Choreography

reflection/my body is a church.

you don’t want no problems with me // it feels like blessings keep falling in my lap // i wish i could tell you it’s ready, tell you it’s ready today, but they don’t give nothing away. you gotta fight for your way // all my days, i’ve prayed and prayed, and now i see the finish line. oh i’m gonna finish mine // cuz at the end of the day [art] is all we got.

*cue praise dance*

Chance the Rapper has literally written the song[s] to this season of my life on his album Coloring Book. He inspires me in more ways than I can even articulate right now. Literally every single line above has been an affirmation, a prayer, a word for me when I have needed it most. The Lord has given that man the platform to change lives, and folks are being redeemed because of him. Beyond that, Lil Chano from 79th’s words has been especially applicable to my journey through my senior year to the piece that became known as my body is a church. Or, where the dance becomes sacred.

you don’t want no problems with me. “‘No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17 NIV

More than anything, this is an affirmation that my safety is in the Lord. God’s got me. You don’t want no problems with me because the One who is greater than us all is my shield. Don’t ever play yourself, homie. *DJ Khaled voice*

it feels like blessings keep falling in my lap. Really, truly. It seems like everywhere I turn, there is some new blessing that I don’t deserve. Opportunities that I didn’t know existed have been opened to me. Things that I didn’t know I was capable of, I am now doing. In the most unexpected ways, people keep speaking life into my dreams and goals and visions.

i wish i could tell you it’s ready, tell you it’s ready today, but they don’t give nothing away. you gotta fight for your way. This is such an affirmation for my future and an acknowledgment of how hard I’ve worked to get where I am today. My time at OSU has been the result of dedication, tenacity, and sacrifice from both me and my entire family. There have been people that told me that my artistic voice/vision wasn’t unique enough. There are people who don’t get it and who don’t want to. To get here, I’ve had to push them to the side and keep it moving. To get where I want to be, I’ll have to fight too.

all my days, i’ve prayed and prayed, and now i see the finish line. oh i’m gonna finish mine. When I tell you I heard these words pouring through my headphones the weekend of my senior concert and cried… Ya’ll. This senior project has been gestating within me for two years now. It’s incredible and surreal to me that I have this amazing, tangible thing to show for the seed that I have been nurturing. Beyond that, I’m about to graduate from college Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Creative Writing. I’m only the 2nd generation of my family to attend and graduate from college. My parents’ generation was the first. My grandparents don’t even fully comprehend what it is that I’m doing all the way up here in Ohio. They’re just proud of me because I’m doing something that they literally never even dreamed of doing. That’s why this finish line is so important to me. And when I become the first in my family to receive a masters degree and PhD, I’ll be doing it for them too.

cuz at the end of the day [art] is all we got. I’m so excited to be able to pursue my art full time. To be able to pour my time and energy into changing the world with my art. This thing that I just started on a whim when my family moved to South Carolina is my passion now. It’s my heart and soul.

I cannot express what a blessing it’s been to share my heart with the world. The Senior Concert was an absolute success for everyone involved. My classmates are truly incredible, and I can’t wait to see where we all go from here. Folks keep asking me if ‘my body is a church‘ is over, and for me that’s such a confirmation from the Lord that he’s not done with it yet.

Catch me next at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum on March 29th. I’m now writing my distinction thesis paper and will be defending my thesis later on in April.

My senior year is literally a month and a half away from being over. The journey has been amazing. See some amazing images from my senior project, my body is a church. Or, where the dance becomes sacred, below. Photo Credit: my lovely classmate, Hana Newfeld.

Love and Light,

Kylee

 

Bloodlines

This weekend my first choreographed work, a solo entitled Bloodlines, premiered in the OSU Department of Dance’s Spring concert, “Absolute Existence.”  This piece was inspired by the lineage of my ancestors as African Americans in the Deep South.  All my life, I have grown up hearing stories about how my family lived and worked in Abbeville, South Carolina.  I have been brought up with a strong sense of pride in the people from whom I come, and their experiences of lynching and discrimination have fueled my desire to be all that I can be and to take advantage of the opportunities that they risked their lives to provide me with.

My distant uncle, Anthony Crawford was lynched in Abbeville in 1916 because he refused to settle for the poor price that a buyer offered him for his cotton crop.  His legacy has traveled from generation to generation to me, and I have been rocked with the understanding that one of my blood relatives was murdered in cold, hateful, and evil blood.  It fills me with a sort of righteous indignation akin to what I feel when the media splashes the death and mistreatment of youth like Martese Johnson, Mike Brown, and Trayvon Martin across my news screen.

Wess McBride, my paternal great-grandfather, my Great-Granddaddy, was the first black police officer in Abbeville County, where his grandfather was lynched.  He was also the first black sheriff’s deputy in the county as well.  This was a man that I knew; a man of whom I have faded memories.  I remember going to his house and sitting on his scratchy couch.  I remember his wrinkly face.  I know the stories that my father still tells of the kind of man he was today.  He was an upstanding man of integrity — much like the kind of woman I am striving to be today,

Mary Alice Smith, my paternal grandmother, my Nana, truly lived the role of the Help.  She started in domestic work at a young age, working in the homes of many affluent families in Abbeville as well.  She raised some families’ children from infancy, and they still hold her in high regard for this today.  She went on to work in the sewing and textiles fields, and carried herself with the dignity our ancestors has passed down.  For this reason, she was favored, and placed in positions of prominence in these fields as well.

Lastly, Walter Smith, my paternal grandfather, my Papa, was a man who has further instilled in me the value of hard work.  He worked on CSX Railroad, formerly Seaboard Coastlines, from the age of 14 until he retired.  He laid rail all the way up and down the Eastern seaboard.  The hot southern sun turned his skin a deep ebony, earning him the nickname Blue Steel because his skin had a faint blue tint. My Papa passed away when I was 11, but the color of his skin is something that has always resonated with me.  I look so much like him; in my baby pictures, he holds me to his face and our skin mingles together, almost the same shade.  Thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes; I miss him so much.

These are the things that were in my spirit as I began the process of making this piece.  I wanted to honor my family, and all that they have done for me to be able to live the life that I currently enjoy.  Sharing this part of myself with the world has been an incredible experience.  I have been totally humbled by the responses that I have received, and I believe that it truly was a success.

I will close with the spoken word segment that I conclude my performance with:

These Bloodlines run strong in me. 

Coursing through my veins, driving me. 

See,

the blood on the root never dried. 

The fruit on the tree never died. 

No

A seed was planted. 

You — Uncle Anthony, Great-Granddaddy, Papa, Nana — live on in Me.

Below are pictures taken by my lovely classmate, Hana Newfeld, of Bloodlines.  

Enjoy.