions and b) facilitate exchange with community members, and cultural and religious leaders to engage in dialogue and promote peace building and reconciliation. In addition,Hooded will build skill capacity and provide short-term employment for the duration of the project and make access to internationally renowned artists available to several Malian dance artists.

However, Phase 1 is also concerned with the promotion of the larger project by the production and performance of an abridged theatre piece to a select audience.  Mr. Page created Hooded, in order to spark both a national and international dialogue about cultural and religious discord, as well as to highlight the importance of engaging youth to be a part of this larger conversation. The US-based dance company Kulu Mele Dance and Drum Ensemble premiered a work-in-progress version in November 2013.

The presentation of the work-in-progress of Hooded garnered overwhelming praise and now Mr. Page is encouraged that the work will benefit from further robust creative and academic interrogation. Mr. Page is eager to build upon the foundation of Hooded in Mali particularly as Hooded merges African, particularly Malian, and American cultural imprints, including Hip-Hop dance, jazz music by noted composer/performer Idris Ackamoor and live instrumentation composed by Malian master musician Moussa Traore. Mr. Page has made regular extended visits to Mali for more than 5 years. During these visits, he has worked with several artists and dance companies, developing close relationships both with them and the larger artist community in and around Bamako. As a result Mr. Page strongly believes that the latent talents of these Malian artists should be showcased on the world stage through the implementation of the Hooded Project.

III.         Overall Project Aim

Use of finely crafted theater art that is the product of an intense research based in cultural performance studies and qualitative social science methodology for the purpose of inspiring peace and reconciliation, as well as provoking dialogue that will purposefully:

  1. Spark dialogue about cultural difference and the need for peace and reconciliation
  2. Empower and Educate Youth
  3. Promote art as a means of economic transformation

IV.         Overall Project Milestones

  1. Provide opportunities for both American and Malian dancers to travel to various regions of Mali to experience the art of indigenous cultures in order to incorporate the cultural and performance knowledge of those spaces into this project
  2. Create a theatrical experience that will promote the unsung beauty of Mali.
  3. Facilitate significant opportunities where artists can fortify and advance their creative energies.
  4. Conduct research and dialogue to highlight how artistic endeavors positively affect the economy and the wider community.

V.         Proposed Project Activities

Activity #1: Party and Play – Experiential Learning and Discourse

A research approach that will provide a series of structured opportunities for constructive interaction between religious and ethnic factions, while simultaneously encouraging a mutual pride in shared culture.

  • Goal: Engage Malian professional-level artists and expose them to new, profound and vast ethnological information about themselves and each other while deepening their creativity and research abilities.
  • Outcome Objective: Increase employment opportunities for 12 – 16 professional-level Malian artists that are of various ages and at various stages in their career.
  • Process Objective: Participants will undergo a greater appreciation for the significance and beauty of the rich cultural practices within their own milieu of traditional cultural art, and therefore be equipped with a deeper sense of self-pride.
  • Impact Objective: Participants will gain an ability to address and reconcile problems through experiential learning activities and discourse as well as increasing the skill level and quality of creative work for the individual artists.

Activity #2: HOODED Artist Development Workshops and Stage Performance

The Hooded Project will draw together artists from both the divergent sectors of Malian society and the United States to present Hooded to a Malian theatre audience.

  • Goal: Develop and perform an accomplished theatrical work in Mali that is worthy of touring internationally.
  • Outcome Objective: Re-energize the arts in post-conflict Mali by increasing employment and touring opportunities for deserving Malians.
  • Process Objective: Establish an intercultural production team of 11 theater professionals both in and outside of Mali that will make up the creative, design and management.
  • Impact Objective: Equip participating artists with theatrical skills that will engender improvement in the delivery of their creative endeavors and own performance.

Activity #3: Mentorship, Youth Intensive

A comprehensive mentorship and professional development program that trains youth to be leaders in the larger society. This unique demographic can benefit from exposure to international standards with the aim of encouraging entrepreneurial activities, which in turn will strengthen the economy.

