Choreographer/Collaborator Julie B. Johnson and Charmaine Minniefield call upon the Ring Shout as a historical African American spiritual practice, an act of resistance, and a mode of community-building amidst the forces that worked to dismantle communities.
In their words:
“With a collective of intergenerational black women dancers and movers, we manifest a contemporary Ring Shout practice through embodied memories of disruption and distance. It began with Minniefield in The Gambia, exploring her upbringing in the Pentecostal faith in the U.S. south in which she would shout or dance in prayer, and her current research of the origins of such practices in Africa. We work to lift up these traditions and honor the experiences and labor of our ancestors, while exploring forward into contemporary improvisational movement forms that attend to our bodies’ needs right now, in this moment.
“This collection of movement prayers and meditations performed remotely by women from their homes in different locations contemplates ‘togetherness’ in virtual spaces, and reflects on the ongoing unrest arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the disproportionate toll it has taken on our black and brown communities, and the racial violence that attempts to silence our communities and erase us. The resulting work will bring the women together in a virtual Ring Shout to again inspire connection and community in spite of separation during this global pandemic.”
Watch a conversation on the Ring Shout between Julie B. Johnson, Charmaine Minneifield, and Tamara William-Xavier
The video resulting from this work is a combination of all of the individual performances. You can view each dancers individual movement meditation/prayer here.
Audiences are encouraged to join the gathering by posting their own Ring Shout using the hashtag #RingShoutFlux.
This project is offered as part of Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives, a project by Charmaine Minniefield. See more of Minniefield’s Juneteenth celebrations here>
About the Artist
Dr. Julie B. Johnson (collaborating choreographer) is on faculty at Spelman College in the Department of Dance Performance & Choreography. She serves as the co-founding editor of The Dancer-Citizen, an online, peer-reviewed, open-access dance journal exploring the work of socially engaged artists. Through her professional practice, Moving Our Stories, LLC, she uses participatory dance, memory mapping, and interactive site-specific performance to amplify black women–and the communities, histories, and experiences that shape the world around us–as a strategy towards building collective empathy, empowerment, and joy for all. She was awarded a 2019 Black Spatial Residency Award and an Alternative ROOTS Artistic Assistance Project Development Grant for her interactive work, Idle Crimes & Heavy Work, focusing on black women’s incarcerated labor. Julie earned a PhD in Dance Studies at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance.