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to the American census, David Roussève and I are a part
of the national cultural phenomenon known as the "Baby Boomers."
within our communities, we were to be forever marked as "The
Brown vs. Board of Education babies." We were recipients
of that landmark Supreme Court decision which would have a lasting
impact on the choices we would have, and under what conditions
would we have to choose once again to heed the call of "Keep
on children, don't you get weary."
would also live through the southern Civil Rights Movement, the
Black Power Movement and the assassinations of Martin Luther King,
Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers, and others who were, as James
Baldwin so bitterly commented, "murdered with the consent
of the governed."
would enter the elite halls of academia where our parents had
only been allowed to clean, and our assignment was to prove that
we were there, not because of "good will" but "brain
would also discover a new kind of racism, more subtle in its presentation,
yet more deadly in its ability to harm; racism such as the assumption
by faculty and staff as to our "preparedness" to even
be there; and, more devastating, seeing reflected back to us such
"facts" as our communities are ghettos, our institutions
substandard and the African continent presented as the "
battle would be to change the very definition of "scholarship"
and, even more importantly, to continue to learn these skills
without internalizing the dominant culture by negating our own.
we also had our hearts and minds open to new possibilities. David
Roussève, using, in the words of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,
"the master's tools to dismantle the master's house,"
continued to develop his work and created a multi-racial dance
theater group that would show the impact of slavery on the Black
family. He would give honor to parents, aunts, uncles, cousins
and others who defined "extended family" and showed
how our community even dealt with our damaged souls.
finally, he would go back to our cultural markings and use the
tools of the griot, now in the Americas known as the "storyteller,"
to tell the memories our forebears were told to forget if they,
and we, were to survive in this country.
this current climate where the call for multicultural education
is needed in the academy, in this society and in the world, David's
starting point is to bring together all the complexities of his
unique human condition, as an artist, an educator and a man.
Roussève's work and philosophy flows from the tradition
of what the late James Baldwin refers to as a "Black Westerner."
the voice and influence of the storytelling technique of his grandmother
and reaching back into the Western canon of such classical composers
as Wagner and Puccini, he brilliantly tells, through the use of
movement, text and music, the love story of two slaves, John and
Sarah, and their dramatic attempts at freedom in his work, "Love
with Reality, his multi-racial dance/theater company of seven
performers, "Love Songs" was the third Roussève
work commissioned and presented at the Next Wave Festival at the
Brooklyn Academy of Music.
company has toured internationally and garnered such reviews as
"...a call for grace, a cry to reunite with some large universal
framework... Inspired, ingenious work" (Chicago Sun Times).
Magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and currently
a professor in UCLA's World Arts and Cultures department, Mr.
Roussève is the recipient of many grants and fellowships,
and has created new work for the Houston Ballet, Ballet Hispanico,
the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and the Atlanta Ballet,
BrotherMen, director Demetria Royals re-stages for film excerpts
of this performance, along with interviews with Mr. Roussève.