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Memento Yard // 07 – 2020

Strong Wind, Deep Roots // 05 – 2020

Circulated performance announcement // with support from the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, on May 22, ‘Strong Wind, Deep Roots’ (choreographed this May 2020) was performed

It has been both necessary to continue working through, and to restructure how to work in response to the present pandemic. A place many are in and still not unfamiliar to most: the work of reformation. The least that can be said is there’s a shock identifiable by all, and a need to set our intentions in response. Because so many people are continuing to work ‘outside’, I have been able to ‘stay in’. For this I have been grateful, and for having a home base from which to work. Working as a writer in an only digital space has been an exercise in memory while situating as a dancer and choreographer in a solely digital sphere has been an exercise in itself.

Prior to being able to shelter in place I was intentional about prioritizing mounting dance performances in public: coffee shops, park districts, classrooms, and art galleries, to normalize dance by meeting audiences where they frequent and to invite movement into everyday life. Inviting dance into everyday life breaks down an occidental connection to dance as a commodity and rebuilds a connection to dance as a social act. Working now has necessitated my artistic inquiry into how this happens in a digital sphere (what can be a private space): 1) In public space does the performer invite an audience while in private space the audience invites a performance? 2) What is the importance of confronting themes both publicly and privately? 3) How does the personal/public become public/personal and how does the public/personal become necessary?

I learned how to grow cucumber and tomato plants from my grandmother. I remember all of the bending and leaping, the catching and relaxing; shaping and rearranging. I’ve imagined the gardens she came from— her mother’s in Youngstown, Ohio, and the gardens before hers in Pensacola, Florida, before those in Cuba, and before those in the multitudes of somewheres on the African continent. My great-grandmother raised ducks, and canned pickles and hot peppers, her mother made sofritos, her mother before her was a Mambisa who probably raised bees and grew coffee in a mountain town, her mother before her worked a sugarcane plantation forced onto Cuba, her mother before her probably grew cashews in what is present day Nigeria, her mother before her probably grew tomatoes before she was forced across the Atlantic, her mother before her probably dried fish somewhere inland near Biafra, and I: raise hens and grow collard, tomato, and cucumber plants.

This performance is the journey of a seed braided into hair,

the foot path of a recipe in the mind,

the memory of a flavor combination on the tongue,

the oral history of a food preservation technique,

a harvest, of lands and seasons

The Heist // 2017

Three dancers, Kiana Cook, Chelz Jordan and Maya Odim, inspired by a literary trope created by James Baldwin, will take on the characters of thieves stealing ‘jewels of naïveté.’

what you do with finding out what you don’t know is important.

in the essay, “stranger in the village” james baldwin discusses some having possession of a ‘jewel of naiveté’— having something they cherish not knowing. baldwin’s trope transcends the idea that ignorance is bliss and confronts us with the reality that ignorance is an adornment.

baldwin writes about someone wearing this jewel in conversations about race and racial politics— an area where many avoid claiming the responsibility of knowledge by proclaiming their innocence through action or words like, “i didn’t know.”

inspired by baldwin’s essay, the heist imagines how the theft of this jewel can be a necessary function of any scenario:

when you resist a track, a lane, a box, or a definition someone didn’t realize didn’t apply to you, you steal that jewel.

when you do not define yourself by the expectations of others, you steal that jewel.

when you talk about current events, you steal that jewel.

when you practice your skills, you steal that jewel.
when you, play fool to catch wise, you steal that jewel.
when you ask for more information, you steal that jewel.
when you pay attention you steal that jewel.

when you know or when you learn where your ideas come from, you steal that jewel.

and when you steal the jewel, you steal the jewel. smuggle it past whatever is functioning as border— your heart/your mind, and don’t give it back.

the heist is not about finding morality or some agreed upon order, it’s about recognizing a tool and promoting its use. theft can be a form of provocation and provocation can be a necessary start.
not knowing is not proof and knowing is not innocence.
not knowing is not innocence and knowing is not guilt.

Cyphers // 2016

Placing Eyes In There // 2015

“Placing Eyes in There” debuted at the group show Yin Yang, 99¢ Plus Gallery, June, 2015, New York

Choreographic Credits Maya Odim, Jam Master Crew & B Boy Wayne Cauthen

Music Credits to Piztrumentals

Videography Credits to Dan M

I am big enough to fill you and you to overflow with
the comfort of pushed edges
tangling smoothly beneath royal palms

Tall enough
heavy footed
smiling enough

Fingers outstretched in air swooping down like

You captivate my hip movements
flying through, cupping air
sparks flying
my brains and their waves
and tiptoeing on sometimes jagged rocks
and melting into comfortably warm water
and jumping
and seeing new

You fly my arms up and around
you ache my heels
stretch me wide
drench me in salt waters.

Drenching us in salt waters
bouncing us wildly north.
Stretching my memory
right along side my arms
right along side my lower calf
comfortably pushing my edges
howling through my back/my back/my back
and placing eyes in there
you crack my hips pivoting me boundless

The Pilgrimage of Mouths // 2013

Choreographed & Performed by Maya Odim

Poetry written & performed by Kristiana Rae Colón

No Eggshells/Outside Part 1 // 2008

Performed at WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY, CENTER FOR THE ARTS, Middletown, CT (2008).

Dancers: Brittany Delany, Paul Hiam, Devon Hopkins, Maya Odim, and Samantha Sherman

Video: Pedro Alejandro/Marcela Oteiza

Music: Live, Adam Timkle/Rod O’Connor

Transforming a concrete terrace into a ‘soft surface’ performance space, No Eggshells/Outside deals with the notion that the ‘soft body’ is a central site for creativity and wholeness.