afroFUTUREqu##r: Dance review by Eva Yaa Asantewaa
In recent years, Afro-futurism—whose most familiar icons include jazz artist/ cosmic visionary Sun Ra and sci-fi writer Octavia Butler—has enjoyed a resurgence on the cultural front. The fruit of Black minds at serious play across the history and genius of the diaspora, Afro-futurism questions and explores alternative strategies for challenges now and into any number of possible futures.
Thomas DeFrantz and niv Acosta—curators of afroFUTUREqu##r, a four-day series of events at Clinton Hill’s JACK performance space—see Afro-futurism as a big, roomy and decidely queer tent. DeFrantz and Acosta, notably, work within the field of dance, and they find it curious that dance does not play a bigger role in today’s Afro-futurist moment. I find it curious that dance did not play a bigger role in the program I saw Friday evening.
Unfortunately, the Friday night edition of afroFUTUREqu##r, followed by a dance party, offered only one sample of dance—Recombinant, a handsome, fluent solo by Grisha Coleman, where the Afro-futuristic element appeared to be composer Michael Krzyzankiak’s charmingly robotized African drum. Performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko—who counts dance among his interwoven pursuits—turned out to be on hand only to read from a collection of new poetry.
Screenings of two previously unannounced film shorts filled out the rest of the evening’s lineup, which opened with Gayniggers from Outer Space (1992), a Blaxploitation/sci-fi hybrid from Danish director Morton Lindberg. Some audience members laughed while others silently fumed at the film’s blatant misogyny and racism. It was clear that the curators would have to explain themselves, and they followed up with a feedback session, inviting us to air our feelings. But all of this time—as well as the time for Karina Aguilera Skvirsky’s baffling Miseria—could have been put to more interesting use. I’m still eager to learn more about how we might dance our way out of our constrictions—as Funkadelic would have it—and dance into an Afro-future. —Eva Yaa Asantewaa