Harriet – Alternative Event

Harriet: Watched on November 30, 2019 in Brooklyn, NY


The movie starts with Minty’s master refusing to give Minty and her family the freedom her and her family rightly deserve. This leads to Minty praying for her master to die if god can’t get through to him, and a few days later he does. The master’s son overheard Minty when she was praying so he decides to sell her because he blamed her and god for his father’s death. Minty refused to be sold, so she decided to run. The movie then shows her journey to freedom, and the turmoil and chaos that she fought through in order to make enslaved Africans free. Throughout the movie we see how God is speaking to Harriet allowing her to complete her mission of freeing her people. 

A part that I liked was when “Minty” aka Harriet Tubman was leaving and saying goodbye to her mother and she did it through song. And then her mother joined her while one of the masters was looking for her so it threw him off her scent. I think this was a good part because it depicted how slaves during this time communicated through songs. It was what helped them to make it through the hard times and also gave them hope for a better day. We see throughout the film when she becomes an underground railroad conductor and uses these spirituals to signal to slaves when she’s in the area and ready to help those who wanted to escape. In a way it reminded me of 12 Years a Slave when Soloman finally decided to start singing. It showcased how music represented liberation, self-expression, and hope, which is something I think the music in Harriet also displayed.

Overall I enjoyed the movie. I think that the movie was able to really show Harriet’s fighting spirit. She never gave up and continued to fight for what she believed and wanted. This is similar to Gabriel’s Rebellion because although he wasn’t successful, he was very adamant and fought for what he wanted. He spent months planning for his rebellion and speaking with folks all over Virginia. I also think the movie did a good job of showing her as the hero that she is but it also showed how she was an actual person with feelings and issues outside of this heroic image. The same goes for Gabriel in the sense that he should be treated as an actual person with feelings and has the right to be commemorated and honored as such. I can easily see how MK used this movie to influence our class and the analysis we did throughout the course.

One question that I had was why did the director choose not to elongate certain scenes or depict all emotions from a particular event or moment? There were some moments that I felt should have portrayed more emotion from the actors, causing the audience to feel a bit more provoked. Why was this not done? Was the director holding back?

Cross Currents Reflection

This piece was choreographed by Charlotte Boye-Christensen for members of NOW-ID and some members of University Dancers. The style of the choreography was based in ballet but was mixed with many modern aspects. It was performed outside the main entrance of the American Civil War Museum, Historic Tredegar which added breathtaking scenery and lighting to the performance that formed it into a magnificent piece of art. There was also an aspect of poetry added throughout the performance which led me to find a deeper meaning in the performance. Overall, I found the way all these performance elements came together created an experience that was beautiful and powerful, even in the cold nights air.

Of all the sections of the performance I found the duet between Julia and Karen to be the most striking because the contrast between the music and their movements. The music was jazzy with a sharp rhythm while their movements were very calm and controlled, moving in a way that should have apposed but somehow meshed well with the music. The costumes that all the performers wore were very complementary especially with the lights illuminating them in different colors depending on the mood of the dance. The lighting designer, Cole Adams, did an incredible job not only lighting the dancers but also the walls and space around the site making the aged walls of the museum reflect the mood of the piece and turning them into part of the performance. My favorite part about the lighting was seeing the shadows of the dancers on the brick walls behind them, I wasn’t sure if this was intentional or not but either way it brought movement to the space, one reason why it was interesting to have the performance be site specific.

Throughout the performance, I tried to find the intention and meaning of the piece but due to the constant switching of the music it was difficult for me to understand. The live poetry allowed me to focus my ideas and then use what I had just heard to interpret the next dance section. In general, I felt the meaning to do with a strong collective of people fighting for a cause and the gradual branching out of individuals, first Julia and then Karen, to be different and start a revolution. The performance, being site specific, also brought attention to the James River shoreline and the old Tredegar ironworks facility. Being able to see such a powerful performance that was fully orchestrated in only two weeks was an amazing opportunity. I loved the way the dancer’s movements and the poet’s voice were illuminated by the surroundings. I hope there are more opportunities in the future to experience other sight specific works because they are each so incredibly unique.

Cross Currents

Cross Currents was a beautiful and powerful site-based performance. The choreographer looked intentional and everything made sense. Along with the choreographer, the way the dancers used the space, the music, the poem, and the lighting created a strong narrative that never left the audience bored.

The choreography was more gestural than anything else. The dancers used their arms; they performed a lot movements that brought the arms and hands in and close to the body and then back out away from the body. A lot of arm movements were repeated throughout the performance. The dancers also performed a low walk that had a bounce to it. The dancer’s bodies were close to the ground and they moved along the space with that movement multiple times. It provided a sense of the dancers trying to bear weight on their backs. The first person to perform the low squat/walk was the first soloist. Then the rest of the dancers did it. All of the dancers moving together with a sense of weight on them provided a sense of community and empathy. All of them appeared to be feeling or creating the same emotions with their bodies and it allowed the audience to clearly see their story. The group pieces generally provided choreography that made all the dancers move in unison or in a ripple/cannon effect. The connectedness in the choreographer also added to the aspect of community and all the dancers being there for each other. Overall, The choreographer created a group of women who were experiencing the same situation and were getting through it together. 

The dancers utilized the whole space and never stopped performing. Even when the dancers left the lit area, they had to gracefully walk away from the scene until the audience could not see them anymore. It showed power within the space and as if there was an energy that was running through the dancers the whole time. After the performance, one of the most interesting things I learned about the piece was about its references to the train station that is right beside the museum. There was a train sound in parts of the music and the reference was clear. The lighting included in the performance was well done. It lit the dancers and the space well and it did not create a distraction. It transformed the space from just a museum to a space that provides an artistic narrative to be told; it also created and set the tone for the performance. Along with the lighting, the costumes were simple. The simplicity of it allowed the audience to really pay attention to the movements and the dancers themselves. The costumes looked old as well which created a historical appearance to them.

The performance was well done and showed how site-based performances can create a different experience for the dancers and the audience. It is different to watch a performance on a stage than it is to be outside and on the same level as the dancers. It allows the audience to feel more connected to the work and the audience are more likely to remember their experiences.

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