This blog will serve as our centralized discussion. Each week, you will post a blog entry following the prompts provided. You are welcomed to include other themes and/or thoughts beyond the prompt that are important and relevant to you. Each student will also comment on at least two other blog entries. Please create a meaningful title for each entry and remember to categorize it under the assigned week, ie: WEEK ONE, WEEK TWO, etc…. These entries will later inform the creation of your digital stories. Remember that you should always take your notebook to class/rehearsals to jot down any impressions, reflections, and ideas. Those will be valuable private notes to inform your blog entries and also to record any personal reflections that you might not be ready to share publicly but that are important for you to document for your own process.
WEEK ONE: Post a blog entry reflecting on the first class with MK Abadoo and VCU students. Discuss the class agreements that were generated and your experience of the movement exercises. Consider the following questions: What characterizes MK’s teaching approach? What kind of class culture is being cultivated? What values are embodied in the pedagogical approach and classroom experience? What resonated with you? What was challenging? What do you expect from this experience? What question(s) came up for you for further consideration?
WEEK TWO: Questions to consider for response of the Gabriel Week event produced by Untold RVA and directed by Free Egunfemi: How is the event conceived and organized? Who is present, both participating and in attendance? How are the African Burial Ground and the unmarked former Richmond City Gallows activated through this event? How is dance/music/theater activated as community organizing (following the definition that MK offered of community organizing as bringing people together for a common purpose)? How do commemoration, performance, and ritual intersect in this event? What was of particular interest to you? What surprised you? What was challenging for you? What did you learn? What new questions came up for you?
WEEK THREE: Questions to consider as you reflect on the exhibit Determined: The 400 Year Struggle for Black Equality at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. What was particularly interesting to you? What surprised you? What did you learn? What do you think was missing from the exhibit and why do you think it would have been important to include it? How does this exhibit help you think about who gets to tell their stories and how they get tell them? Often, people refer to the term African American history, at the same time there are scholars who invite us to think about this as American history. Why might that distinction be important? What might be gained or lost in thinking about it in that way? What new questions did the exhibit and/or your conversation with Free Egunfemi bring up for you? Reminder: Do reference any of the readings and/or discussions from this course and any other relevant resources in your reflection.
WEEK FOUR: As you begin to prepare to create a digital story during the second half of the semester, you will look at some digital stories made by other students at UR. Go to the Digital Stories content area in this site and click on the Powerpoint presentation. Access the sample digital stories that are provided in the presentation. View the one on Harvey Milk and at least three more. Choose two samples for which you will write a reflection in this week’s blog entry. Questions to consider: What attracted you about the digital story? Did you learn something new about the subject matter? Were you moved by the story? What was your takeaway? What were some elements in how the digital story was constructed that worked particularly well? Why? What elements did not work as well? Why? From watching these samples, what would you like to be able to either include (either subject matter and/or construction technique) in your own digital story? What do you realize now that you would want to exclude or avoid?
WEEK FIVE: In preparation for attending the performance of Camille A. Brown & Dancers on Friday, September 27:
1. Study Camille A. Brown & Dancers Website (read and view video clips): https://www.camilleabrown.org/camille
2. View the TED Talk: A Visual History of Social Dance in 25 Moves
5. After studying the materials and before attending the performance, articulate one question you could pose to the choreographer and/or dancers in the company that is informed by your experience in this course and the making of Brother General Gabriel.
6. Submit performance reflection in blog: Include your initial question and consider the following questions: What characterizes the work of Camille A. Brown? How does her commitment to social justice manifest through her choreographic and educational work? How is her work similar or different from other dance companies you are familiar with? What connections can you make between the readings for this course, your work with MK and Free, and this course? Articulate a new generative questions that the work elicited for you.
WEEK SIX: Attend the performance of Appropriate (written byBranden Jacobs-Jenkins; directed by Prof. Dorothy Holland) in the Department of Theatre and Dance. This week, your blog entry will be a 15 minute free-write following the performance. Set an alarm and write your unedited response to the play in those 15 minutes. Remember that you are responding both from your experience in the moment and also bringing forward your experiences in this course, the history you are learning, and your embodied experiences in the making of Brother General Gabriel.
WEEK SEVEN: Choose one of the responses you wrote for MK and post it in that Blog Entry. Include what the prompt was for that response.
WEEK EIGHT: Submit your midterm reflections on the creative process and performance of Brother General Gabriel. As discussed in class, each student has their own questions, themes, and focus for the reflection.
WEEK NINE: Read Chapter 5: ‘The Perfection of Racialized Slavery 1720-1861″ (pp.76-100) in Richmond’s Unhealed History by Benjamin Campbell. Choose one section of the reading that you will share and comment in class. Why are you interested in this particular section? What moved, surprised, or challenge you? How does it expand your understanding of the history of Virginia, Richmond, and/or Gabriel’s Rebellion? Post the section you will discuss and a brief response in this blog entry.
WEEK TEN: Read: Chapter 6: “Capital City of Slavery 1780-1861” (pp. 101-123) in Richmond’s Unhealed History by Benjamin Campbell. Choose one section of the reading that you will share and comment in class. Why are you interested in this particular section? What moved, surprised, or challenge you? How does it expand your understanding of the history of Virginia, Richmond, and/or Gabriel’s Rebellion?
WEEK ELEVEN: Attend and write a response to Cross Currents at the American Civil War Museum (choreographed by Charlotte Boye-Christensen for members of NOW-ID and select members of University Dancers), as part of the Tucker Boatwright Festival–Dancing Histories: This Ground. Your blog entry will be a 15 minute free-write following the performance. Set an alarm and write your unedited response to the play in those 15 minutes. Both Cross Currents and Brother General Gabriel were billed as site-specific performances. You could compare and contrast the ways in which they approached working at each site. Remember that you are responding both from your experience in the moment and also bringing forward your experiences in this course, the history you are learning, and your embodied experiences in the making of Brother General Gabriel. You can consider the following: 1) aspects of the event that were most interesting to you (ie: choreography, content, production elements); 2) What moved you or surprised you? 3) What new questions arise for you?
WEEK TWELVE: Write a response to the Power Analysis sessions that you did with MK. Include at least 3 main areas/points that were important for you to consider throughout the process of analysis. Consider thinking about the following questions: 1) What do you now see with more clarity after going through this workshops? 2) What surprised you? 3) Did anything move you emotionally, if so what and why? 3) What other areas/systems would you be interested in analyzing that were not covered in the short time available? 4) What new questions came up for you?
WEEK THIRTEEN: Attend the performance of Pure Confidence (written by Carlyle Brown; directed by Prof. Chuck Mike) in the Department of Theatre and Dance. This week, your blog entry will be a 15 minute free-write following the performance. Set an alarm and write your unedited response to the play in those 15 minutes. Remember that you are responding both from your experience in the moment and also bringing forward your experiences in this course, the history you are learning, and your embodied experiences in the making of Brother General Gabriel.
WEEK FOURTEEN: This blog entry is intended for responses to events that you attended as alternative to the performances you were not able to attend and/or extra credit for missed classes. For example, 1) Attend the exhibit Great Force at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) @ VCU. This would be particularly interesting in relationship to the other exhibit you saw, “Determined” 2) Go to the movie Harriet. This would be interesting also because MK told us how influenced she was by Harriet Tubman in her earlier choreographic work. And other events shared by email with the class. Submit a response from the lens of our studies in this course on the use of the arts as a tool for social justice. What new questions arise for you? Please specify the event you attended and include the date and location.