Finding the Right Dance: Ogemdi Ude in Conversation with Selah V. Hampton (An Excerpt)
May 10, 2022
Ogemdi Ude’s I know exactly what you mean premieres May 12-14 at Danspace Project as a part of Platform 2022: The Dream of the Audience (Part II).
For the purpose of the Platform 2022 catalogue, Ude sat down to a conversation with collaborator and performer Selah V. Hampton. They discuss the intimate process of making a work together, as close friends and Black femmes. Ruminating on what tensions, vulnerabilities, and excitement might surface in sharing their work with audiences this spring, the two collaborators explain that the performance will not present a finalized product but, rather, it will share a snapshot of their ongoing process as collaborators and confidantes. Please join us for I know exactly what you mean on May 12-14 to share in this moment.
To read Ude and Hamptons exchange in full and to read all of the Platform artists’ written contributions, please purchase a Platform 2022 catalogue. Audio book slated for release this Summer!
I know exactly what you mean is about fabricating, storytelling, and lying. All of the ways we navigate gaps in knowledge in order to create some semblance of a cohesive narrative of who we are and who we belong to. I spoke with one of my collaborators, Selah V. Hampton, about the experience of making a dance that is about truth seeking, with other Black femmes. We addressed the following: What is the right dance? What is the wrong dance? And how do we know when we’ve reached the end of these dances?
Ogemdi: This question of, “how do we know when we’ve reached the end of a dance?” is a curiosity coming up in the way that we’re talking about what the space is like with one another and what we have seen embodied in Black femme friendships. In this case, what the end of the dance could be, is so exciting because it just means that I don’t have to miss y’all. When this process is over, I’m still going to see you. There was a space we made where we understood the importance of seeing each other and working with one another. For that to have been opened, and for that to see some sort of end… Whatever “right” or “wrong” dance means, I think there’s something about the end of the dance that is making me think of one of those spin top toys where you pull it up and it pops off and it goes spinning. The end is when you’re done pulling. The spin is what comes after the end.
Selah: The world [I know exactly what you mean] is so rich. I never know where a beginning or an end is or ever was. Things materialize out of things I didn’t ever know were material. I do not know if this is a beginning or an end or a middle. There aren’t ever clear endings. This is how it is in this space and time and it may be returned to at another point. Here’s where the practice has gotten us and we are calling a truce because it is “performance day” but we have not found an ending to it. But we are not set in that movement. We haven’t answered all the questions and accomplished all of the goals. No. But what is beautiful is pulling up the curtain at this point of the process that we’re in. And to say, in this snapshot of time here is what has been built. And then the curtain goes down and maybe it turns into nothing more. Maybe it lives on in these other ways. But I don’t think there’s ever an end. At least not in this stuff.