My first introduction to Collide Theatrical was Wonderland performed at the James J Hill House earlier this summer. It was enthralling. Yet, it did not prepare me for how much I’d love their new video Teach Me.
I am a product of the 1970s. I know how a Bill Becomes a Law, how to Unpack My Adjectives and The Preamble thanks to School House Rock. So it is with the highest praise that I compare Teach Me to these favorite memories of my childhood cartoon Public Service Announcements. Music, dance and video are such engaging ways to tell a story, impart information and build passion. To be clear, these dancers move like they might be animated – but they are very real and so impressive!
The video starts out with dancers standing like museum statutes in the cavernous walkway under the Schmidt Lofts. The action travels to Kasano Mwanza in full voice singing about the roots of Jazz and the Black influence on American Jazz Dance. The music is upbeat – and of course jazzy. While Mwanza tells the story, the dancer demonstrate dance of ragtime, swinging, jitterbugs and bunny hugs. It’s a story of a musical movement and the story of the people, such as Pepsi Bethel, Honi Coles, and Cholly Atkins, whose influence (the origin!) was lost because they were black.
The song, dance and video urge, in the friendliest way possible, for people to “love the people as much as the culture” and appreciate the “roots as well as the foliage.” It urged me to look up some of the artists they mention and to find out Collide Theatrical offers a wide range of classes. I might even check some of them out!
Details: Written and Directed by Rush Benson. Choreography by Chelsea Rose. Vocals by Kasano Mwanza, Videography by Wells Film and Photo, with dancers Chelsea Rose, Rush Benson, Emily Madigan, Anton LaMon, Brian Bose, Patrick Jeffrey, Gabrielle Abram and Darius Strong.