In workshops over the next three months, SixTwelve, a communal, creative space in the Paseo Arts District, will host Haitian-American dance educator and performer Marie Casimir. She will lead participants through an exploration of the Lakou, a Haitian communal system of work and creativity.
Casimir teaches African dance as part of the African and African-American Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma. She said her focus is on dance as it relates to the African diaspora, the spread of African peoples around the world through slavery, colonization and emigration. For the workshops, she will focus on the Haitian Lakou system.
“Lakou comes from a French word that literally means ‘courtyard,’” Casimir says. “The idea is both a real system and a metaphor in Haiti, where the Lakou is mostly practiced in rural areas. The idea is that you are going to need help along the way; you can’t do life alone.”
That system is a communal meeting place and set of practices around work and doing life together. It’s cooperative and organic, inasmuch as people attempt to help each other with tasks related to work, family, creativity, etc. Casimir is incorporating the principles into the workshops, which will feature breathing techniques, dance, writing and storytelling.
As to who is invited, Casimir cites an old Zimbabwean proverb: “If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing.”
“We’ll work together in a group to create collective sound and movement,” she says. “We will score the piece with our breath, use our feet to create rhythm, and when people get comfortable, we will add music.”
The workshops begin tomorrow, Feb. 24, at SixTwelve, 612 NW 29th in OKC. Casimir said all talent levels are welcome, and the workshops are free, although a $10-$20 contribution is requested of those who can pay. The other two workshops will be March 24 and April 28. All three begin at 2 p.m. and run approximately 90 minutes. So if you’re interested … come together.
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