Picture Red Hook was an interdisciplinary, site specific performance piece exploring the hopes and dreams of the residents of the Red Hook community in Brooklyn, New York. Picture Red Hook was commissioned by Dancing In The Streets at a time when the neighborhood was being targeted by developers. Located only 10 minutes from Lower Manhattan, Red Hook was a highly diverse community of working class peoples whose location made it highly desirable and vulnerable to gentrification and the displacement of the residents.
Picture Red Hook was the second installment of Zaccho Dance Theatre’s Picture Trilogy, which celebrates the aspirations of inner-city communities in transition. The Picture Trilogy also includes Picture Powderhorn (2000) and Picture Bayview Hunters Point (2018).
Throughout America, Black and brown working class neighborhoods are often depicted as violent, poverty stricken and filled with poorly educated residents who don’t possess family values or professional goals. Not only is this interpretation inaccurate, it is also dehumanizing in its one dimensional portrayal of complex circumstances and social issues. Although these communities may be deeply impacted by violence and crime stemming from gross inequities in economic opportunities and the realities of systemic racism, it would be wrong to assume that all residents of neighborhoods like Red Hook, Powderhorn, and Bayview Hunters Point participate in these behaviors. In fact, most residents are hard working, community-oriented, and driven by visions for their future success.
These misconstrued images and struggles of residents and their home is the source of inspiration for Joanna Haigood’s Picture Trilogy which illustrates, through image, voice, and movement how Black people are more than their circumstances. Each piece was designed in resistance to the persistent messages and displacement tactics that attempt to maintain the oppression of Black and brown people.
Over fifty residents were interviewed and videotaped by Joanna Haigood and her collaborators as part of the research process for Picture Red Hook. The performance included interview excerpts along with various other imagery that were projected to a height of 100 feet onto a 12-story grain terminal located within the Red Hook community. Spectacular aerial choreography allowed the seven member Zaccho dance company to interact with the images, architecture, and soundscore while suspended in the air. The idea of grain as sustenance underscores the wishes of the inhabitants for the sustainability of their community.
Choreography and Direction: Joanna Haigood
Video Artist: Mary Ellen Strom
Composer: Lauren Weinger
Scenic and Rigging Design: Wayne Campbell
Lighting Design: Jack Carpenter
Community Liaison: Sarah Johnson
Paul Benney, Suzanne Gallo, Joanna Haigood, Sheila Lopez, José Navarrete, Shakiri, David Sharps, and Kimm E. Ward
Port Authority Grain Terminal, Red Hook/Brooklyn, New York
Funders / Commissioners
Commissioned by Dancing in the Streets
Picture Red Hook was made possible with generous support from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Arts Partners Program, which is underwritten by the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; James Irvine Foundation; The Surdna Foundation; Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund. Additional support from Brooklyn Borough President; FleetBoston Financial Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Challenge Program; New York State Council on the Arts; and Rockefeller Foundation Multi-Arts Production Fund.
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