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HairStory: Reclaiming Our Crown,
a choreopoem

HairStory follows the journey of a young ambitious Black woman, Aleyah, who is working all the angles to make a name for herself as a hard-hitting journalist. Imagine her surprise when her editor assigns her a “fluff” story about Black-owned beauty salons. Her journey takes her back to ancient stories and rituals woven into African people. Aleyah encounters many deep-rooted stories of how Black and Brown people have been ostracized and objectified for their hair. She is pulled into memories of sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and aunties who lovingly and sternly braided traditions, demands, and power into each other’s hair. Will Aleyah see herself in these stories or will she refuse to look in the mirror?

 

What is a choreopoem? This is a play written in poetic form. All the words spoken by the actors are the poems created by poet, Maria James-Thiaw. And as the word “choreo” suggests, many times the poems are brought to life with many voices. The individual poems were inspired either by Maria’s research, her lived experiences, or her interviews conducted with local Griots.

 

What is a Griot? This is the West African term for "storyteller." Maria interviewed Black and Brown women and men of all ages about their personal hair stories.

Artwork by Nadine Johnson

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