Statement on Race + Gender
SLMDances is a creative home for trans, cis, nonbinary, queer, disabled, fat, masculine presenting, Black women and femmes of many generations. SLMDances is committed to paying and presenting these dancers always. This is a priority for the collective and its work.
The specificity and the nuance of SLMDances’ performances comes to light through the bodies that perform. The design of the dance creates space for individual voices, and thus speaks many languages. We do not believe we need to dilute our embodied cultural practices and experiences for audiences to enter and understand the work.
Due to our commitment to Black folks, the collective maintains a ratio of 60 percent Black folks represented to 40 percent non-Black people of color and white folks represented.
In a mixed-race collective with a mission that prioritizes the stories of Black folks, it is imperative that each artist understands their role. Some works, such as CAKE, may only be performed by Black dancers, although all dancers may play a role in creating and rehearsing the work. We invite white folks and non-Black people of color to step back while amplifying and lifting up the voices of Black folks.
Here are some ways white dancers and non-Black people of color best support the rehearsal process while deferring to Black voices in the room:
Lift up the voices -- enabling Black dancers to do their best work
Take it out into the world and hold your people accountable
Take pride in all bodies
Stop policing bodies, including your own
Be an understudy: 1. Learn and know all the choreography in order to be a resource
2. When you do step into the role, be mindful of how you do that
Be a sounding board
Be willing to sit with discomfort
Give feedback on how something is working/not working for the piece (steps, counts etc.), NOT on improvisational style or culturally specific material
In the event that the composition of our audience is majority Black, SLMDances is committed to shifting the composition of the artists cast in performance to better reflect the composition of the audience. If SLMDances has an indication that a space is going to be predominantly white, it is the intention of SLMDances to shift that dynamic by actively engaging and inviting community members of color into the space. Majority white is NEVER the ideal in our collective nor our audiences.
All SLMDances Creative and Visioning Partners are actively developing their gender and anti-racist analyses. SLMDances practices the anti-racist community organizing principles taught to us by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. It is our intention for all Creative Partners to be trained in their Understanding and Undoing Racism/Community Organizing workshop. Please earmark a donation to ensure Creative Partners entering the collective can engage in this learning experience.