Arts & Culture / Dance / Mosaic / April 18, 2012

Finding identity through choreopoems

The journey to become an adult and finding self-identity is one that is confusing, scary and overwhelming at times, especially for people of color. Senior Monica Prince hopes to flesh out this struggle in her self-created, self-directed choreopoem, “Confessions in Living Color(ed).”
The whole choreopoem revolves around of the question, “What is necessary to live the best life possible,” and answers from college-aged people of color.
The show is the product of Prince’s McNair research from last summer and her Honors project this year.
The project idea originated two years ago while Prince studied abroad in Senegal, but draws mainly from eight interviews at the University of Oregon during her McNair research. Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” influenced the choreopoem, but Prince hoped to encompass more perspectives than just that of the black woman.
“A lot of the poems within the choreopoem don’t all focus on race,” Prince said. “Most of them focus on being female or being male or being poor or being distracted …”
This wide range of topics allows for a deep understanding of each of the characters in the choreopoem. Prince uses slam poetry, dance and the visual arts to create an encompassing story of eight individuals and one character, which is a fusion of many people.
“When I attacked the choreopoem model I wanted it to be legitimately a wide range of people’s perspectives,” Prince said.
The ninth character, Jada, is an amalgamation of many different experiences Prince learned during passing interviews and other conversations she had in Oregon, at Knox and elsewhere.
“Jada became this terribly broken human being. I feel so bad for her because all these horrible things happen to her; because all these horrible things happened to real people,” Prince said.
The weight and realism of the content in the choreopoem means it includes a lot of adult content.
“You have to be aware while you are watching the show that these people are real people these experiences are real,” Prince said. “That’s what makes this project so intense is because sitting down with my actors and being like, ‘look this happened to someone, it may have not happened to you, but it happened to someone and you need to do it justice.’”
The choreopoem may be a new medium to the audience members, but Prince believes the multi-medium show will best tell the stories of the individuals portrayed.
“Identity doesn’t mean just one thing,” Prince said, “because of that, it is why there are more than one mediums.”
For Prince, her choreopoem work was instrumental for her acceptance into the Georgia College and State University graduate program.
“Confessions in Living Color(ed)” will continue running each night through Saturday, April 21 in Kresge Recital Hall at 7 p.m.

John Williams

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