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A’we deh ya (All of us are here) – Angela's Pulse

A’we deh ya (All of us are here)

2019 - present

Paloma McGregor and Oceana James in process in St. Croix (2016) | Images by Quiana L. Adams
What would we envision if we activated the liberation technologies in our bodies?

About the Work | Sketch 321 – Salt/Cane/Womb Film | Process Updates

“A’we deh ya (All of us are here)” is a multi-year, multi-site project that develops performance, a digital archive and a community curriculum. This process has established a multidisciplinary, intergenerational creative collaborative whose work focuses on investigating the impacts of industry on St. Croix and the Bronx River, as well as illuminates and asserts the past, present and future liberation technologies of indigenous and African-descendant people in Ay-Ay (St. Croix). The Black-led, “post-memorial” collaborative, which includes artists and activists from the Virgin Islands and mainland US, is “futuring” their Embodied Knowledge as a Study Group. This A’we Study Group began meeting monthly in 2021 to research and create together, supported by the Open Society Foundation’s Soros Arts Fellowship. At the end of this pilot year, a series of video sketches and a short film were produced that reflect the collaborative’s research on the impacts of industry, climate emergency and disaster capitalism, as well as local liberation histories.

During the devastating 2017 hurricane season, St. Croix was hit by back-to-back Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Disaster capitalism quickly followed, inflating the cost of living by as much as 400 percent. As locals are priced out, Crucians face the possibility that St. Croix may not remain a Black-majority or Black-cultural space. Through a practice of call and response, A’we deh ya animates undertold liberation technologies of St. Croix — including the indigenous people running Columbus off in 1493 and enslaved Africans demanding emancipation in 1848 (joining Haiti as the only Caribbean islands in which Africans demanded and won their own liberation by force). As Crucians and transnational comrades, this collaborative activates collective power to reclaim endangered spaces, histories and visions.

Paloma McGregor, Christine King and Savannah Lyons Anthony in A'we deh ya
VCUarts (2019) | Images by by Chioke l'Anson

A’we deh ya began its creative development in August 2019 during a creative residency at Virginia Commonwealth University, made possible by the VCUarts Department of Dance and Choreography and McGregor’s Fellowship with the Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Institute.

The development continued during a November 2020 weeklong process in which 14 collaborators from across the country and the ocean engaged with Virgin Island scholars and culture bearers (shout out to Dr. Chenzira Davis-Kahina, Hadiya Sewer, Frandelle Gerard and Willard John); explored the creative potentials of Zoom as a space; wrote and danced. This workshop culminated with an hourlong virtual public performance of live and archival material to 80+ audience members, many of whom were Virgin Islanders. The exploration was supported by Angela’s Pulse’s 3-year residency at The Movement Lab at Barnard College, as well as the Soros Arts Fellowship, MAP Fund, Movement Research and The Public.

Sketch 321 - Salt/Cane/Womb

Poster for the film, made by Rosa Navarrete. A close-up cropped shot of 3/4 of Paloma's face looking upward behind a blade of sugarcane. Surrounded by green cane, she wears a white shirt and curly shoulder-length hair. On top of the image, text reads: "Angela's Pulse presents 'A'we deh ya' a film by Paloma McGregor, official selection of the Denton Black Film Festival. Featuring Paloma McGregor | Savannah Lyons Anthony | MK Abadoo" followed by more film credits.
  • Conceived & Directed by Paloma McGregor
  • Co-Created & Edited by Rosa Lisbeth Navarrete
  • Filmed by Paloma McGregor, MK Abadoo & Monica Marin
  • Choreographed & Performed by Paloma McGregor, MK Abadoo & Savannah Lyons Anthony
  • With Olamina McGregor Young-Spivey and Ella Abadoo
  • Poems by Jacinta V. White
  • Voice by Rosa Lisbeth Navarrete

In a Crucian sugar cane field, three Black women converge, dancing through an inherited liberation code.

Sketch 321 – Salt/Cane/Womb is the first in a series of films we will create as we develop an A’we deh ya digital syllabus to illuminate histories, voices and visions of Ay Ay. The film was a finalist for Best Screendance Film at the 2022 Denton Black Film Festival! Each January, DBFF brings the Black experience to life through cinema, music, art, spoken word, comedy, food, and fashion.

Special Thanks to:
Open Society Foundation’s Soros Arts Fellowship, The National Centre for Choreography (NCCAkron) and Cara Hagan for your invitation, vision and faith.

Since June of 2021, Angela's Pulse has held Study Group convenings with Virgin Island and Stateside collaborators to continue the next iteration of A'we deh ya ("All of us are here"). Learn more about the members of the creative team in the next iteration of this project.
This week, Virgin Islanders and Stateside Angela's Pulse collaborators are gathering daily for virtual creative process, research and development of A'we deh ya ("All of us are here"), a multi-disciplinary call-and-response between colony and mainland. This iteration of Building A Better Fishtrap focuses on Paloma's homeland St. Croix.
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