Justine A. Chambers & Delores Hutchinson
August 7, 1983

This project begins with a story my grandmother has told me a number of times. A story about dancing on Saturday evenings at The Parkway Ballroom at King Drive and 47th in Bronzeville, on the south side of Chicago. A weekly ritual performed throughout her teens. My grandmother’s name is Delores Hutchinson. She is 90 years old, and was a single mother to four children. My mother is her only daughter. I have always felt my grandmother’s love deeply. We are close, but not in a way where we tell each other everythingin a way that is felt and mutually understood. In this work, I want to create an echo of my grandmother’s dancing body through time.

When I asked my Granny to recreate her dances with me, she agreed on the condition that she chooses the music. She has an extensive music collection which spans 75 years. She has created a 45-song playlist for the project that you can listen to here. In our conversations, I asked her to describe the dances she did at The Parkway Ballroomwhile the directions were sometimes vague, I was still able to envision and feel her moving. This, for me, speaks to the value and legitimacy of embodied practice and the transmission of information between bodies.

The choreography we will share in the dance sessions engage collectively reiterated actions as a way to make visible and to house a body which has historically been erased. This project focuses on her body and its movements as a site of joy. I think of dancing together as an opening towards other ways of being in relationship. The project considers these collective dance sessions as a location for togetherness, and, in all its jaggedness, invites a possibility for care.

Tailfeather was commissioned by Jesse Birch at the Nanaimo Art Gallery for the Across the Table Group Exhibition April 26-June 30, 2019.


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