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Ase Dance Theatre Visits ODC In West Coast Premiere Of A BLUESSICAL

By: Aug. 28, 2019
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Ase Dance Theatre Visits ODC In West Coast Premiere Of A BLUESSICAL  Image

ODC Theater is proud to present Àse Dance Theatre Collective in the West Coast premiere of Have K(NO!)w Fear: A Bluessical. Performances run October 17 - 19, Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 - $30, and may be purchased online at or by phone at 415-863-9834.

Drawing on traditions of the African diaspora, Have K(NO!)w Fear: A Bluessical is a work of ritual dance theater, live music and film that Artistic Director Adia Tamar Whitaker calls an "undoing spell to untie all the knots that choke the future, from natural disasters and systematic oppression to forced migration. It's a work of both healing and resistance."

Whitaker, who was raised in San Francisco, and who now calls Brooklyn, New York her home, developed the work over the course of a decade, with the earliest section premiering at ODC Theater in 2008. Next came a short film created in collaboration with the UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art in Brooklyn. After its premiere in 2017, the film traveled to festivals around the world, earning juried awards in Chile, Cyprus, Los Angeles and New York. A Bluessical's third and final section was completed in 2018 as part of Whitaker's Dance MFA at Hollins University in Virginia.

"I conceived this work as a living quilt," said Whitaker. "I come from a long line of quilters on my mother's side, and I'm the first woman not to take part in the quilting circles. But in an effort to continue this tradition, I've made my own quilt out of words, song and dance, asking what are my patches and where are my needles? There's a lot of ancestral energy in the piece."

"Like a quilt, A Bluessical is designed to be an heirloom to pass down the generations. It's a gift to my children, with messages and music that stick in your head."
In addition to directing and choreographing, Whitaker designed the costumes, arranged traditional songs and wrote several new songs, as well. She's joined by Oakland-based musician Guy deChalus, who serves as music director and music arranger, fiddler and lead percussionist. The company's bicoastal cast of dancer-vocalists includes Stephanie Bastos, Tilishia Bradley Goveia, Erin Bryce Holmes, Alexandra Jean-Joseph, Tossie Long, Imani Nzingha, Brian Polite, Kendra J. Ross and Zakiya Harris aka Sh8peshifter. Eliyahu and Gabriel Bata join the ensemble as percussionists.

The project's filmmakers include Beata Calinska, Sarah Jacobson and Tracie Williams. Darl Andrew Packard performs lighting design.
On Friday, October 18 at 6:30 p.m., ODC Theater will host Whitaker in a Public Talk presented in partnership with the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance based at Wesleyan University.

Have K(NO!)w Fear: A Bluessical was made possible by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts and the 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, with additional support from BAM Education, The Little Maroons Childcare Cooperative and Marc Bamuthi Joseph. For more information, visit


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