To commemorate Black History Month, international premier dance icon Dwana A. Smallwood will debut “Tongue- Words Have Power,” a virtual movement tribute paying homage to the influential voices of the Civil Rights Movement, from February 1 to February 28 on the Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center (DSPAC) Instagram account (@dspacbrooklyn). Right on the heels of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Smallwood’s choreography will feature several solos spotlighting young dancers enrolled at her studio, along with other talented students from Brooklyn, juxtaposed with notable interviews and speeches from the likes of Nina Simone, James Baldwin, John Lewis, Maya Angelou, and Shirley Chisholm. Through “Tongue,” she employs verbal movement to amplify the words of these defining pillars of Black culture and channel their messages for change.
“In celebration of the history of Black people, I’m highlighting the voices of our masters to remind people of who we are and where we came from,” said Dwana A. Smallwood, Founder and Executive Director of DSPAC. “Black historians gave us text and words that provided us with the blueprint for how we should feel about ourselves as Black people, how we should treat each other as Black people, and how we should interact in the world as humans together. We’re currently undergoing a moment of universal transformation in our world, so what better time would there be to celebrate our ancestors,” she said.
Located in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood, DSPAC's mission is to use arts, literacy, and education as tools to address the social determinants of health and advance leadership skills that empower underserved communities; particularly its youth. DSPAC serves as an anchor of a dynamic Bed-Stuy cultural micro-district, providing a model for similar organizations to build community identity while providing a place of artistic exchange, along with empowerment in molding elite artists to develop, grow and compete on the world’s stage.
Smallwood is globally recognized for electrifying stages as a former principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, along with engineering and directing the Dance Program for the prestigious Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. In regards to "Tongue," Smallwood believes in words having the power to destroy or build, and relies on the power of linguistics to bring her artistic expressions to life on a virtual platform. Inspired by the collective spirit embodying the recent Black Lives Matter initiatives, the intrinsic message of “Tongue” also speaks to the underlying intention of words and their ability to add beauty and healing to the world. “I speak in dance. It's a symbiotic dance in a sense; the text of movement and the text of literature meet on the Marley to celebrate the minds of our masters,” she said.
To learn more about the month-long virtual tribute or for general information about DSPAC, visit www.dwanasmallwoodpac.org or email email@example.com. Details can also be found on the organization’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts.