Diane offers some initial reflections on the ALP gathering at Prismatic Festival in Halifax in September/October.
Sometimes a title is just a title chosen in the moment to satisfy a proposal. Sometimes the title tells the whole story.
From the moment the first wave of our team moved and arrived together (Lydie Dubuisson, Gregorio Pablo Rodrguez-Arbolay, and I), we experienced the warmth and care offered by Prismatic AD Raeesa Lalani and Technical/Stage Manager Jessie Walker.
Our first day landing included a tour of the Africville Museum. Executive Director Juanita Peters generously offered us the opportunity to preview her incredible Africville Histories project—an audio walking tour soon to be publicly released. What a blessing it was to feel our feet as we walked the Africville park site listening to the stories of the Black Loyalist and Maroon settlers who lived, worked, and thrived on these same lands and waters prior to their violent extraction.
Our next stop was the Bus Stop theatre — our soon to be home away from home for the following five days. Our time at Bus Stop was a whirlwind as we dove in to explore the relationship between our Ancestors and our art; between intersecting cultural lines; between liminal and physical space; between rhythm and song; gesture and story. We were well supported by Jessie as well as Assistant Stage Manager Kanye Tariq Johnson, and Assistant Technical Director Amelia George.
Clusters of belonging seemed to emerge with unexpected lines of connection between Ancestors who were forced to leave and those who arrived: an archway to first and last steps. A water song was found as Black Atlantic memory transformed sorrow into ceremony. A taiko call brought its own rhythmic life force while in cyberspace, sounds from across the Ocean filtered through as Ibadan met K’Jipuktuk, feeding and being fed by the seeding process.
The first fruits shared by the diaspora kidz collective (who moved heaven and earth to arrive) conjured continuities, contradictions, and collaborations through a whimsical journey into unknowing.
It was not all sunshine and light. There were difficult and beautiful lessons that came from this experiment—much of which will be uncovered in the coming months as we meet again to unpack the highs and lows of this extraordinary gathering.
Much gratitude goes to our stunning hosts at Prismatic Festival: Raessa, Kelly, and Sophie who went above and beyond to welcome us with open arms.