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The food chain is only as strong as the weakest link and other thoughts leading up to this monster called, “Our Daily Bread”

March 31, 2011

DWDT dancer Eyla gettin' down in front of CounterPULSE

celebration!

It has been a minute since my last post and sooooo much has happened. The artistic crew who are conjuring this work, Our Daily Bread celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s day and Mardi Gras this year by having an Eat-In in the middle of the afternoon of Tuesday, March 8th. MJ’s Brass Boppers kicked it off by parading a second line for 3 blocks. We started at 8th and Mission and went up to Market St., went down Market to 9th and then snaked around the corner to end up in front of CounterPULSE on Mission at 9th, where they continued to play and we danced up a storm! Shoot, we would’ve paraded for more blocks but seeing as I didn’t have a permit and all, we figured we would go short to avoid possibly being shut down…

At any rate, we finished the celebration by potlucking in CounterPULSE where we ate REAL good! The incredible Bryant Terry showed up and made this incredible ginger bread that will be featured in his new cookbook coming out soon! Folks brought all kinds of goodies; homemade crepes, soups, salads and of course I made recession stew and Jamaican cornbread which I am about to switch up so folks don’t think it’s the only thing I make…

It was a great day which you can catch a glimpse of on the beautiful video Erica Jordan made that’s on the DWDT homepage and is on the CounterPULSE website. It was quite a celebration.

Then, that Friday, Japan got hit with an earthquake and Tsunami and for me- everything changed even more…

Listen… the making of this piece, Our Daily Bread has been life changing for me and my work as a choreographer and performer. I have long been an artist whose work is rooted in addressing issues of racism, spirituality, environment and culture. But making this piece, Our Daily Bread has changed everything for me…it could be the last piece I make with Deep Waters Dance Theater…Food.Is.Everything.

I realize in writing this that I am jumping around… I am not a linear thinker so forgive me if this is frustrating but I come from a long line of tangent driven story tellers who will always tie everything together in the end..it’s our way….

You can go back to earlier posts to get a sense of what brought me to the point of making this dance theater work so I won’t repeat it now. But what I will say is I had no idea when I embarked on this journey where it would take me, how it would conjure up senses, tastes and feelings within me that I never knew possible. The stories people have shared with me; from food parties at CounterPULSE,  in homes in the Bay Area, Brasil, New Orleans, Senegal and  dance studio lobbies to Mark D’acquisto’s economics class at Mission High School- I am forever changed and I know I have yet to scratch the surface.

What I know is food is love, food is life….

So what the hell are we doing?

Our disconnect from the sources of our food, a chain which includes, first and foremost the earth, the way so much of our food is grown or raised then killed, the people that do it, the way it is processed, packaged, sprayed, transported- How are we complacent about the way this all goes down?

As my wise friend Fe Bongolan says, “Convenience is a cancer”.

Now the Nuclear meltdown in Japan.

Please do not talk about natural disasters. Nature did not make nuclear power plants which are all over our planet, including our Shaky State of California.

This has everything to do with food. Radiation from the melt down (call it what it is) is seeping into the soil near the plant in Japan. It is also being detected in the ocean. Eventually it will infect the fish and seafood that people eat (if it hasn’t already) and is a huge staple in the Japanese diet.

This is one earth/home…we are all affected…and so is our food.

I am so angry that I let this happen. The nuclear melt down, the gulf oil spill, the death of farm workers working in the fields in inhumane conditions and all of the ways that my mindless eating and food choices has supported the destruction of this planet.

Yet I am trying to be compassionate. First to myself as someone who is trying to change habits that are destructive to our home/earth, and then to others….

I am making a dance that hopefully reflects this journey about food.  I have been praying a lot in this process…I don’t know how this work will be received but the process has been an awakening that will continue for me beyond this show. What I do know is that in the tradition of my African and Native American ancestors, dance expresses not only our joy but our grief and determination to get through some how and this is how my artistic collaborators and myself are continuing to approach this piece…

I think that is what this piece is really about- how to get through this and survive…

Give thanks, be thoughtful and eat well.

Red beans and ricefully yours…

Amara

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