Tuesday night we went to the 7th annual line Breaks Festival final performance night at UW Madison. The LBF is an event featuring youth culture performance art and spoken word pieces with hip-hop and urban themes using multi-media. The first two performances of the evening featured UW students and the 3rd and final performance featured guest artist DawN Crandell of NYC.
The first piece was titled Don't Just Stand There and was written and performed by Marlon Eric Lima. His was a one man narrative chronicling his struggles as a young Latino man fighting, along with his family, for legal status and a better life in America. How to progress in the wake of those trying circumstances was the subject of his piece. Lima used spoken word narrative and break dancing to covey his message. I must say that I had trouble following his story but Greg, one of the people I went with, later explained it to me and then I got it. The fact that I had trouble following but Greg clearly did not might boil down to presentation rather than content. Maybe I was just distracted by his young Latin boy machismo and/or his electric dance moves. In retrospect, I saw a talented and insightful young man mature beyond his years. With that said he is sure to go far.
The second piece was a dance performance entitled The S**t We Go Through by Niko Tumamak. It was about an Asian guy who finds himself constantly in conflicts on campus over racism. In the end, he over comes his tendency to react to peoples ignorance and even ends up with a Caucasian girlfriend, who is the ballet dancer in the piece. This one I found easy to follow despite the fact that Tumamak was just as much a looker as Lima. There were no words spoken in the piece but an interesting thing I found out during a talk back session after the show was that all of the movements were based on a word. For example, the dancer was challenged to find a way to express a word like joy physically instead of verbally. All of the movement was based on a script that was seen and not heard. I was also impressed with the fact that the piece blended ballet, break dance and modern. I found this unique because most dance pieces I've seen use only one genre.
The third and final piece was called Xenophobadelica and was written and performed by the events guest artist DawN Crandell. This piece was a one women spoken word narrative of Crandell's life as a young girl growing up female, a person of color and a bi-sexual in the 1980's and 90's. Recording star Prince had been a saving grace and muse for Crandell and his music and influence were featured in the piece. I found this piece to be very professional, concise, interactive and entertaining. It is clear that Crandell is a seasoned artist. However, I do question how an artist like Prince could be a life line and muse to a bi-sexual, feminist women. I too grew up listening to Prince. His objectification of women, statements that many would deem homophobic and use of androgynous and transgender persona's without due credit to the LGBT community might seem contradictory to some. I for one feel that it serves as a catalyst for dialogue and speaks to Crandells complexity as a human being. If you would like to learn more about Line Breaks Festival or the OMAI, Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives go to www.linebreaks.wisc.edu for more information.