Mother of Us All CityArts magazine review

Marsha Mutisi told me to check out Rachel Gallaher's astute impressions of The Mother of Us All in CityArts Magazine. Gallaher writes about her experience of the performance and quotes Donald Byrd from the post-show discussion to give a deeper context for the work.

Here are the final four paragraphs of her article:
The music (an original score composed by Byron Au Yong), live spoken word (Marsha Nyembesi Mutisi) and recorded soundtrack of various commentators spouting newsworthy phrases like, “This year Barack Obama will devote special resources to Africa,” blend together at times in a cacophonous blur that adds to the chaos factor of the show. Moments of unintelligible political jabber fade into background against the virility and emotional life of the dancing.

In a post-show discussion Donald Byrd spoke about the overwhelming accessibility of conflicting news stories and the wealth of information available about Africa.

“One of the things I was interested in is that the audience curate their own experience,” he said. “I don’t know what the answer is; even the people in Africa don’t know what they answer is. I never felt that the goal of any of these projects was to present a solution. The goal of this piece is to get people to think about Africa during the entire piece. Most people don’t even think about Africa once during their day.”

The audience can’t help but think about Africa during the performance, as the soundtrack provides a constant, needed reminder that that in fact is the focus of the piece. Without it, The Mother of Us All would be just another beautifully danced work from Donald Byrd.
Read the entire review called "The Mother of Us All" Presents Open-Ended Views of Africa in CityArts Magazine.
Dedicated to intercultural collaboration, Byron Au Yong composes songs of dislocation, music for a changing world. He teaches in Performing Arts & Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

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