  • Goal: Provide Malian youths age 18 – 25 with exposure to greater ambitions and the tools to successfully attain high aspirations.
  • Outcome Objective: Establish a system of mentorship services aimed at developing professional-level craftsmanship.
  • Process Objective: Deliver youth training in the areas of production management, design and technical theater arts skills, while simultaneously encouraging the continued development and practice of traditional art forms.
  • Impact Objective: Youth will have a changed perspective toward leadership and conflict resolution through peer-led works.

Activity #4: Pre and Post Performance Dialogue

Employ rigorous methodology to unite a diverse group of Malian artists, community members, and cultural and religious leaders to engage in dialogue as they develop Hooded in Mali.

  • Goal: Unify a diverse group of artists, community members, and cultural and religious leaders through structured and open forum discourse about cross-cultural understanding, peace and reconciliation.
  • Outcome Objective: Participants will gain a deeper sense of respect for cross-cultural values and diversity.
  • Process Objective: Facilitate a safe environment where artists, and community members can offer constructive criticism and speak freely about their own experiences.
  • Impact Objective: Participants will feel encouraged and will recognize new ways to problem solve and embrace cultural diversity.

Project Team

Jeffrey Page (Founder & Artistic Director of Movin’ Legacy), Project lead, director and lead choreographer, Mr. Page describes himself as a “movement custodian,” moving forward the dance legacy of the African diaspora, an art form whose unique beauty is often disregarded. He is an award winning and Emmy nominated director-choreographer. In 2011 Mr. Page won the MTV Video Music Award for Beyoncé’s Run The World (Girls). He has contributed choreography for artists such as Beyoncé, Solange Knowles, Will Smith and Jazmine Sullivan.  On screen, Mr. Page has choreographed for TV shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, and films such as FREEDOM, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. His work has been seen internationally as a part of three of Beyoncé’s world tours. Mr. Page is also featured as a recurrent judge and on-camera personality for Nigeria’s Maltina Dance All – Reality TV Series. He has received numerous commissions to develop theatrical work on some of the most sought after dance theatre companies in the United States, such as the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago and the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company, based in Denver. Mr. Page was the choreographer for the Broadway musical, Violet, produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, which opened in spring 2014 in New York City and recently directed the all Japanese version of the award winning musical Memphis which opened in Tokyo, Japan in January 2015. As a performer, he was part of the original award-winning Broadway cast of Bill T. Jones’ FELA! Mr. Page’s work is imbued with sophisticated rhythmicality and the innovative amalgams of West African, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Ballet, Blues, Afro-Cuban, Modern, Concert and Commercial dance and theatrical forms. His work celebrates the purity of traditions within African Diaspora dance vernacular, while also moving well beyond those confines.

Moussa Traore (Composer & Creative Associate) Moussa Traore was born and raised in Mali, West Africa. He has been playing the djembe for over thirty years, and in 1984, after completing a twelve-year apprenticeship, he was deemed a “master” by his teacher, Sega Cisse. Moussa has achieved great recognition throughout Mali as an accomplished musician in the theater, in traditional ceremonies, as well as in the Malian pop scene. Among musicians in Bamako, Moussa is considered to be one of the top djembe players in the country. Since moving to the U.S., Moussa has continued to distinguish himself as a highly respected teacher and performer. He has given drum workshops in cities throughout the U.S. Currently, he is teaching at schools, offering weekly community classes, leading drum ensembles for West African dance classes, and performing for special events and workshops.

Jaimie Bleck (Research Lead) has spent over five years conducting research on Malian citizens’ perspectives of the political system. She has been working on Mali for over 12 years, has visited the country’s eight regions, and speaks Bamana– the trading language of Southern Mali. Dr. Bleck’s book, Schooling Citizens: Education, Citizenship, and Democracy in Mali, is forthcoming with the Johns Hopkins University Press; her work on African politics has also appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Democratization, and The Journal of Modern African Studies. Her research has been financed by the National Science Foundation the Boren Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the USAID. She is currently living in Mali on research sabbatical as an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow.

