For the final study in my Composition II course, we were directed to make a piece, 3-4 minutes long, to a song/sound/music of our choice. Pretty much there weren’t many parameters set for us. I had been sitting with an idea for a piece that I was already calling “Bloodlines” in my head, and I decided to use this assignment to begin to develop it. “Bloodlines” is an exploration of two of my greatest passions: dancing and writing. I wanted to integrate spoken word into dance, allowing myself to share everything that I had with my audience — the things that I cannot articulate in words through dance and the things that I can best say through poetry.
This piece is for my people — my ancestors. I have grown up with a strong sense of familial pride. More recently, I have learned the story of how my great great great uncle, Anthony Crawford, was lynched in Abbeville, South Carolina, in 1917. My great Granddaddy was the first black deputy sheriff in Abbeville, which is recognized as the birthplace and deathbed of the Confederacy. He could not even arrest a White man for breaking the law on his own. My Papa helped to build the CSX railway up and down the East coast, a hard and cruel work. His peers called him “Blue Steel” because his skin was a deep ebony that looked blue at times. My Nana worked in many of the affluent white households around town for many years; there were times when she had to neglect her own children in order to take care of theirs. It is hard for me to explain articulately in words, but all of these things stir my soul in a very powerful way. Today, my Nana is one of the most well-known and respected women in the Abbeville community among both blacks and whites. I am here at The Ohio State Univeristy, majoring in dance, a concept which could have only been a figment of her imagination for a significant portion of her life and that sometimes she still struggles to understand completely. My great Granddaddy and Papa passed away many years ago, but not before they could touch my life in an immense way. I wanted to make a dance that recognized them. The life, blood, sweat, prayers, and tears that my family gave up in order for me to have the present in which I am living.
I didn’t want this dance to be done at the end of my composition class, so I decided to conquer my fear and adjudicate it for the Department of Dance’s spring concert. (Adjudication is basically like an audition, but to put a choreographic work into a performance.) I entered into the process with one goal, to put my name out there. I wanted the Department to become more aware of my presence, and essentially know, that in the midst of all the amazing talent that we have here, Kylee C. Smith is here, and she has something to add too. Being selected for the concert was a dream of a dream.
I guess I should have more confidence in myself. I was shocked beyond words when I received an email saying that my piece was among those that had been selected.
So, “Bloodlines” lives on, and as with any life, it will grow and stretch and change over time. I am incredibly excited to be given this opportunity.
Below is the most recent video of the work. Excuse the blurry quality, but technology and I don’t see eye to eye right now. Don’t worry, I’ll be keeping you updated and posting more videos soon!
Blessings, Love, and Light.