A monumental site-specific performance originally created in 1998 inspired by the history of the Underground Railroad featuring traditional and contemporary choreography, music, storytelling and aerial dance. First performed at Fort Point in San Francisco, it subsequently had two tours at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival (1998, 2007), and in abridged form in the Saint Remy, France.
Zaccho Dance Theatre's 2007 production of "Invisible Wings," commissioned by and performed at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, was conceived and directed by Joanna Haigood in collaboration with Kim Euell, Diane Ferlatte, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Alexander Nichols, Jack Carpenter, Wayne Campbell, Robert Henry Johnson, Amara Tabor Smith, Shakiri, Sheila Lopez, Paul Benney, Ashley Taylor, Robert Ernst, Shereel Washington, Ramon Ramos Alayo, Raissa Simpson.
What follows is an excerpt of Joanna Haigood's artist statement regarding the project:
"My motivation and inspirations for this project lie in our social need to recognize and celebrate our histories - to illuminate and enrich our present with our past. In this particular situation, I feel there is a great opportunity to unite 200 years of characters, stories, and place through performance, and at the same time reveal and preserve an important part of our national heritage...
Slavery has delivered a deep wound to the heart of our society. It is my hope that this project will encourage us all to look at our history and connect it to the current social and political trends as they relate to race, class and international relations. Recognizing that the evil of slavery is neither unique to this country nor ended in the world today, it is important to begin dialogue and move towards strategies for healing.
The spirit of the Underground Railroad was driven by compassion, respect, and cooperation between many kinds of people. With the performance of Invisible Wings we celebrate its success with songs, dances and stories of the time. We dedicate this work to all our ancestors."
Commissioned by Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival with support from The Rockefeller MAP Fund, the National Foundation for the Arts and the Zellerbach Family Fund