An all-black cast of dancers, singers, rappers, breakers, poets and actors takes the stage at Intermedia Arts for Maia Maiden's "Sistah Solo" and "Being Brothas," a two-part evening of performances that run through Saturday.
While Maiden says she didn't originally intend to feature all people of African descent (the event is framed as showcasing artists of color), the show's makeup ends up being a powerful testament to the rich pool of talent in the Twin Cities, in addition to having a strong "Black Lives Matter" theme throughout many of the works.
Maiden has presented "Sistah Solo" twice before, both times at Patrick's Cabaret. She said the impetus was the lack of people of color she sees on stages around the Twin Cities. This year, she's added "Being Brothas" as a way to spotlight male artists of color, as well.
High-profile names include Tish Jones, who delivers a poignant spoken-word piece, and singer PaviElle French, whose infectious zeal brings down the house.
High school and college students add to the mix, notably twin sisters Iman and Khadijah Siferllah-Griffin, who go by the name Al Taw'am (Arabic for "twins").
These 16-year-old hip-hop prodigies have gotten national attention for their fast footwork and politically charged dance-making, and don't disappoint with their piece, "Still Fighting."
The multimedia work incorporates their unique gestural style with projected images of the struggle for racial equality from slavery to today.
Probably the best thing about the show is the incredible hip-hop and break-dancing numbers from the likes of A+ and Nate Kay, but none so wonderful as MaddieFresh, who hilariously strips down from a 1970s bell bottoms and Afro look to show off her incredible moves on the floor.
The wide range of experience and skill levels is part of the appeal of the show, but with about 20 performers, it gets to be a marathon.
Opening night lasted a bit over three hours, so some of the families with kids in attendance didn't stay till the end. Maiden might consider breaking up the show into two nights if, let's hope, she brings it back again.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis writer.