BLACK MADONNA AND MISS AMERICA: IN THE STREETS, ON THE STAGE AND IN THE CHURCH
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The black female body is a political body that inhabits the collective imagination of a nation. This body constantly negotiates a multiplicity of meanings that have life and death consequences and in turn teach America about herself. What does it look like for this body to take up space? As the black female body navigates the streets, the stage, the church, both private and public space, what concessions must be made? Black Madonna and Miss America is a choreographic and critical investigation of socio-political happenings in conversation with the positioning of the black female icon in the streets, on the stage and in the church. It is cinematic in nature, employing a familiar series of still and moving images tied to a complex historical canon. Black Madonna and Miss America tackles the tension between the public and private; the doing and being of the black female iconic body. The work confronts the worship of the black female body in popular culture; worship undone in the political and economic treatment of that same body. In the making of the work, theory and practice have been lovers, sometimes in harmony, other times, at odds. The practice of making the work in the body challenged and was challenged by the theoretical work of thinking through and researching related issues; some tangental and others glaringly present. What does the performance protest of Colin Rand Kaepernick have in common with black female bodies engaged in their own political and social choreography on stage? How does #BlackGirlMagic both illuminate the work and threaten its potential potency? What does the work borrow from the Black Church and the Black Lives Matter Movement?