Black Dance Stories with Jamar Roberts and Tiffany Rae-Fisher
Black Dance Stories is exactly what it sounds like and precisely what we need right now. It’s a distillation of insightful moments in post-performance talkbacks spliced with casual conversations you once shared over drinks, plus powerful sentiments you’re overhearing now at BLM protests. It’s a vital convocation: Black dance makers sharing anecdotes, shouting out ancestors, unpacking histories, and, of course, talking about their artistic processes. The series, aired live on Youtube every Thursday and archived on the Black Dance Stories channel, features vital conversations on dancing/making/teaching while Black.
This evening, Jamar Roberts (Alvin Ailey) and Tiffany Rea-Fisher (Elisa Monte Dance) joined Kimani Fowlin, Nick Hall, and Charmaine Warren, who created a lively space for genuine discussion while encouraging an informal tone and regular toasts.
[Charmaine: Everybody! Pull your glasses of wine out! Cheers!]
Jamar, whose birthday is on July 27, offered his experiences as a resident choreographer and dancer with Ailey, mentioning that Black Dance Stories filled his need for community discussions about making work. He unpacked his choreographic reckoning with Don Pullen’s piano score for Ode (premiered 2019) and articulated a newfound understanding of pandemic-enforced introspection as self-care.
[Jamar: I’m doing this with my hands, I’m thinking of a flower, I’m thinking of some kind of expulsion…*smiles radiantly*]
Tiffany, conjured into conversation with Jamar by Charmaine, spoke about her own discomfort with the parameters and standards surrounding Black dance. She and Jamar fangirled over Kyle Marshall and talked luck, talent, and inclusivity.
[T and J: …They smelled so good…cocoa butter was wafting towards me]
Tiffany spoke about Black dance breaking away from a monolithic Black identity and moving towards specific Black experiences in motion. Her particular trajectory was full of blown-out meniscuses, dance history revelations in the SUNY Purchase library, and constant questions about her legitimacy in the Black dance community.
[T: Through dance, I found my place. I found my patriotism, I found my Blackness, I found my me-ness.]
The pandemic, for Tiffany, served as an affirmation of her community connections and became a whirlwind of virtual activity in the form of choreographing, teaching, and organizing protests.
[T: And…can’t nobody tell me NOTHING.]
The live chat, a colorful scroll below the video, reinforced a positive vibe and reminded the conversants there was a very active audience: Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Danni Gee, and Monique Martin, among others, sprinkled the feed with emojis, exclamations, and queries. Charmaine picked out questions to answer with Jamar and Tiffany, and made sure to appreciate everyone with kisses and raised fists.
[C: Drop your questions in the chat box!]
In short, Black Dance Stories stands apart from stiff panels that tokenize and sell short the artists involved. Here, Black dance makers speak their truth for each other, and you happen to be listening. It’s a party and a confessional, a lecture, a love letter, a reaffirmation of community, and a revision of creative narratives long dominated by white folks. There’s another installment coming on July 16, featuring Cynthia Oliver and Marjani Forté-Saunders. We’re going to need more wine!
[Kimani: Friends watching, raise your glass! Black Dance Stories, you are amazing! Cheers!]