Solvation: Music, dance, spoken word in W-S

by Keith Barber

Youth arts ensemble Authoring Action concluded its five-week intensive youth author apprenticeship program with its production of Solvation at the Children’s Home in Winston-Salem on July 28. (photo by Keith T. Barber)

Authoring Action, the youth arts ensemble formerly “Boneless,” a spoken word performance by Bailey and Karizma Little. known as the Winston-Salem Youth Arts Institute, has a “There’s a black hole in my heart,” Bailey and Little recited. “Will straightforward motto: “Our words will pierce you.” The anyone be able to heal my heart?” group’s commitment to living up to that lofty ideal was A musical transition led into “Love Fight,” a blend of song and spo- abundantly evident during its performance of Solvation, on July 28 at the Children’s Home in Winston-Salem.

The two-hour production comprised of spoken word, music, monologues, raps, dance and short films represented the young artists’ graduation recital as their annual summer arts workshop drew to a close.

In the opening number, soloists Tony Jenkins, James Terry and Hunter McIntosh lifted their voices to the original music of Jimmy Jeter, Eric Green and Greg Tahtinen.

“I have a message people,” the young artists sang in unison.

Alexis Paige, Dionna Daniel, Ebony Little and Jevon Jarred joined their classmates to deliver that message in song.

Terry concluded the overture with a poem. “I came here to engage, not to perform,” Terry declared. Each spoken word piece flowed seamlessly into the next musical performance. The opening number set a high bar, and the young artists managed to build on that momentum until the jubilant finale.

In the piece “Home,” poets McIntosh, Daniel, Jarred, along with Devin Terry, Juwon Goolsby, Nick Stafford, Kamesha Bailey interwove their tales of dysfunctional home lives.

“There was drugs in his system at night and blood stains on his shirt in the morning,” McIntosh recited. “A shadow consumed his innocence…. Blood is supposed to be thicker than water but it all goes down the same.”

The young artists projected their voices with confidence and professionalism. The behind-the-scenes work of Authoring Action Artistic Director Nathan Ross Freeman and Executive Director and vocal coach, Lynn Rhoades, paid big dividends with a top-notch performance by the youth ensemble.

Roscha Scales closed with her song “Thank you,” which flowed into ken word that touched on the darker side of young love.

“She’s in love but it’s wrong,” Alexis Paige and Dionna Daniel sang. “She can’t leave him alone and he beats her; throws her head to the floor.”

In unison, the ensemble sang, “Is it love or a fight? Is it wrong or right? Is it do or die? Is it true or a lie?” McIntosh shared a story of child abuse in his poem, “Rope Burn.” “All my tears fall like frozen rain; still the blood keeps flowing through my veins,” McIntosh said. “A solid fist hits my face. Still I’m the one feeling disgraced.”

Each tale was tinged with sadness but the arc of the program brought the young artists back to a place of hope, a place of rebirth and renewal.

The interpretive dance sequence, choreographed by Audra Byers, showcased the impressive range of the youth ensemble’s talents. As each performer recited their poem, a fellow cast member interpreted their words through movement. Tales of the harsh realities of a teenager’s life were balanced by a sense of hope for a brighter future.

“Even when everything is wrong, the sun is outside something must be right,” the ensemble recited.

In “Boom Box,” Jared Smith did a terrific job blending hip-hop dance moves with Byers’ modern dance choreography.

The show concluded with a finale, “Solvation Nation.” The audience stood and clapped along as the young artists sang, “Everywhere we go, we come to salute your soul/ Solvation! New nation!” Authoring Action’s young artists put on a show that transcended a poetry slam that could best be described as an explosion of young talent. Freeman, Rhoades and their teaching artists should be commended for the fantastic job of mentoring and preparing the young artists for the greatest stage of all — life.