Episode 12: passing/through/the great middle

Eastside Cultural Center / February 2-3, 2018
Presented by
EastSide Arts Alliance, NAKA Dance Theater and Deep Waters Dance Theater

we are ritual/procession. we are under/water/ground. we are witness/testifier. we are guided by ocean/salt/words “Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?… Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter.”
The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara 

House/Full of BlackWomen began in 2015. It is a site specific ritual performance project that addresses issues of displacement, well being, and sex trafficking of black women and girls in Oakland. Set in various public sites throughout Oakland over a three-year period, this community engaged project is performed as a series of “Episodes” that are driven by the core question, “How can we, as black women and girls find space to breathe, and be well within a

stable home?” To view a list of our Episodes, Videos, visit www.deepwatersdance.com or housefullofblackwomen.com Follow us or post about us on Instagram @housefullofblackwomen or Facebook House/Full. If you would like to donate to this project please visit dancersgroup.org and donate to Amara Tabor-Smith/Deep Waters Dance Theater.

Co Created by: Amara Tabor-Smith and Ellen Sebastian Chang in collaboration with the performers

Music Composition: Chris Evans, Tossie Long, Nkeiruka Oruche, Monica Hastings-Smith

Text: Amara Tabor-Smith, “Same Girl” text adapted from Lose Your Mother by Saidiya Hartman

Video Installation and Film: Alexa Burrell

Set Design: Dana Kawano, Yoshi Asai, Tobe Correal, Yvette Aldama

Treasure Chest Jewels: Rebecca Halas

Costumes: Dana Kawano, Amara Tabor-Smith, Regina Calloway

Lighting Design: Ellen Sebastian Chang

Chris Evans
Monica Hastings-Smith
Tossie Long
Amber McZeal
Sit-Al Muktari
Nkeiruka Oruche
Karen Ransom
Shelley Davis-Roberts
Sheila Russell
Keisha Turner
Amara Tabor-Smith
Erica Wilson 

Spiritual Support: Tobe Correal, Yvette Aldama

Technical Staff and Crew: Jose Navarrete, Susanne Takehara, Shaunnah Ray, Allison Santiago, La Negra Ice Cream Company – Y. L’ade Aldama

Yoshinori Asai visual/installation artist/Japan/pursuing MFA in Studio Art.

Yvette L’ade Aldama omo’ni chango | spiritual doula | shrine builder | daughter| sister | wife | aunt | friend | lover | fighter | foodist.

Alexa Burrell is a video artist, animator and musician who creates visual and auditory collages about the black femme experience.

Tobe Melora Correal oni Yemoja, has an M.A. in Consciousness Studies, is a warm-blue-salt-water mermaid and the author of Finding Soul on the Path of Orisa.


In the spirit of Sankofa, we go back to get it and bring it forth to impact and influence the now.

1792: Captain Kimber is brought up on charges before the British commons by William Wilberforce for the brutal murder of an enslaved African girl aboard the ship called the recovery. It is an attempt to advocate for the abolition of Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.

Captain Kimber is acquitted and the slave trade continues on legally in Britain for another 15 years.

Each year on February 2nd in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil thousands of people come to a little cove in the Rio Vermelho neighborhood to make offerings and pay homage to Yemanja, the Orixá/divinity of the ocean in the religion known in Brazil as Candomblé, and known as Ifá in Nigeria. Yemanja whose name in the Yoruba language translates as “mother whose children are fish” is recognized as the mother/protector of those stolen/enslaved Africans who both survived the middle passage, and those who did not. 

She is the past, present, and future--where time and spirit meet and swirl in her deep ocean terrain. We are guided/inspired in this work by: the Orishas Yemaya and Eleggua, our individual and collective ancestors, the beautiful important texts written by Toni Cade Bambara and Saidiya Hartman. And always, we are guided by the experiences and spirits of black women and girls, everywhere, Always.

Be on this journey, this ritual with us tonight to undo that which needs undoing.

Many elders like to say, “if you want to understand where you are, you must understand where you came from/what came before you”.

Displacement/eviction/unaffordable and diaspora have the same origin.

Slavery and human trafficking are the same thing.

Have you seen her? Do you see us?

And as the character Minnie Ransom says in the opening line of Toni Cade

Bambara’s book, “The Salt Eaters”, we ask you, our audience/witness:

“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?”

Made possible with support from Susan Sillins Foundation, Creative Capital, Creative Work Fund, Akonadi Beloved Community Foundation, City of Oakland, Richard C. Munroe Foundation, MAP Fund, Sam Mazza Foundation, Cynthia Moore and Individual Donors.

Episode: The Meaning of Canaries

October 21-22, 2016
Conceived by
Amara Tabor Smith and Ellen Sebastian Chang
Choreographed by Amara Tabor-Smith in collaboration with the performers

This Episode, The Meaning of Canaries, is a dream-like ritual experience inspired by the oracles of Audre Lorde and Octavia Butler, and asks the question, “How do we re/claim our bodies, our homes when we were never meant to survive?”

Tonight is a journey. It is a ritual. In this time when the veil is thin,
There are spirits here with us.
The bird spirits
The spirits of this land’s first people
The spirits of panthers lost
Sisters lost
Daughters lost
And grieving black grandmothers
Who haunt the rooms of their former homes
Their families displaced
Now owned by the new gentry

(click to enlarge)

Zakiya Harris
Chris Evans
Regina Evans
Shelley Davis Roberts
Erica Wilson
Rami Margron
Aissaade Gabriela Negus
Keisha Turner
Karen Ransom
Nkeiruka Oruche
Amara Tabor-Smith
Sit-al-banat Muktari
Anisah Abdullah
Nesbyth Rieman
Rayla Meshawn
Jasmine Gaines
JahniahOmi Bahari

Tobe Melora Correal
Yvette Aldama

House/Full of Blackwomen

Conceived by Amara Tabor Smith in 2014, House/Full of Blackwomen is a three year multi-site specific performance ritual project, created in a series of EPISODES, that addresses the displacement, well-being and sex-trafficking of black women and girls in Oakland.