The Wake Project is a multi-faceted endeavor that seeks to address racism and reconciliation. The current three aspects include: A solo dance and spoken word performance that addresses race specifically from the personal experience of Camerin Allgood McKinnon, project creator and artistic director, and her journey to awareness of white privilege and the action required by such understanding. A diversity training that uses movement as a catalyst for conversation on the subject of race and racial identity and awareness. And finally a full evening length dance work that tells the story of a family’s journey to racial awareness and healing over three generations.
Solo: The solo, entitled “wake (v): to become roused from a tranquil or inactive state” addresses white privilege specifically dealing with the journey to awareness of that privilege and the struggle to maintain that awareness on a daily bases while discovering how to use it as a catalyst for healing and justice. "Wake" finishes with a call to action, to use this awareness to address racism within the audience members as individuals, as well to address racism as it exists within institutions in which audience members are involved. The solo is designed to be coupled with a diversity training / talk back session so that the deep topics touched on in the dance work can be identified, and tackled in reflection. The design is such that participants can leave the performance/ discussion with clear objectives and enthusiastic commitments to rid their own personal lives of racism while impacting the institutions with which one regularly interacts in positive and uplifting change.
While the personal story of the solo addresses white privilege specifically, it encompasses a capacity to speak to all individuals that are involved in the power struggle of injustice. The training session following the solo can be designed specifically for the group being addressed. When working with educators of various racial and ethnic backgrounds it is relevant to relate the work to the experience of the educators when dealing with students outside of their own cultural and racial identity. When working to promote diversity in a mixed corporate workforce the dialogue can be modified to discuss how to successfully interact with co-workers that come from different cultural and racial backgrounds. The discussion encourages any group to be proactive in their approach to connecting with and accepting the “other” in meaningful and authentic ways.
Diversity Training: The diversity training aspect of the wake project is entitled “Are You Awake?” with the follow-up session entitled “When We Press Snooze”. In diversity trainings it is first necessary to create a safe environment where this volatile topic can be addressed in positive and successful manner. While the solo serves to lay some of this ground work, rules are laid out and movement based ice breakers initiated to further create such an atmosphere. Once a safe environment has been established the training uses movement as a medium to allow stories to be told and sharing to occur. Abstract topics are addressed through improvisation games that drive home specific ideas that lead to hearing and understanding the truth of all individuals involved. The follow-up session entitled “When We Press Snooze” particularly speaks to the constant vigilance required to maintain awareness as well as the daily work vital to making real change in the lives of participants and the institutions in which they are involved.
Full Evening Length Work: The evening length piece is a work in progress currently consisting of the solo “wake (v): to become roused from a tranquil or inactive state” and an ensemble work entitled “Stir” (working title) that looks at racial awareness and reconciliation from a broader and more abstract view that speaks not to one specific story of struggle toward awareness and healing, but a more general understanding of the journey we must all take to reach egalitarianism. The vision for the complete work is that it will tell the story of the racial consciousness of two families from two separate racial backgrounds over three generations. The story begins in Wadesboro, North Carolina where both families resided in close proximity in the 1930s and follows their separate journeys around North Carolina to Philadelphia and Atlanta then back to North Carolina and finally ending up in Charlotte under one loving roof. The work will use this broader journey to glimpse the individual accounts of family members across these three generations, using these specific stories to reflect a more general sense of racial consciousness and inequality over time.
The three projects together combine to create a plethora of information presented in a variety of forms that require personal reflection and will no doubt lead to conversation. Each section in itself is designed to inspire a need for and understanding of the change necessary to lead us in the next step toward social equality in our society and around the world. As in the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is admitting there is a problem and understanding that we have the power to be part of the solution. The Wake Project uses movement art to empower participants and audience members to recognize the problem, except responsibility in being part of the solution and create change.