THE (NEW) NARRATIVES

The following narratives collected during the Crossroads Project reflect sentiments from both Louisiana-based participants and community members from Edgard and Wallce, La. These sentiments reflect a multitude of experiences and connections and may take on varied forms including personal essays, testimonials, and images.  As this section is evolving check back for more stories.

Participants
Community Members
 

RICHARD SIDAY (PERFORMER)

There are centuries of Ancestral History coursing throughout Louisiana's landscapes in documented accounts and artifacts; but what of the Physical and Emotional Recordings of these Historic Scars upon People and Land? How well does the Blood remember the Lineage to these Roots of Bondage? These were just some of the thoughts I contemplated during the process of rehearsals and filming. I wanted to be as a conduit to the Land (the Plantation), to be a Vessel to the Spirits that dwell there, to be a Tabula Rasa to the Choreography.  The movement to this work was important. As a Descendant to both Cherokee, Haitian, and French / English lineage, I was innately drawn to this work and to dance.  

     Understanding Racial History is complex and confusing to me emotionally. How one's racial views are acted in obsessive violence and oppression toward one another simply because they exist to the believer is vile. So it came naturally during the process to let all Knowledge wash away; to not be connected to certainty, concern or judgment. To let my body speak of memories of the Land; for it bore witness long before I. I didn't want it to be intellectual - there was nothing intellectual about slavery. The pain of Bondage had to be what it was - physical. I was the Instrument as a Needle upon the Akashic Record of the Plantation, to the Generations that once dwelled there and to all that stood behind me.  

 

RAYMOND TURNER (PERFORMER)

I'm pretty much gonna explain my experience at Evergreen plantation.  To sum everything up, I didn't really know too much about plantations.  You know, growing up, going to school, they only tell you what television tells you, and you know the few things you do read.  So the first thing I hear about plantations is that it's the white people that own this big ole house and all this land and they have slaves.  And, nine times out of ten their slaves are black.  They're not free, they're calling their plantation owners masta and all these different things, you know.  All these different narratives.  And that's kinda pretty much what I had in mind.  That's just what I thought it was.


As soon as I heard plantation, I just got real defensive...I just got more like...my people suffered, my people wasn't able to be free, my people didn't have it like that, or they was robbed. That's just the first thing I thought of. 

When I actually got to Evergreen Plantation, First of all, that land is so rich.  It's so rich, I don't even know how to explain it.  Walking on that land, you feel a rush.  You can feel the embrace of the people that were once there. Talking about it gives me chills. 


Ms. Desiree was saying, It wasn't about skin color on this plantation....it was about what money you had.  Honestly, that's the way the world is now. 

And that to me, that woke me up.  I felt like, wow, I need to do my research more. I went into this so narrow-minded, thinking, all my people are slaves. 

Being in that land, It's like I'm talking to my ancestors. I will never forget that experience.  My spirit was awoke.  I just feel so rich in culture.  It was an amazing experience and I'll never forget it.   It made me think great about my people. All my people wasn't in bondage.  My people was great.  Even the people that were in bondage.  They was great. 

These people were so creative, so rich. I know that all my people wasn't in bondage.  Actually some of my people was pretty dope. 

 

TERREZE WILLIAMS (PERFORMER)

I see my land. My hard work. This is mine. Reclaimed and rightfully bestowed to its rightful owner. Royalty. Slaves were not able to dance and walk freely around the plantation. Just work and serve. Slaves were not able to sit in a rocking chair. I am not a slave. My ancestors were not slaves. We are sitting on the balcony, peacefully rocking in our kingdom. My people rest knowing that they own royalty. This is ours. We dance knowingly connected. Energies collide. Soul intertwined. Past. Present. Future. Connected. I am the manifestation of the foreseen vision from someone's knowing intuition. Whoever that person is called me here. To sense the glory of our God. Our awesome God. Portals open so we can dance together. To call others. To celebrate on our royal soil and land freely. Liberate the unknown feet. Walk with covered or bared feet. 

This plantation was designed as status. Social status. To resemble Greek revival architecture.The portal is open. Future being propelled by liberating the people of Avato, Greece. During Ottoman Period, slaves were brought to Greece and they settle in Avato. I give the people of Avato, Greece what is rightfully theirs. Royalties.

