Lil Buck and Jon Boogz Made a Moving Video About Mass Incarceration
How do you make a dance film about one of the most devastating social issues of our time? In the latest collaboration from Lil Buck and Jon Boogz, the answer is to merge visceral movement storytelling with cold, hard facts.
"Am I a Man?" follows Lil Buck and Boogz as they dance through an experience that one out of every three black men in America between the ages of 18 and 30 faces: arrest, conviction and imprisonment. But what takes this video to the next level is the interspersed interview from lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson, whose commentary on the ways that our justice system unfairly treats people of color brings a sense of urgency to the narrative.
Dance truly carries the narrative arc of the film, from the dancers' smooth, walking-on-air quality pre-arrest to the way their desperation seems to grow in intensity the longer they're imprisoned. When they're released, their movement mirrors phrases from the beginning of the film, but this time more subdued, less carefree. The dancers' embodiment of the experience of being incarcerated is a powerful reminder of dance's ability to address even the most complex social issues.
Just last winter Kyle Abraham tackled the same issue onstage in his Untitled America for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, focusing specifically how the incarceration of black men affects their families.
"Am I a Man?" was produced by Movement Art Is, a organization founded by Lil Buck and Jon Boogz to harness the power of dance for social change.
Just hearing the word "improvisation" is enough to make some ballet dancers shake in their pointe shoes. But for Chantelle Pianetta, it's a practice she relishes. Depending on the weekend, you might find her gracing Bay Area stages as a principal with Menlowe Ballet or sweeping in awards at West Coast swing competitions.
She specializes in Jack and Jill events, which involve improvised swing dancing with an unexpected partner in front of a panel of judges. (Check her out in action below.) While sustaining her ballet career, over the past four years Pianetta has quickly risen from novice to champion level on the WCS international competition circuit.
Sean Dorsey was always going to be an activist. Growing up in a politically engaged, progressive family in Vancouver, British Columbia, "it was my heart's desire to create change in the world," he says. Far less certain was his future as a dancer.
Like many dancers, Dorsey fell in love with movement as a toddler. However, he didn't identify strongly with any particular gender growing up. Dorsey, who now identifies as trans, says, "I didn't see a single person like me anywhere in the modern dance world." The lack of trans role models and teachers, let alone all-gender studio facilities where he could feel safe and welcome, "meant that even in my wildest dreams, there was no room for that possibility."
It's hour three of an intense rehearsal, you're feeling mentally foggy and exhausted, and your stomach hurts. Did you know the culprit could be something as simple as dehydration?
Proper hydration helps maintain physical and mental function while you're dancing, and keeps your energy levels high. But with so many products on the market promising to help you rehydrate more effectively, how do you know when it's time to reach for more than water?