Past, Present, Future: The Life of “Bricks & Bones”

Bricks & Bones is a performance series in response to the erasure of Black lives and communities in Dallas, Texas, and the movements to recover, rebuild and honor those lost histories. A multi-year project co-directed by Cassie Meador and Paloma McGregor, it brought Dance Exchange and Dallas community members together to collaboratively weave dance, song, and story telling into an intergenerational investigation of how race shapes the landscape around us. In November 2015 throughout different locations in Dallas, the culminating Bricks & Bones performance series invited audiences to travel backward and forward in time to reflect on the current racial landscape and asks how each of us takes a step in moving racial equity forward.

PAST

Bricks & Bones began in partnership with Dallas Faces Race, a community coalition of over 300 Dallas-based organizations, dedicated to advancing racial equity and building their capacity to make change.

Dance Exchange formed a cohort of artists, activists, and community organizers from Dallas to explore the role of art-making in movements for change. We first convened to begin our research process at Dance Exchange’s Summer Institute in July 2014 in Maryland. Months later, we continued our research at the national Facing Race conference in Dallas, where we created a dance with nearly 2,000 conference participants as a way to reflect on their lived experiences and what they hoped to take away from the gathering.

We also led a workshop that explored the importance of personal histories and intergenerational exchange; the engagement helped us surface driving questions for our continued work: How do we uncover and hold our histories? What legacies do we celebrate, and how do we pass those on? How can our art making transform institutional structures that move us towards a racially equitable system?

Learn more about the history of Bricks & Bones here.

PRESENT

After almost two years of gathering research and working with our community partners, Dance Exchange returned to Dallas in November of 2015 for a final week of community engagements and performances. We focused on art-making as a means for excavating our legacies and lived experiences, looking at how they shape the present moment and our visions for the future.

Our kick-off event, at the African American Museum of Dallas, featured dance, spoken word, and song, creating a space for those attending to linger at the intersection of conflict and healing. The event brought together people across generations to uncover histories of race, erasure and resistance in Dallas. They witnessed performance and shared their own experiences through storytelling and movement.

We also gathered at partner sites, using performative engagements to highlight significant spaces of erasure and resistance, including Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Southern Methodist University, and Billy Earl Dade Middle School. The engagements shaped our culminating performance, where community members of all ages danced alongside Dance Exchange and the Dallas creative team.

The Bricks & Bones performance series has generated important conversations about how each of us is situated within systems of oppression, how individuals perpetuate and are marginalized by institutional racism, and what steps we can take towards racial equity.

FUTURE

Dance Exchange is grateful to its extraordinary network of community partners. We also thank the people of Dallas for your artistic generosity, your rich histories and your vision for racial equity in your city.

While developing Bricks & Bones we were inspired by the acts of resistance that have helped preserve so much Black Dallas history, and what one of our audience members described as “the resiliency of the human spirit.”

We know this is just the beginning. We encourage those who would like to further this work in Dallas to become involved with Dallas Faces Race. We also encourage you to continue critical dialogues about race, erasure, and resistance in your families and communities.

Were you a participant in Bricks & Bones and would like to share your story to be included here? Email us.

To speak with co-creators Cassie Meador and Paloma McGregor about this project, please contact us.

About Alison Waldman

Alison Waldman is Dance Exchange's Marketing & Communications Manager and a D.C.-based “entrepren-artist” consultant, performer, photographer, and collaborator.