July 7, 2011

Kartee is Riwa

By Lori Young-Williams

I was asked to be part of an artistic performance for Refugee & Immigrant Woman for Change (RIWC) – International Women’s Day at St. Catherine University. The performance was speaking to gender equity. I was the narrator, reading statements from various family and community members in a refugee woman’s life. The performance was an adaptation by Kao Kalia Yang to highlight to highlight findings from the RIWC focus groups conducted late last year.

I was Kartee, the narrator, the only one speaking through the performance as different family  and community members, dancers, wrapped a scarf around the women in the middle who were named Riwa. Kartee summoned these members to join Riwa on stage.

Here is my take on the performance and how it touched me. These are thoughts written the day of the performance, March 8, 2011.

Strong women are global

Kartee is Riwa. She lives inside Riwa’s body. She is part of Riwa’s community. She is part of her culture. Kartee has been feared in times past and present. But she is still with us. Riwa need not worry. Kartee is there. She just needs Riwa to light the spark…

As women we forget that being a leader is not a bad thing. Wishing, wanting, needing more is not a bad thing. Kartee is a spirit we must exercise.  When Kartee is silent, sometimes it doesn’t do us any good.

Kartee is the symbol of strength in the performance that was done by Ananya Dance Theater at the International Women’s Day Conference at St. Cate’s on March 8, 2011. Kartee is strength and Riwa has to do what she can to get through the days and doesn’t know what standing up for herself will bring her. But Riwa knows lying down is not the answer.

Kartee grows in Riwa. Riwa , her family, and her community learn to accept and appreciate Kartee. And Kartee finds her space and place in Riwa’s life.

As a woman of color living in the Midwest I have had to re-learn the importance of being true to myself. I knew how to be true to my family and my community, but not to myself. Somewhere along the way I learned through example, media, and social cues not to take care of myself first. That was selfish. But tapping into Kartee women regain themselves again and that makes their communities that much stronger.

Kartee lives within me and joins me, now on my journey – our journey.

I ask Kartee to take up space in our lives.

June 25, 2011

Welcome to the Blog!

As part of our efforts to continuously connect to our communities we have decided to enter into the realm of blogging. Research conduced by our choreographer, dancers and collaborators informs our work as part of our creative process.  For the first time, ADT is opening this process to the public, something that has only been available to our performers and collaborators. This is our way to deepen conversations, spread awareness, and continue the dialogue outside the studio and beyond the performance.

Two of the main contributors come from the ADT Board of Directors.  Lori Young-Williams, local writer will reflect on the research and rehearsal process.  Visual artist, Ayanna Muata, will create image-collages that explore the thematic foci. Additional contributions will concentrate on community events, interviews with our collaborators and local Artists/Activists, and company spotlights.

Please join our conversation by commenting and contributing often!