The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins







June 8, 1765: "Woman Slave hanged her Self between Decks" While most slave ships worked their way along the coast, the Sally appears to have remained largely in one place, apparently at a small British slave "factory" near the mouth of the River Grande, in what is today Guinea-Bissau. Hopkins traded rum with passing slave ships, acquiring manufactured goods like cloth, iron bars, and guns, which he then used to acquire slaves. On June 8, 1765, he purchased his 108th captive. That same day, an enslaved woman committed suicide. She was the second captive to die on the ship.-- Brown University's Center for Digital Initiatives + The John Carter Brown Library

The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins

The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins is an activist dance opera, that re-imagines the narrative of Esek Hopkins; the future of our community; the future of public space; the future we will leave behind to our children's children. As we cleanse, heal, and practice liberation with our community, this project is a protest-demonstration against the system that tells us that Esek Hopkins’ former home is worth preserving. We are choreographing for justice.

The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins shares the stories, cultures and choreography of the Haus of Glitter’s Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Laotian ancestors. A fabulation created to imagine the missing stories from the legacy of Esek Hopkins’ disastrous slaving voyage on "sally", this activist dance opera imagines what would life would be like today if colonization or slavery never happened by telling the story of a single Black person lost on the voyage, imagining her story, family, emotions, and legacy.

We believe that we cannot think ourselves out of racism. We need to feel ourselves out of racism.

Photo by Stephanie Alvarez-Ewens


When we say “historic restoration”, whose restoration are we referring to? “THE HISTORICAL FANTASY OF ESEK HOPKINS” is a multimedia activist dance opera + album + film + curriculum + graphic novel + coloring book + community ritual + historic intervention by The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Performance Lab - part of a two-year PARKIST Artist Residency with the Providence Parks Dept. & The Dept. of Art+Culture+Tourism at the former Historic Esek Hopkins Homestead & Park (1754). In solidarity & collaboration with our community, our practice aims to investigate lineage & to shift the energetic center of the universe towards Queer Feminist BIPOC Wisdom, Healing, & Collective Liberation. We have been rehearsing for the revolution.

Since Dec, 2019, we have been living in the former home of Esek Hopkins, known as the first commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War. During this term, Esek Hopkins (1718-1802) tortured British prisoners of war, disobeyed orders to protect his interest in the human slave trade, & profited from the war. During the period after the revolution, when RI merchants were responsible for 60-90 percent of the American slave trade, Esek was hired to command the slave ship “Sally” to purchase kidnapped humans from the coast of Africa & bring them to America, land of the free, to be sold into slavery. Why is there a middle school named after him full of brilliant Black & Brown children down the street? Why is his house, a symbol of white supremacy, worth preserving as it’s been when it could be returned into a space that feels free for all humans? What does it mean for our Queer Glitter Family of Color to be living, creating, liberating, fighting, feeling, & healing here? 

Everything we create here, with this Earthspace, aims to honor the bodies, minds, & souls lost to the plague of white supremacy; the legacy of creativity & activism we inherited from our ancestors, & the human beings who were stolen, tortured & brought to the Americas on the slave ship Sally. This dance opera, a story of mermaids, revolution, and resilience, tells of how our lineages intersect with the Esek Hopkins' legacy of white supremacy. We are subverting the truth we inherited by imagining nameless, underrepresented & erased Queer/Femme/BIPOC lives as fully realized humans with bodies & stories & movement.

Artist Statement

Our project, THE HISTORICAL FANTASIES OF ESEK HOPKINS, will be the culmination of our 2-year PARKIST Artist Residency in the Esek Hopkins Homestead + Park. In addition to sharing the stories, cultures and choreography of the Haus of Glitter’s Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Laotian ancestors, this project shares a FANTASY that we have created to imagine the missing stories from the legacy of Esek Hopkins; to imagine what would life would be like today if colonization or slavery never happened; to rehearse for a world that centers healing, care and community. 

In our research, however, the story we couldn’t stop thinking about was the story of the womxn who hung herself on the first voyage of the slaveship “Sally”. What if we imagined just one single Black person as a fully realized human — with a story, a family, emotions? Someone who could scream, cry, and shout? By nature of her choice, Esek Hopkins and his men had to deliberately throw her individual human body into the Atlantic Ocean. Did they look her in the eyes too? The archives were not enough to do justice to this womxn. 

THE HISTORICAL FANTASY OF ESEK HOPKINS: a multimedia dance opera + album + curriculum + coloring book + graphic novel + historic intervention begins with the story of this womxn — her life, and the legacy that she birthed on the first voyage of the slaveship Sally. We believe we are carrying on her movement, to refuse complicity, to refuse oppression, to refuse silence.


