By: Quinn Bryant
The Black History Month showcase has returned to an in-person format after it went virtual for its 2021 showcase. This year it is all about positivity.
The Black History Month Showcase is one of BSA’s biggest events of the school year, alongside Expressions and The Nutcracker. For the showcase, members of the Black community here at BSA came together to celebrate Black excellence and culture for the entire school.
“Everyone at school should have moments where they feel celebrated; this showcase is a really big part of that,” says Senior Black History Month Dance Director, Jaylah Symonette.
In November, the Black History Month Showcase leadership team – Anu Jinadu, Joseph Hatchett, Jaylah Symonette, Davon Collier, and Ebban Dorsey, along with advisors Ayanna Freelon and Christian Whitley – held auditions where students presented their ideas based on the decided theme, Black Joy in Baltimore.
Senior Black History Month Music Director, Ebban Dorsey, described that the “additions are completely open to creativity and collaboration, as long as they are on the theme.”
As described by Senior Black History Month Theater Director Davon Collier, this showcase is not just a talent show like what most schools do. “It’s not just an opportunity to say, oh hey, I can sing, I can dance, let me go and perform on stage because I’m Black, but actually finding the roots of Black history throughout.”
What also makes this showcase unique from other schools is the “amount of talent here at BSA”, says Dorsey.
This year’s theme is Black Joy in Baltimore. The decision behind the theme, Collier says, is that “Baltimore is seen as this really bad place, but we wanted to showcase the joy and beauty that is within Baltimore.”
Symonette added that “Baltimore is a creative city. A lot of the talks surrounding Black history month always have to do with the atrocities that the Black community has faced, which totally makes sense. That stuff definitely needs to be talked about, but it’s nice to focus on the joy.”
Based on the theme, these three members of the leadership team said that the student body should “expect greatness. A lot of joy, a lot of energy, a lot of fun, and expect a lot more
Baltimore; we have Baltimore club music, legends, and things that make Baltimore what it is in a positive sense.”
Collier is excited to show his piece from The Wiz, a 1978 musical.“You may be wondering where The Wiz comes into play in Baltimore, but The Wiz debuted at Arena Players, which is right up the street from BSA.”
Symonette is very proud of Atiya Prettyman’s majorette piece and Iyona Kane’s Baltimore inspired club piece.
However, like everything in our modern world, the pandemic has changed things. Symonette expressed that they lost some performances to do people’s comfortability with the ongoing pandemic.
There was also “not a lot of available space, so we are trying to roll with the punches,” says Collier. Like everyone, the leadership team is just “hoping for the best with the pandemic,” says Collier.
When asked “what does this showcase mean to you personality?”, Collier, Symonette, and Dorcey reflected on the significance of the show.
Collier expressed, “this showcase hits home for me. Being Black in Baltimore, hearing the ice cream truck down the street, Black love, it just really hits home for me”.
“I wasn’t interested in seeing any more Black pain projects. I feel like a lot of the representation we get as Back people is about racism and police brutality, and we need to talk about that stuff too, but it’s nice to see my Black friends and peers involved in something that doesn’t have to do with that. We just get to celebrate ourselves,” says Symonette.
Dorcey reflected on her first time seeing the show. “I was still in middle school, but my older brother was here at BSA, and seeing it was one of the best experiences of my life personally. To see all of these Black students be creative and express themselves, talking about important issues in front of the whole school, gave me a lot of hope for being a part of BSA because I wanted to do that too.”
This year’s performance will be held on Friday, February 11th. Freshman and Sophomores will see the performance during BSA Crew and Junior and Seniors will see it during 4th period. The evening show, which is open to the public, will be at 6:00 pm.
After the performances on the 11th, Collier hopes that “the student body leaves with a sense of joy and amazement.” Symonette wishes that ‘the young Black artists in the audience feel like themselves and that their art deserves to be celebrated. That they leave saying, ‘I am worth celebrating, my art is worth celebrating, this community is worth celebrating.’”
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