BLOOD DAZZLER is a tale of the storm we should have seen coming and the sociopolitical firestorm left in its wake. Based on Patricia Smith’s award-winning book, Blood Dazzler embodies Katrina as a troubled, otherworldly woman hungry for fame, destruction and revelation.
Katrina defied simple classification and easy analysis. As her aftermath continues to be felt, a group of artists reexamines her origin and impact through a unique convergence of verse, dance, theatre and multimedia, in the hopes of unearthing deeper truth.
Blood Dazzler revisits what happened and ignites a dialogue about what can be done now. Culminating in a “Katrina’s Coming to Your Town” touring model – including artistic workshops, activist panels and community story circles – the event is also a meeting ground to meditate on the vulnerabilities in every community and envision strategies for progress.
For three years, award-winning poet Patricia Smith and choreographer Paloma McGregor were developing Blood Dazzler into an evening-length theatrical work. The collaboration began at a women’s writers conference in Kentucky, when McGregor heard Smith read the poem 34. She was struck by the power of the poem, which, in Smith’s words, “began with dim flailing images, the sound of frantic prayer and the eerie whisper of rising water. Thirty-four nursing home residents were left to die as hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans, and an insistent necessary poem took shape.” 34 pushed other silenced voices to the surface and led to Blood Dazzler, a manuscript birthed by the storm. In 2008, Patricia McGregor adapted the manuscript into a theatrical script, focusing on carving out the human elements of both the victims and the storm herself. In 2009, the project moved forward with the help of Voice & Vision’s prestigious ENVISION residency at Bard College. We returned to NYC for a standing-room-only work-in-progress showing at Classic Stage Company. The work was premiered Sept. 2010 in a sold-out run at Harlem Stage, in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of Katrina.
“Poetry is not a Luxury” by Shani Jamila
September 23-26th, 2010 — World Premiere Harlem Stage