For us, creating this dance opera is a step towards creating a local industry for Black and Brown dancers here in Rhode Island. We are tired of graduating brilliant Black and Brown dancers into the world with no place for them to continue creating. The Festival Ballet Providence cannot be the only space for a professional dancer to work and perform in our city. It is a disservice to our community for brilliant, creative thinkers, movers, dreamers and makers to not be thinking, moving, dreaming and making with support, resources, mentorship and community. 

Ultimately, one of our hopes for the development of this work to be an advocacy tool to prepare the community for our proposal to the Providence Commemorative Works Commission and Board of Commissioners, to reinterpret Esek Hopkins’ former house as a Contemporary Liberation Museum with programming for young artists to train in the Afro-Latinx diaspora. Additionally, The Haus of Glitter Dance Company is working with the Department of Art + Culture + Tourism on two major projects for 2022 and beyond: 1) transforming a historic church into a dance performance venue and 2) transforming a former public school building into an alternative post-secondary artist residency for young BIPOC artists in the “missing middle” to get training, support and experience as yoga and meditation practitioners, teaching artists, choreographers, transdisciplinary artists, earthworkers and community organizers.

Justice Statement

Dance Education still centers European & Assimilationist tradition. African dance, Bachata, Salsa, Vogue, Dancehall, House, & Hip-Hop have been consistently marginalized & criminalized since dancing and drumming was made illegal on plantations. We dream of the day when our BIPOC community can purchase tickets to the largest performing arts centers in our state, to watch local BIPOC art & truth. 

Our choreography is a disruption of the historical archives — to make it known in time and space that there are stories missing from the picture we’ve painted of Esek Hopkins; to remember that our daily life is choreography in the making. Our legacy in West African & Latinx Dance feels especially important to represent the contributions & systemic violence against BIPOC people in the context of Esek Hopkins’ story. From colonization, slavery, gentrification, centralization, migration, internalization & refuge, our work teaches where Contemporary Hip-Hop & Afro-Latinx dance comes from - where we all come from. Not only does our work represent bodies of color, but the content of our work represents the stories, truths, colors, shapes, & vibrations that live in our bones. Our process of choreographing attempts to strip away the symptoms of trauma that plague us & embody the process of being together - of manifesting - that our ancestors were fighting for.

Project Partners

Yeredon (Djoumanzana, Mali) - cultural preservation curriculum development + Afro diasporic training

TAPA - curriculum partner + youth ensemble cast

AS220 - curriculum partner + racial justice initiative 

PVD Parks Department - Artist Residency

PVD Mayor’s Office + Art Culture Tourism + PVD Fest - production + mentorship in public art 

Partnership for PVD Parks - fiscal sponsor for community engagement

Mass Moca Assets for Artists - curriculum + programming partner

Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading - mentor + cultural preservation curriculum development 

RI Black Storytellers - mentor + devising workshop performances

PRONK! - fiscal sponsor + incubator for public art + community organizing + production partner

GG Collective - organizing + production assistance

Park Studios PVD - audience experience curators

Haus of Codec - community curators 

School for Embodied Praxis - spiritual care + programming admin + curriculum development

Pushed Learning + Media - curriculum partner + school tour production

NEFA - Public Art Learning Fund grant 

Open Farms + Movement Education Outdoors - rehearsal space + curriculum development

Wilbury Theatre Group - production partner

PVDFest - production partner

FirstWorks - production partner

RI Foundation - production partner

The Prologue: This Is My Haus (Oct 2020)

October 18, 2020 (PRONK! 2020)

Produced by: Jess Brown + The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + PRONK!

Art + Performance Director: Matt Garza

Dramaturgy: April Brown + Matt Garza + Seydou Coulibaly

Written by: Matt Garza + Anthony "AM." Andrade + April Brown + Jess Brown

Choreography: Assitan "Sita" Coulibaly + Matt Garza, The Haus of Glitter Dance Company

Performers / Protestors: April Brown + Jess Brown + Assitan "Sita" Coulibaly + Simony + Anthony "AM." Andrade + Steven Choummalaithong + Matt Garza + Trent Lee + Alexx Temena

Honored Guest Performers: Seydou Coulibaly, Moussa Coulibaly, Darlene Andrade, Jada Littlejohn, The Eastern Medicine Singers, Haus of Caribe, Manny Escobar, Clam Jam Brass Band

Hair: Simony 

Costumes: Noel Puello

Makeup: Anthony "AM." Andrade + Abigail Page

Floral Art: Darlene Andrade + What Cheer Flower Company + Whole Foods

Floral Sculpture: Helen + Sussy Santana

Photography: Stephanie Ewens (above), Allam Mella

Videography: Preston Powell, Court King (Instagram Live), Julio Berroa (Facebook Live)

