Music, movement, and politics take root at the MCA Dance Fest | Dance | Chicago Reader

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Music, movement, and politics take root at the MCA Dance Fest

Tamar-kali's Demon Fruit Blues and Damon Locks's Where Future Unfolds use the black musical heritage to explore contemporary problems.


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The MCA kicks off three weeks of new movement and music programming with works in progress by punk rock singer-composer Tamar-kali and vocalist/DJ/visual artist Damon Locks that explore black musical lineages and their relationships to present political problems.

Tamar-kali's Demon Fruit Blues, created in collaboration with choreographer Adia Whitaker and director Charlotte Brathwaite, is a theatrical concert experience that traces the Judeo-Christian roots of misogyny to Eve's apple. "Under the climate we are experiencing politically as a nation, clarity is important," says Tamar-kali. "It's important for women and people of color to own their narratives. If you don't speak your truth, a story gets projected onto you. That's what we got as women, we got the 'demon fruit blues.'"

Locks's Where Future Unfolds juxtaposes visual projections with live gospel singers, drums, and samples of speeches and song from the civil rights movement. By highlighting voices from the past, such as Angela Davis talking about incarceration or Ossie Davis reading Langston Hughes, Locks shows the excruciatingly slow march of progress. "I have records from the 50s, 60s, and 70s talking about the same issues we're talking about today," he says. "Sampling propels their voices but emphasizes that this has been happening forever."

The celebration of shared stages and new work continues with the six 2017-2018 Chicago Dancemakers Forum fellows presented at the SHareOUT! festival. For the past 15 years, CDF has offered financial support and mentorship to local choreographers so they can spend a year developing original works. This is the first time their projects will be presented in one venue.

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