, Dance Performance Incorporates Art of Storytelling

“Excerpts of a new work Ma(s)king Her” isThe second performance of the SpinOff Contemporary Dance Series.  The Honey Pot Performers, wrote, performed and choreographed the piece. The Chicago-based group is a woman-focused, dance collaborative that incorporates the art of storytelling

Felicia Holman, who does marketing and communications for Honey Pot, said their performances tell a story through an Afro-diasporic, feminist lens. More specifically, their work covers universal issues like relationships, identity, society and the economy. Founders are Holman, Meida McNeal, (artistic/executive director), Abra Johnson (education and dramaturgical), and Aisha Josina Jean-Baptiste (healer).   They started Honey Pot Performance in 2009. However, they have been creating work together as a collective since 2001.

“What we do is really embody storytelling,” Holman said.

A Mix of Strong Music, Spiritual Energy, Powerful Rhythms and Story Telling

As they entered the dance floor, sturdy and strong, the music pounded like a heartbeat. Through their movements and hand gestures, they set the energy, which was spiritual and raw. The rhythm switched to rattlesnake sounds and bongos. Johnson began a monologue, the tale of an ancient woman, birth, creation and love.

Johnson described the work as, “A tale of nieces and nephews, of black and brown who forgot their own power.”

Meanwhile, McNeal offered, “This particular work is the kind of creation of an Afro feminist mythology,”

The piece ended with an unlikely blues classic, Muddy WatersMannish Boy. Johnson said that as she was writing it, the song just popped into her head and stayed there. More than that, Mannish Boy represents where the character is headed. Johnson explained that there is something about Blues that foreshadows the challenges the characters face.

Music and Character

Jo De Presser, Sound Collaborator and Special Projects Coordinator, said that each musical segment is telling of an individual character.

“My goal and my quest is to somehow find something that will mesh with the movements and the story,” Presser said.

As the title of the event suggests, the performances are still in their transformative stages.

“This part of the work is still in progress,” said McNeal, “so, in some sense, we just want to share the beginnings of the work.”