Community Spotlight Organizations: Movement Education Outdoors, The Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading, RIBS: RI Black Storytellers, blackearth lab, YIA: Youth In Action

The Site-Specific Workshop (Sept 2021)


This workshop performance is dedicated to Bounyim Choummalaithong, the father of Haus of Glitter Co-Founder + Co-Director, Steven Choummalaithong, who passed away on May 23, 2021. May this performance + community ritual embody Bounyim's lineage of wisdom, grace, resilience, passion, generosity, magic and of course, laughter and smiles. Our werk to shift the universe towards care, healing and liberation is because of the pain our parents and grandparents endured so we could build a better life. The true story of Steven’s family and other Laotian refugees is a central part of our historical intervention + activist dance opera, "The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins." We are holding our ancestors close and tight to honor their lineage in our practice. Our art feels more important than ever.


The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins: 

An (Outdoor) Activist Dance Opera

SITE-SPECIFIC WORKSHOP PERFORMANCE: Sept 9 + 10 + 11 + 15 + 16 + 17 at the former home of Esek Hopkins (1718-1802), thanks to a 2-year PARKIST artist residency with The City of Providence Parks Department + The City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism

CREATED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company: Assitan "Sita" Coulibaly + Anthony "AM." Andrade + Steven Choummalaithong + Matt Garza + Trent Lee

PRODUCED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Performance Lab + Wilbury Theatre Group + PRONK! Fest + PVD Fest + The RI Foundation + The Providence Parks Dept + The Providence Department of Art, Culture & Tourism


CONSULTING ART DIRECTOR: Jessica Brown "The Lady J Brown"

DIRECTOR OF SPIRITUAL CARE: Alexx "X" Temena, in collaboration with The School for Embodied Practice


DIRECTOR OF FILM: Oliver "Sydesho" Arias



FILM + PHOTOGRAPHY: Nick Marcoux + Efrel Solares + Erin X. Smithers + Rey Londres

FISCAL SPONSOR: The Partnership for Providence Parks

ACT 1: The House Formerly Known As Esek Hopkins'








ACT 2: The Bottom of The Atlantic Ocean

INSTALLATION: Matt Garza + Anthony "AM." Andrade + Jess Brown + KeiKei Harley + Kay Marte + Jax Randle + Kego Roberts Fae + Kris Weir + The Glitter Goddess Collective NYC 









The womxn who hung herself on the first voyage of the slaveship "Sally", commanded by Esek Hopkins + Bounyim Choummalaithong + Bounyong Choummalaithong + Michelle Bach-Coulibaly + Seydou Coulibaly + Darlene Andrade + Tony Andrade + Milly Flores + Nelda Iris Garza + Rolando Garza + Destiny Robinson + PJ Robinson +  Darlene Munroe + Kai Cameron + Val Tutson + Jo Ayuso + Ousmane (Omari) Wiles + Lizzie Araujo-Haller +  Gina Rodriguez-Dixon + Iliana Saavedra + Jess Brown +  funmi eileru + Edwige Charlot + Becky Kerner + Nasirah Dupont + Javi Hamel + Janayla Chavarria + Karina Faial + Micah Salkind + Wendy Nilsson + WOJO & the entire Parks Team + Avi David + Cassie Jendzejec + Mike Gore + Spicoli Kris & Sara Weir + Simcha Davis + Dr. Dannie Ritche + Vatic Kumba + Erminio Pinque, Big Nazo Labs + Porsha Funches + San Shoppell + Jenn Thomas + Nick Marcoux + Rachel Nadeau  + Eliza Bryant + Michaela McCaughey + Brittany Lombardi + Liz Richards-Hegnauer + Zuleika Vidal + Areema Sweeney + Ammar Zia + Joseph Aaron Segal (Pretty Snake) + Yarrow Thorne + The Liberation Garden + The Haus of Glitter Record Label + The Haus Meal Train Participants + The Yeredon Center, Mali + The Glitter Goddess Collective NYC + AS220 & AS220 Youth + TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts + The Clam Jam Brass Band + The Extraordinary Rendition Band + PVDFest + FirstWorks + Providence Department of Art, Culture & Tourism + RISCA: RI State Council for the Arts + The Avenue Concept + Brown University + Preservation RI + Providence Public Libraries + Rochambeau Community Library + Roger Williams Parks Conservancy + Project Wayfinder + The Cedarhurst Center for the Arts + The DownDog Yoga App Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading, Movement Education Outdoors, blackearth lab, Open Farms Retreat, Pushed Learning & Media, The Dragon's Egg,  RIBS: RI Black Storytellers, New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, RI State Conservation Committee, Sustain PVD Fair, Northern RI Conservation District, RI Environmental Education Association + Safe Streets Coalition + our BEAUTIFUL Community who has held us so deeply and lovingly over the last 2-years and beyond