A multidisciplinary ensemble established by choreographer/movement artist/vocalist Lela Aisha Jones, pianist/composer Luke Carlos O’Reilly, percussionist/composer/vocalist Alex Shaw, and filmmaker Aidan Un, Revivals of Blackness is a collaborative artistic offering to our kindred, honoring the life-giving contributions of global Black folks by staying real and more than well as we navigate legacies of U.S. racial violence. Commissioned by World Cafe Live in the summer of 2020, prompted in part by heightened attention to ongoing systemic racism in the U.S., this innovative multimedia performance is a dynamic ceremony interweaving music, dance, poetry, interviews, and visuals to illustrate the collective lived experiences of diasporic Blackness as effervescent, fluid, infinite, wayward, and always right on time.
As seasoned U.S.-based BIPOC artists, our artistry is intentionally intertwined with our activist practices - collective activations of our lived experiences and cultural knowledge grounded in generations of blackness. Revivals of Blackness was born from the collaborative culmination of our personal storied multidisciplinary journeys through diverse African diasporic music and dance traditions, bringing American jazz, R&B, gospel, and soul into informed cultural dialogue with Capoeira Angola, Afro-Cuban rumba, Afro-Brazilian samba & maracatu, Ewe drumming, and orisha songs from Yorubaland. Through our artistry, we assert that blackness be more centered, be acknowledged, be loved, be humanized, and be honored in all communities, particularly in white spaces and structures of power. Revivals of Blackness centers and challenges the ways we think about how Blackness intersects with ancestry, archive, ritual, and tradition, inviting us all to question and reflect upon the multitude of luscious ways that Blackness shapes our lives.
As an interdisciplinary project, Revivals of Blackness can be presented in various programmatic and spatial formats, including live performance, media exhibition, or a combination of these elements. It is also available as an 80-minute feature film. If a venue has the capacity, the film/visuals component can be integrated with the live performance. In addition to live performance and exhibition programming, Revivals of Blackness artists have a plethora of experience as community-engaged artists and arts educators and are available to engage audiences and classrooms in educational sessions, drumming and/or dance classes, live-streamed demonstrations, and community discussions.
“In these times I long to find and connect to sources that inspire me... this piece was so beautiful; so much love and joy expressed through the music, the movement, and the images. I thank you for this gift you've given me as a member of your community.”
— Denise Brown
“I am still without adequate words to describe my thoughts about the brilliance of your collaborative work. Every moment of the production was spellbinding. Each team member's contribution was more than stellar.”
— Dr. Ken Dossar
“I didn't even realize how much I needed to see and hear and experience this.”
— Satya Nelms
“I really enjoyed Revivals of Blackness; such a great group of artists as well as brilliantly developed and performed selections. The performance was so moving. Spirit permeates and transcends/transforms the performance experience (a truly special group of people). I can't imagine that most people would not be moved and elevated.”
— Dr. Joan Hamby Burroughs