The African Chronicles: Solo to Ensemble

photography by Ouassim Esmili

Tonight, the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project presented two works, “Not because you are African” and “Whiteness Revisited” at the French Institute in Rabat, Morocco. With the New Year holiday being the same evening we were a little worried our audience would be small, but we were happy to see a good size crowd for the evening performance. I wasn’t expecting such positive responses we received following our performance, almost all of the crowed stayed after for the Q&A. They had many questions in regards to race and issues surrounding Olivier’s exploration of personal experiences about “being African” juxtaposed against my solo, “Whiteness Revisited” about white privilege and the invisibility of whiteness.

The two solos worked very well together and it was very interesting to see the two solos back-to-back and how both issues were strengthened. The works tonight said something about assumptions we all make about the color of skin. The audience was a mix of Moroccans, Europeans, Arabs, and other Africans not from Morocco. They seemed really interested in race tensions and how those play out in their own mixed culture. Even the translation for the Q&A traveled between English, French, Arabic, and Moroccan dialects.

Tonight I was really proud of the work we did; I usually am proud, but tonight I was especially proud because I knew the audience felt something personal. They saw well directed and choreographed work that contained socially-relevant subject matter. The tensions of race were brought out through personal stories, through some drama and some humor. Following the evening we picked up Windega from a sitter’s home and as we drove away it was absolutely beautiful to see my colleagues hold their sleepy daughter in their arms. Strangers may clap, and acquaintances may praise, but at the end of the day, it seems their work is for her. Solos will continue, but nothing compares with the ensemble they make as a family.