The college continued its Artist and Lecture Series with “An Evening with Nikki Giovanni: Poetry: Emotional Knowledge” on Feb. 20 and “The Next Generation of Dance: Ailey II” on Feb. 25.
“I think it is important that our students and our community have an opportunity to experience a variety of perspectives to grow as people,” said David Rector, Ed. D., dean of student life.
In line with the series theme “Reflections”, Giovanni reflected on her life and the past, present, and future issues affecting America.
Giovanni said that she grew up “as the girl in the corner,” which helped in her development as a poet, allowing her to observe. “The day I’m not that girl in the corner is the day I’m gone,” she said.
Giovanni opened with her poem, “We Marched”. It was written about her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. “We Marched” celebrated the contributions to history and the progress Delta Sigma Theta has made. The Tacoma alumni chapter of the sorority, who were in attendance at the event dressed in the sorority’s color of crimson and cream, gave Giovanni a standing ovation after her poem.
Giovanni shared the inspiration behind her newest book, “Chasing Utopia”. In honor of her mother who had passed and loved beer, Giovanni decided that “if she was going to drink a beer for mommy, then it should be the best,” which was Samuel Adams Utopia.
Giovanni read two poems from “Chasing Utopia”. One dedicated to her sister who had passed after her mother, titled “My Sister and Me”. It was supposed to capture the “happiness, the nature of childhood,” she said. She also read “Still Life in Apron”.
“You all come from a generation of tweets and texts, so that is going to change how the world looks at words,” said Giovanni, “but there are many forms of literacy because words are what we, as humans, do.”
Ailey II is the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s acclaimed junior company founded in 1974. “The entire Ailey organization, including Ailey II and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, are incredibly well regarded and sought after all over the country,” said Kellie Purce Braseth, director of college relations.
According to the event program, the company merges “the spirit and energy of the country’s best young” dancers with the creative passion of “today’s most outstanding emerging choreographers.”
“Alchemies”, choreographed by Adam Barruch, opened the evening. The dance consisted of movements reflective of human interaction.
The next piece was an excerpt from Malcom Low’s “One Forgotten Moment” in which dancers Shay Band and Gentry Isaiah George captured the pain of loss set to Annie Lennox’s cover of “Every Time We Say Goodbye”.
Then came “Cuore Sott’Olio” by Katarzyna Skarpetowska, which followed a women’s retrospective journey into her previous relationships. The dance had a shifting narrative, from passionate to vulnerable to joyous.
The company closed the evening with “Wings” choreographed by Jennifer Archibald, a haunting piece that explored the possibilities of angels among us. “The dancers are making a connection with angels,” said Powell. “It’s about that higher place – heaven – and having those interactions with angels.”
The Artist and Lecture Series continues on May 23 with a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Brown vs the Board of Education, which declared segregation of public schools by state law unconstitutional. The event will include a reenactment of the original Supreme Court by justices from the Washington State Supreme Court.
“I think a college has an important role to play in the social fabric of the community it serves,” said Purce Braseth. “We have a beautiful facility in the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts to expose students and community members to a breadth and diversity of ideas and performances and creations.”