Diverse cast shines at Tulsa Ballet’s 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre-inspired production “Breakin’ Bricks”

by The Black Wall Street Times
tulsa ballet

TULSA, Okla. – On the year of the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Tulsa Ballet will perform an inspiring multimedia experience choreographed by Jennifer Archibald, combining dance and dialogue in a piece that hopes to promote healing that is long overdue. 

Breakin’Bricks will open the doors for Tulsans to interrogate societal practices that do harm and hinder,” says Archibald. “It invites them to invest in the future by imagining a Tulsa that does not perpetuate racial divide, inequity or oppression, and rather actively works toward the development of an equitable field for all.” 

WHEN AND WHERE: 

  • Thur. October 28, 7:00 pm at Tulsa PAC | 110 E 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103 (Preview Night).
  • Fri. October 29, 7:30 pm at Tulsa PAC | 110 E 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103.
  • Sat. October 30, 7:30 pm at Tulsa PAC | 110 E 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103.
  • Sun. October 31, 2:30 pm at Tulsa PAC | 110 E 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103.

Tickets start at $25. To make a purchase, call the Tulsa Ballet Box Office at 918.749.6006 or visit tulsaballet.org.  Discounted student tickets are available with valid ID. 

Tulsa Ballet

Tulsa Ballet’s diverse cast performs “Breakin’ Bricks”, a production inspired by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Archibald)

Originally conceived as a historical timeline, through intensive research that included intimate conversations with descendants of survivors, this project has evolved both in structure and in meaning. These interviews, showcasing the diverse voices of the Tulsa community, will provide the documented visuals the audiences will see on stage. 

“In the research process,” Archibald explains. “I found the conversation with members of the community gave me a deeper understanding of the city and its citizens…There was a significant shift in my creative process while interviewing Tulsans from different cultural backgrounds. Their voices are the spine of the work.” 

ghana survivor department of justice mass grave

Tulsa Race Massacre survivor Hughes Van Ellis and survivor Viola Fletcher are honored in Ghana. Photo credit: Ayana Baraka.

Tulsa Ballet uses platform to reflect on “transformational event”

Artistic Director Marcello Angelini finds that it is necessary and critical to be more than just a ballet company who presents beautiful dances. “Our commitment to the community goes beyond the presentation of dance,” Angelini says. “We have an obligation to present, without passing judgement or necessarily offering a solution, works that are pertinent to the cultural issues of the past and present.”

“We are a Tulsa cultural institution and it’s unthinkable that we  don’t use our platform to reflect on the most transformational event of the past 100 years for  our community, and how it has affected our lives in the present. All that in the hopes to learn a  number of lessons that will positively shape our future, Angelini added. 

This story, however, could not be told with the absence of Black bodies, and this project  highlighted the reality that, although Tulsa Ballet is highly diverse internationally and racially,  the Company does lack Black dance artists. 

Mass grave Tulsa Massacre

Palpable frustration and anger filled the air as members of the community watched the city of Tulsa rush through a reburial of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims. (Photo by Mike Creef / The Black Wall Street Times)

An unapologetically Black production

Committed to telling this story, Tulsa Ballet engaged seven extraordinary Black dance artists to  collaborate with the Company on this important and groundbreaking production. These seven artists are singular and seasoned, having performed with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater,  Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet Memphis, BalletMet and more. 

“For me, Breakin’Bricks is about breaking down walls between people in a segmented society,”  Archibald says. “The title is about awareness, rebuilding and finding communal support.” 

Tulsa Ballet

Performers of Tulsa Ballet’s “Breakin’ Bricks”, a production inspired by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Archibald)

The program will be presented as a double bill with two very different pieces presented. The  evening will open with the return of Flight of Fancy, a fast-paced and lively piece by Ma Cong, a piece Tulsa World called, “…a joyous celebration.”

Fancy was choreographed on the Company in  2016 as part of the Creations in Studio K performance. According to Cong, Flight of Fancy was  “designed to impart a feeling of curiosity and playfulness to the audience.” Ma Cong, former Resident Choreographer of Tulsa Ballet during the last 12 years, was recently hired by Richmond  Ballet as their Associate Artistic Director. 

tulsa race massacre mural

Black Wall Street mural depicting the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, on OSU Langston campus. (Erika Stone / The Black Wall Street Times).

QUICK FACTS 

WHEN AND WHERE: 

  • Thur. October 28, 7:00 pm at Tulsa PAC | 110 E 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103 (Preview Night)
  • Fri. October 29, 7:30 pm at Tulsa PAC | 110 E 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103
  • Sat. October 30, 7:30 pm at Tulsa PAC | 110 E 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103
  • Sun. October 31, 2:30 pm at Tulsa PAC | 110 E 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103
See also
Policing firm releases findings on TPD in community meetings

Tickets start at $25. To make a purchase, call the Tulsa Ballet Box Office at 918.749.6006 or visit tulsaballet.org.  Discounted student tickets are available with valid ID. 

x

Leave a Reply

You may also like

THE BLACK WALL STREET TIMES

Support Black-owned media, learn our stories and diverse perspectives by subscribing below.