I wanted to highlight a student in the dance department for the last post highlighting Black History Month. Brooke Alexandria Taylor is a second year dance major that has organized #DanceforFlyod, created a screen dance entitled A Repetitious Narrative, and hosted an anti-racist staff and student assembly this past week. She has worked tirelessly to address issues behind racism in and out of the department. I asked her about her experience organizing and creating such important works.
Can you tell us about #DanceforFloyd ? How did it start?
“This past summer I planned a protest entitled Drive In For Justice, which was a safe protest for the Black Lives Matter Movement that encouraged attendees to remain in their car. Through organizing this protest I discovered that I truly find joy in protest organization and giving people a platform to express their emotions. To create more awareness surrounding racial injustice. However, when the summer time ended and it was time to return to The University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus, I did not want to let my efforts for the Black Lives Matter movement to end. I had the idea to plan another protest focusing on artistic expression.”
What was the process like? How did you find dancers to participate and a space to share this?
“The dancers in the protest had a variety of academic backgrounds and belong to several schools within The University of Michigan. The artists were all African American, but there were also so many other supporters that showed their allyship with their presence and protest signage. We danced in the intersection of South State Street and North University and it was a huge open space that was beautifully covered in art by students at The University of Michigan.”
Why did you decide to dance rather than march?
“The artistic protest was an 8 minute and 46 second improvisational experience, this duration represents the amount of time George Floyd suffocated with a knee in his neck by Derek Chauvin. The protest was designed mainly for dancers to express themselves and to experience the concept of time in relation to movement.”
I was also watching your A Repetitious Narrative, it’s beautiful. What inspired you to create a screendance and what was that process like?
“A Repetitious Narrative was truly a composition assignment from one of my classes in the Dance Department. The assignment was to create a piece focusing on perspective and I wanted the audience to watch in the perspective of a man being followed because of the color of his skin. The entire process included a choreographic walk, along with dance improvisation and videography by Mariah Stevens.”
This past week Brooke also organized an anti-racist assembly for students and staff within the dance department. At this assembly we heard from students past and present talking about their experiences within the department regarding race. It was a tough assembly to sit through and hear about experiences that my peers have lived through and have dealt with, not necessarily experiences of direct racism but micro-aggressions and ignorance by staff and students alike. I was in shock at how many of their experiences are a daily occurrence and often overlooked, I could not believe by some of the ignorant conversations they shared, but then again, I know I am not perfect myself and have definitely made unaware, uneducated comments. This assembly allowed me to stop and think about many of my actions and moving forward I was act and speak with more awareness to the best of my ability.
Here is Brookes screendance A Repetitive Narrative