The Sweetgoddess Project (2010-2011) continues my ongoing inquiry into defining what I see as core concepts and principles of a house aesthetic.
While women have long been essential to the sounds and scenes of house as vocalists, dancers and DJs, this urban performance tradition is often narrated as a male-dominated practice and cultural space. The Sweet Goddess Project rectifies this lack of acknowledgement by embracing the presence of femininity, community, sensuality, pleasure and empowerment as integrated components of Chicago house culture.
Based on a series of choreographic works I created previously addressing themes around Chicago house music and dance (2006, 2008, 2009), The Sweet Goddess Project further defines my ethnographically engaged creative process. Ethnographic and choreographic strategies will intersect to generate creative material including collecting oral histories/personal stories, defining local cultural lexicons (or glossary of cultural terms, movements, gestures, sounds, etc.) and identifying urban artifacts (e.g. music, landmarks, fashion, flyers).
As a precursor to the larger work, I have just completed setting “Disco duet,” a new piece addressing women’s sensuality, sexuality and spirituality as intersecting aspects of disco, a main predecessor of Chicago house music. Built in three sections and set to the music of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, the duet blurs between representations of women as disco glam warriors, urban royalty and Orisha-inspired goddesses. The collaboration features a creative partnership between Diasporic Movement Researcher Meccasia Zabriskie (Collaborating Artist), Urban Dance Activist Boogie McClarin (Collaborating Artist) and myself as Artistic Director.The piece also features a video montage of spoken word excerpts filmed by David Weathersby and performed by Abra Johnson. The duet was adapted to film in late Spring 2010 and is currently being edited (see the trailer below to view some of the footage from the piece.) Other creative associates contributing to the project include visual artist Michelle Mashon and makeup artist Eunita Carter.