“Street Talk Suite Talk” Rap Opera at Beaver

Alonso Richardson '14 & Nina Saraceno '99

Accompanying the dancers on the Bradley Hall stage was violinist Mark Berger. With an original score by Jakov Jakoulov, Street Talk, Suite Talk marries classical movement and music with the slam poetry and rap to envision a society of racial harmony and an end to urban gang violence.

Street Talk Suite Talk will be performed in its entirety for the general public on Friday, March 11, at 8:00 p.m., at the Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall (184 Dudley Street, Roxbury, MA. 02119). General admission $15, seniors and college students $10, high school students and younger $5. Group rates available. Contact Dillon Bustin, Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall, dbustin@madison-park.org or 617-849-6322. There are also performances of Act I on February 8 (10:00 a.m. ICA) and of Act II on March 9 (9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. at Hibernian Hall).

Excerpts from Street Talk Suite Talk Project Summary by Anna Meyer:
Street Talk Suite Talk is a rap opera that integrates young inner city poets with modern dancers and live classical violin to tell the story of a post-Brown vs. The Board of Education world where people are still separate and unequal but can find their way to harmony, integration, and wholeness.

Anna Myer and Dancers created this work to give voice to young people living in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence. Nine young rappers from Dorchester, Roxbury, and Lowell wrote from their own experiences living in the inner city. They don’t write about history but about what is happening now, and what it means for all of us. Their concerns gain strength by “showing” rather than telling in this multimedia work.

Because Boston remains divided, these poets’ voices speak to their own communities while enlightening the traditional audiences for modern dance. The Street Talk Suite Talk premiere sponsored by Mayor Menino’s office in November 2008 at the Strand brought together a diverse audience of Myer’s long time supporters, the dance community, and local Dorchester residents for three critically acclaimed performances. The event for six hundred public school students was an unqualified success. The rap opera integrated separate worlds that, for a few hours, shared a common vision of life expressed through the power of art. Street Talk Suite Talk makes clear that art can cut across race, class and social boundaries. This work forges bonds between disparate populations on both sides of the proscenium. As Thea Singer of The Boston Globe stated in her rave review: “‘Don’t you see?’ the eclectic group seem to be saying. . . ‘such violence steals all of our lives.’” Street Talk Suite Talk has the power to open eyes, hearts, and minds.

Street Talk Suite Talk is not ordinary hip-hop. The live violin music is by Russian composer Jakov Jakoulov. The dance is by Anna Myer, one of Boston’s best-known choreographers, whose talent for bringing together separate artistic traditions creates a new hybrid art form that speaks powerfully to all who see it. Myer did not write about inner city life. She gave young street poets a stage to reach a broad audience and the mentoring to become artists at a new level of power and expertise.

By bringing together street rappers and seasoned professional dancers and musicians, Myer integrated two separate worlds of artists to create a unique piece that aims to foster social change through art. Myer and her artists are currently creating Act II of Street Talk Suite Talk, which brings the post-Brown vision home to today’s still-troubled streets. The poets/rappers are writing about what it means to “be gold” – to develop the inner strength and personal growth to rise above the circumstances of life in the inner city. The complete rap opera closes the loop by telling the story of separation and integration as a personal as well as a social struggle to find ways to reach out and connect with a widening ring of communities. The fully expanded rap opera premiered at St. Paul’s Church in May 2010. This downtown Boston church is committed to social justice and change.

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