My Experience at the L.A. Puppet Fest 2014: Illustrating the Life of Dominique Moody “The NOMAD” Through Dance.
This past weekend at the Elephant Theatre in Hollywood was one of the most exhilarating events in my life. It was my first puppet show, and I am very happy that I shared this experience with my son, as it was his first too.
A while ago, I was approached by renowned Puppeteer Beth Peterson whom I met while rehearsing for a show at KAOS in Leimert Park (Los Angeles) and was asked if I wanted to be part of her production at The Los Angeles Puppet Festival entitled “Tales of Longing and Belonging: The Losing, Finding and Making of Place”. My role as an artist was to illustrate parts of the Nomadic life of visual artist Dominique Moody through dance. Without hesitation, I said ‘Yes, it’s such an honor!’ Through my interaction with Beth, I learned about the incredible work of Dominique Moody in different Diasporas and spaces. Her work is larger than life- a quintessence of the human experience. Her visual narratives transcend history, and cultural landscapes and yet, it is still embedded in the African experience, both lived and imagined. She is an elder on whose shoulders I stand.
Before my scene began, I stood behind the curtain, watching carefully as everything unfolded. As the puppets, the puppeteers, the narrator and music, took audiences on a magical journey through space visiting constellation of stars in South Los Angeles (Watts), the audience laughed, cheered and clapped. At that moment, I was in the happiest state, I felt like a child again, and I was at peace.
Finally, my scene is about to begin. I wore my mask, my embroidered black dress, stretched and got ready. The sounds of the Djembe and DunDun thrust me on stage. As my body synchronized with each drumbeat, I felt like an oracle being summoned. Two gigantic puppets (Egungun: Masqurades) representing the ancestors of Dominique Moody were already on stage dancing, and awaiting my arrival. I danced amongst them in a circular motion, paying homage and acknowledging their divine presence. As the scene fades, I picked up a box representing the NOMAD and presented it to Dominique Moody siting in the audience. That moment was surreal. She smiled, the audience clapped and I danced back on stage.
Allow me to digress a little….
God in her/his infinite wholesomeness bring people together for reasons beyond our imagination. Life is never a coincidence. At this show I met amazing individuals from different parts of life. I found out about a Toronto based Rock band called “Walk Off The Earth”. The band is unique. I listened to some of their tracks on the way home and I fell in love with one of the band members after seeing her in many of their videos, singing and dancing on stage while heavily pregnant. As normal as this should be, it's unfortunately not. Women bodies are heavily politicized in music and the entertainment industry, and seeing a band embracing life and its possibilities in such manner is just awesome!
Remember, change is the only constant in life, embrace transitions, and don’t fight it.
This is LEPA (Leading Everyone to Participate in Africa).