God gave me the keys to my kingdom before I was born. That is why he gave his only son for me. My sins. We own the key to the main house. First, he had to remove all things impure. Slave owners. Things that wasn't of God. The cleansing of wickedness. Made new the land he blessed us with and we rightfully took care of. Blessed. Sacred. I give the kingdom back to the rightful owners, (insert black family name.)

 

ALDEN SIMON (PERFORMER)

I felt so much magic happening throughout the entire project.  Truth be told, I've never danced like that before.

 

RITHO JOHNSON (PERFORMER)

Definitely was a crazy experience being able to see & get an idea of how & where OUR people lived & feel their energies till this day! I highly recommend going to see the slave houses an get some information on OUR history because there’s alot we don’t know an talk bout & not all of it is bad! Also the slaves weren’t only black people...... Furthermore, legends were made in this very specific place! So, with that being said, I wanted to leave them with a piece of me an my respect through what I love doing most!

 

RACHAEL KNAPS (PERFORMER)

This was an experience like no other. Growing up in Louisiana, we often took field trips to tour different plantations but never in such depth. I was astounded by the numerous tasks that go into keeping a historical plantation running. The staff was very knowledgeable about the land’s history and willing to admit there is still more to be learned. I appreciate that everyone, regardless of their background, was given the opportunity to speak their truth about the land. One of my favorite parts during the day, was getting to read through one of the oldest books I’ve ever seen. I have always been fascinated by the English language. Reading the book, I noticed many words were spelled the way I had always misspelled them in grade school. I’m having trouble wording this concept, but some of the old language seemed to make more sense to me due to the phonetic spelling. It seems that  language has a way of evolving. Movement and  physicality grow and develop over time, but still holds true to basic human emotions. Dance is a universal language. The way people move can tell you so much about their lifestyle. It’s a beautiful way for humans to communicate and connect. 

I learned so much about the place I call home while working on this project.  

 

ANJI CRAIN

Director

At the Mouth of the River

We know things...


Like how to move in opposite directions 

All the while standing still ….

How to see things in the distance 

That seek to disappear


We know that heat’s haze 

don’t pick sides 


We see through its clouds

Yet keep steady in the mind


We carry the burdens

of all your afore lands


Go'on! Float it downriver,

We’ll play our hand


Maybe we’ll hold 

Maybe we won’t 

Hmm, which season shall we sow?


Well, that depends on how much 

we want you to know


We know...

that sweat is the real holy water 

And that water has no home


That patience is your anchor 

ball and chain

And your mighty arrow


We know you must break bread 

with your friends and your foes

We know...

that soul is earned 

and speaks loudest when it whispers


It sees which one is still 

And which one’s a shifting


It’s an eye with no reflection

Many lifetimes in its sight


It’s knows you're on borrowed time

And it knows your quivering frights


An earned soul sees through skin

And sees your muted might



At the mouth of the river...


We know you long for mystique

mourn your own senses 

and sell your own defeats


Here, you must let go of elite vices

And false dreams


You must hear what cannot be said

Seek what cannot be seen


You must ride your intellect to the shores of your own ravine

Fall into its crevice, stand up and proceed

Here, we can suspend time

We can wrap it around your little finger 


We can dance on your memories

And flip you around in your agenda


Here, money'll buy you fancy things,

But we know that grit is the real spender  


We know that roots run muddy deep

And release secrets to the wind


We listen to the silt as it shifts and sinks 

And eventually settles in... 


Well...for a time, that is 

We know that shift is in our veins. 

And together, our blood breeds and flows 


We know that the current is king.

And rhythm, The truth of all things. 

This we most certainly know


We know we were once royal 

And we were also forgotten.  


So...we’ll play the roles proper

Because labels don't mean nothin

We know that distinctions 

Are born of fear and boredom 


And yes, we know adversity 

and the joy that’s begotten


If only to rejoice that we made it through

We know grandeur and decay

And yes yes, rejoice we do


You see…


We know it all in the end

And that even when we cry


We know 

That knowing is our birthright


So we’ll wait, regroup 

And do it all again


In this mouth of muddy dreams and demons

Before wisdom of saints and fools


We see the light that hides in shadows 

and the shadows that hide in you


Here we know things, 

And we conjure up redemption

So com’mon, relax in a little 

be patient and listen

Shhhh...

It ain't words you're listening to.