Today, April 4, marks the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. It's a date heavy with meaning and symbolism for Kevin Thomas and Marcellus Harper, the founding directors of Memphis-based Collage Dance Collective. King's death not only marked a turning point in the civil rights movement, but it inspired Arthur Mitchell to found Dance Theatre of Harlem, a company and school devoted to providing opportunities to dancers of color. Harper and Thomas, a former DTH principal, have helped carry on Mitchell's mission through Collage Dance Collective, a company that showcases black dancers and choreographers.
To pay homage to Dr. King, Collage released Rebirth, a short film produced by Pigeon Roost in advance of the company's spring season. Shot at the historic Clayborn Temple, where King led one of his final marches against economic injustice, it features the dancers moving to a mix of music, poetry and Dr. King's famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech. Made the day before his assassination, his words are eerily prophetic: "And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land."
Collage, on its Instagram page, had this to say about Rebirth: "We present this piece to represent the power of the arts to turn poison into medicine." Watch below, and be inspired.