Saturday, October 10, 2015

Remembering Blondell Cummings (1944 - 2015)


I’m grateful that I got to know Blondell this past year. Partially from being on the Bessie committee together and hearing her thoughtful questioning and responses to work, and then being invited by her to show my work for Points of Reference at the 92 St. Y on March 27, 2015. I loved her concept to expand how dance is viewed and who talks about dance, by inviting people from different fields – law, journalism, history, religion, public relations – to talk about the work from their perspective.

Flashes of memories from our talks in preparation for Points of Reference:

Blondell loved the diversity of people in New York City. She lived on the Upper East Side and often travelled by bus to see a dance performance. We talked about how buses are a place where different cultures, classes and ethnicities briefly meet and navigate space.  

Her work was rooted in the black experience, yet dealt with universal themes of humanity. As part of Points of Reference we both felt it was important to show a section of the film Commitment to Portraits (1988) that was based on her work Chicken Soup.  She mentioned that several people interpreted Chicken Soup as a reference to domestic work and enslavement, however the inspiration for the work was being in the kitchen with her mother and doing chores. It wasn’t a black thing it was a human thing, that was performed by a black woman. 

She loved to swim, and went swimming practically every morning. It was how she stayed in tune with her body.

She loved traveling and through dance was able to experience the world.

We talked about hair. Blondell was looking for a new way to style her hair, especially with swimming on a regular basis.

Blondell talked about expanding the performance installation 30/30: Meditations on the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, she had worked on with students at the New School and Sarah Lawrence College.

We shared a bowl of beet, ginger, tumeric soup that Blondel had made. It was good and spicy with a strong kick. Like Blondell.

Ana "Rokafella" Garcia, Blondell Cummings, Edisa Weeks
Bessie Committee Meeting
June 2015

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