A Twin Cities dance company is staging a production rooted in the black experience, and GREAT Theater is a stop on the tour.
Allyson Richert, GREAT’s program director, is leading production and is one of the choreographers for the show called “Our Stories.” The cabaret was designed by Richert with the aim of telling the personal stories of the dancers of Collide Theatrical Dance Company
“Even though the black experience is often rooted in trauma, there is always joy there,” Richert said. “We’re not here to present trauma on stage, we’re here to say there’s joy and happiness and in that joy and happiness you can create art, and that’s what that we share.”
Stories are presented through dance and movement to music by Nina Simone, Otis Redding, Prince, Mumford & Sons, Sheila E. and Beyoncé, among others.
Working in collaboration with the five dancers, Richert helps them share their personal stories and experiences.
Dancer Patrick Jeffrey will share his adoption story and how he found out about his birth parents and how he had a different name at birth. Through movement and the original poetry he records, he will share his self-discovery.
In a duet, two dancers discover the similarities in bi-racial growth with white mothers and black fathers. They share, through dance, how they felt alone until they were older and found people like them.
“After George Floyd, it’s okay to be proud of your blackness,” Richert said. “It feels good to be loud and proud of your curls and proud of your complexion.”
There are other pieces and performances throughout the show, each dancer will share their own solo story. The production also includes work by Carnage the Executioner doing spoken word and beatboxing. The dancers will create movement on his words and his music.
After:GREAT Theater appoints Lacey Schirmers as new interim executive director
The show ends with a tribute to Minneapolis Sound and a dance party.
“As a black woman, as a black mother, it’s my job to carry on the joy and happiness that my ancestors kept pushing for my child to have a better future,” Richert said.
The show begins at 7:30 p.m. on May 27 at the Helgeson Learning Lab Theater at the GREAT Theater. Tickets are available at https://www.greattheatre.org/events/our-stories/.