The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins
ACTIVIST DANCE OPERA
HERITAGE + DANCE PARTY ALBUM
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
OUR DIGITAL PROGRAM
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 SITE-SPECIFIC WORKSHOP PERFORMANCE (2021)
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
SOUND DESIGN + MUSIC PRODUCTION: Anthony "AM." Andrade
CONSULTING ART DIRECTOR: Jessica Brown "The Lady J Brown"
DIRECTOR OF SPIRITUAL CARE: Alexx "X" Temena, in collaboration with The School for Embodied Practice
COUTURE COSTUME FASHION BY: Noel Puello
DIRECTOR OF FILM: Oliver "Sydesho" Arias
TECHNICAL DIRECTION: Max Ponticelli
LIGHTING DESIGN: Andy Russ
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'
CREATED + PERFORMED BY: Becky Bass (Narrator) + April Brown (The Kween) + Abigail Page (The Kween's BFF)
DRAMATURGY + DEVELOPMENT: Jess Brown, in collaboration with "THIS IS MY HOUSE"
INSTALLATION: Helen Santana
CREATED + PERFORMED BY: Shey 'Rí Acu' Rivera Ríos
INSTALLATION: Matt Garza + Trent Lee + Young Artists from Dana Helwick's Art Classroom in Growing Up Green Elementary School (NYC) + Young Providence Artists from The Haus of Glitter's Liberation Garden Summer Camp (in collaboration with PASA) taught by Efrel Solares & Sam Zimmer
THE GULF OF MÉXICO
CREATED + PERFORMED BY: Matt Garza (inspired by a performance from Chavela Vargas)
INSTALLATION: Matt Garza
GUITAR: Avi David + Kevin Rodriguez
DRAMATURGY: Nelda Iris Garza + Rolando Garza
INSTALLATION: Matt Garza + Kay Marte + KeiKei Harley + Trent Lee + San Shoppell
THE BAMBANA EMPIRE
CREATED + PERFORMED BY: Assitan Coulibaly
ARCHIVAL MUSIC PERFORMED BY: Sekou Camara
DRAMATURGY: Seydou Coulibaly + Michelle Bach-Coulibaly
INSTALLATION: Matt Garza + Trent Lee + AS220 Youth Visuals
AFRO-INDIGENOUS X LAOTIAN RIVERS
CREATED + PERFORMED BY: Trent Lee + Steven Choummalaithong
DRAMATURGY: Darlene Munroe + funmi aileru + Bounyong Choummalaithong
INSTALLATION: Matt Garza + Kay Marte
CREATED + PERFORMED BY: Anthony "AM." Andrade
VOCAL PERFORMANCE BY: Darlene Andrade "Lady D" + Anthony "AM." Andrade
MUSIC WRITTEN + COMPOSED BY: Joaquim do Livramento, Jr.
GUITAR + MANDOLIN: Avi David
DRAMATURGY: Darlene Andrade + Jacqueline Ramos
INSTALLATION: "[we are] stardust" by funmi aileru
ART GALLERY BY: "Futureworlds: Amerikkka Better Have My Money" by AS220 Youth
AUDIENCE EXPERIENCE CURATED BY: The Park Studios
PRONK! 2021 COMMUNITY TABLING CURATED BY: The Haus of Codec
BAR + FOOD PROVIDED BY: AS220 Food + Drink
MUSIC BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Performance Lab
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
MUSIC CREATED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Avi David + Kevin Rodriguez + Moises Rogers, Jr. + Mike Gore
PERFORMED BY: Becky Bass
MUSIC CREATED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Satta Jallah + Anjel Newman (Thee Villian // Medusah Black) + April Brown
FILM BY: Abigail Page
CREATIVE DIRECTION + CHOREOGRAPHY: Assitan "Sita" Coulibaly
MUSIC CREATED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Kevin Rodriguez + Moises Rogers, Jr.
PERFORMED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Sidy Maiga + Ira Maiga
OCEAN BREATH HAUS MEDITATION
CREATED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company
FACILITATED BY: April Brown + Becky Bass
MUSIC CREATED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Kevin Rodriguez + Moises Rogers, Jr. + Elisson Peralta
CHOREOGRAPHY: Matt Garza + Assitan "Sita" Coulibaly + Martin Rivera-Baldera
MUSIC CREATED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Julio Berroa (Dusknight)
CHOREOGRAPHY: Anthony "AM." Andrade + Assitan "Sita" Coulibaly + Matt Garza + Carlos "Lanvin" Irizarry
MUSIC CREATED BY: The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Kevin Rodriguez + Moises Rogers, Jr. + Avi David + Mike Gore + Ben Freeman
PERFORMED BY: Becky Bass + April Brown
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
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