A culmination of years of research begun by Joanna Haigood back in the late nineties, Picture Bayview Hunters Point was a very special project. In addition to being the home of the residents whose dreams and aspirations are chronicled in this large scale video and sound score, Bayview Hunters Point has been Zaccho Dance Theatre’s home in San Francisco since 1989, where we maintain a 4,200 square foot facility to create dance performances, provide arts education to local youth and adults, and engage the Bayview community in dialogue and creative collaboration.
Picture Bayview Hunters Point was the third production of Zaccho Dance Theatre’s Picture Trilogy, which also includes Picture Red Hook (2002) and Picture Powderhorn (2000), and celebrates the aspirations of inner-city communities in transition.
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.
As Choreographer and Director of Picture Bayview Hunters Point, Joanna Haigood led a year-long process of community programs and events where 300 community members participated in sharing their dreams for the future of their beloved home. Community members’ stories were included in the audio score and video, and five members of the community were featured in the live performances. Performances were free and well attended by the local community, who offered a tremendous outpouring of positive feedback. This project offered a platform for an authentic and empowered voice for our often marginalized community. It brought us closer to our neighbors and created new opportunities for future collaborations.
Picture Bayview Hunters Point was a multi-disciplinary, site specific performance that opened with a serene projected video of a moving body of water, evoking a time when Bayview Hunters Point was inhabited solely by Indigenous Americans. Next we saw images depicting a slow building and population of the area by white farmers. The mood abruptly shifts when we experience through live dance the energy and optimism of African Americans arriving primarily from Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas to work in the shipyards during World War II. Ultimately the piece evolved into a pastiche portrait of the current Bayview community consisting of visual imagery, musical performances, as well as live dance and choreographed movement performed by Zaccho’s professional and youth performers. The performances were staged at various locations both inside and outside of the historic Bayview Opera House. Built in 1888, it is San Francisco’s oldest theater and Opera House.
Choreography and Direction: Joanna Haigood
Video Artist: Mary Ellen Strom
Composer: Walter Kitundu
Media Arts Design: BAYCAT
Scenic Design: Wayne Campbell
Lighting Design: Jack Carpenter
Project Manager: Tyra Fennell
Community Liaison: Halima Marshall
Dancers: josé e abad, Alex Allan, Lydia Clinton, Delvin Friñon, Antoine Hunter, Azraa Muhammad, Jarrel Phillips, Adonis Damian Martin Quiñones, Aliyah Dunn-Salahuddin, Sonya Smith, Helen Wicks
Musician: Martin Luther McCoy
Bayview Opera House, San Francisco, CA
Picture Bayview Hunters Point was made possible with generous support from Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Grants for the Arts, San Francisco Foundation, California Arts Council, Surdna Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the MAP Fund, Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, California Humanities (a non-partisan partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities), The W Fund, and Zaccho's generous individual donors
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