Robin Gee (Project Manager & Creative Associate) is an Associate Professor of Dance at UNC Greensboro holds an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Sarah Lawrence College and specializes in African, and Modern dance techniques, dance filmmaking and the research and documentation of traditional dance forms. In 2006 she formed her own company Sugarfoote Productions, a multiservice arts organization designed to help local audiences experience the richness of African and Diasporan cultural traditions. Since its inception Sugarfoote has presented a wide variety of arts programming and is the 2010/2011 recipient of the UAC Multicultural Arts Investments Grants for her community outreach programming. She is the recipient of the numerous research grants and awards for her work in dance documentation and preservation, including but not limited to: the West African Research Associations’ Post Doctoral Fellowship in African Research (2006); the Central Piedmont Regional Artists Hub Grant in 2005 for her work on dance documentation in Guinea and again in 2010 for her work in Mali; the American Association of University Women’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for her work on The Mande Lagacy – A Multimedia Dance Documentation Project (2006), and a US Fulbright Scholars Award for Urban Griots: (Re) Imaging the Word (2013). Recently she has created and curated the Greensboro Dance Film Festival, an international Screen Dance Festival showcasing adjudicated films from around the world.

Jos Duncan (Documentarian) Jos Duncan is a filmmaker, storyteller and cultural development strategist who has garnered success as an artist and in business. She works as a Business Development Strategist with Mile Media LLC, the multimedia production company she formed in 2014 while also working as the Executive Producer and Director for GriotWorks, the non-profit organization she founded in 2007. Under her direction, GriotWorks has become a signature organization in presenting work around Black storytelling and culture through the production of short films, multimedia engagement projects and cultural competency programs. She produced dozens of videos for local non-profit organizations and arts groups before pursuing and receiving an MFA in Media Communication Arts (2011) from the City College of New York where she focused on Screenwriting, Producing, and Cinematography. While at CCNY, she was invited to Escuela International Cine Y Television (EICTV) in Cuba as the Writer and Producer for USA, with filmmakers from 8 countries for a 6-part global documentary series, Ser Un Ser Humano. The series has screened world-wide and is referenced as a model for using documentary film for the development of cultures and communication. She has received recognition for her artistic work through awards and fellowships from the American Folklore Society, New York Women in Film and Television, Colin Powell Center for Public Service, PA Council on the Arts, the Leeway Foundation and a fellowship with the Knight Foundation to participate in the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriting Intensive in Philadelphia and at the festival in Park City, Utah. Jos’ educational work includes teaching as Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and as Curriculum Faculty of Multicultural Arts at Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to continuing to make her own films, Jos currently serves on the Executive Board for PhillyCAM where she chairs the Membership and Outreach Committee and works as the National Production Captain for the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), founded by Ava DuVernay.

Mecca Madyun (Logistician & Evaluation Specialist) A dancer, performer, choreographer and teacher for over 20 years, Mecca Madyun will receive her MFA in dance and somatics (BMCÒ) from the University of Colorado Boulder where she is currently a graduate instructor. She has performed with Chuck Davis, Rennie Harris, Gesel Mason, Teena Marie Custer, India Irie, MIA and Spank Rock. Mecca learned under Youssouf Koumbassa and Mouminatou Camara having danced with Kulu Mele (Philadephia) and Sankofa Dance Theater (Baltimore). Mecca has most recently served as assistant to Emmy Award winning choreographer Jeffrey Page in 2012 and 2013.

Action Plan & Timeline

Phase I (November 2015 – December 2015)

  • The creative team will travel to Mali to conduct an abbreviated 5-week version of project and  strategic planning session.

Phase II  (April 2016 – June 2016)

  • Implement larger project
  • Professional U.S. performers from the original production will come together with the Malian artists for a 6-week rehearsal process.
  • In June 2016, the work will premiere, running for 8 performances.

JDP-7319

Mission

To forward the legacy of art, people and culture.

Organizational Vision

The importance and the power of art as a foundation in every great society has been acknowledged throughout time and every turning point of world history from before the Classical age to the first and second World Wars has been prompted by art.   Art, in all of its ethereal complex splendor, is immeasurable and shows humankind a reflection of our greater and most fundamental selves.




Performance Footage of Full Work-in-progress 

Local support in Mali from The National Theatre 

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Phase #1 Budget

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Jeffrey Page Press Package

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