The Dancers

Unwrapping Vanessa Art Rage Gallery 2017

The Dancers

Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell

Black ballerina’s were sparse on the stages of my early youth.

Told their big bottoms, their ample bosoms made them too heavy to fly. Their cafe au lait and chocolate tones clashed with white swans. Raven Wilkinson put through the indignity of being forced to dance in white face!

A branch of the Revolution stepped to the front line, and created Dance Theaters in the skin of our own. And out of the corners of my eye, I saw that the People Could Fly! Pearl Primus, Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, Judith Jamison...

And my friend Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell.

Who teaches black bodies, brown bodies, gold, yellow and white bodies how to to soar!

Slender, Rubenesque, Love Handles, and Junk in the Trunk!

Cheryl tells our children to listen to the rhythms in their hearts! Her legacy - black swans in major dance troupes across America!

I honor Cheryl, and all the Women of the Dance, with this quilt.

When I first declared myself a storyteller, Cheryl took me seriously.

She offered me advice as a woman making her living as an artist.

She gave me space in her dance school to hold my first storytelling class! And even now when I my feet are too heavy to walk, she offers me her hand and says, “Let’s dance!”

Toe Shoes gifted to me by a friend, Cotton Cloth from Ghana and the U.S., trims and lace from Ghana and the U.S., tie-dyed and painted cloth, trims, and lace, vintage and new buttons, glass beads, trade beads from Ghana, ribbon, raffia, handmade cotton book, archival pen