How can Providence reckon with its tangible legacy of monuments and places inextricably linked to oppression? Haus of Glitter Dance Company provides at least one answer.
Anthony “AM.” Andrade Jr., Assitan Coulibaly, Steven Choummalaithong, Matt Garza, and Trent “TrashGoaT” Lee transformed the Esek Hopkins Homestead, historic home of the Continental Navy Commander turned slave ship captain, into the Haus of Glitter Performance Lab + Parq. With a two-year Parkist residency from the Parks Department and Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, this queer, feminist, Black Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) collective has been living and working at the 1756 homestead, staging performances and community classes, and tending the Liberation Garden. (This is no metaphor; it’s an actual garden.) A monument to an oppressor is now an artistic act of rebellion against his legacy and a community for those who have been oppressed.
“Esek Hopkins’ untold story is relevant to New England as a whole, but our legacy in West African and Latinx dance feels especially important to represent the creative contributions of BIPOC and the histories of systemic oppression,” the creators say. “Now, the people of New England need to hear this story through our lips. We are tracing this lineage of dance and how the bodies who have carried this dance have traveled, often not by choice.”
Much more than dance happens at Haus of Glitter. Last year, they taught more than 200 free and donations-based yoga, meditation, and dance classes, in-person and virtually; co-hosted the first socially distant (and all BIPOC-organized) incarnation of PRONK festival; and co-produced a virtual dance concert with seniors from Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts (which appeared on this list last year).
This year they’re planning to be equally active and multi-disciplinary, culminating with The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins, a site-specific live performance, film, and album that rethinks the Haus’ original resident. Over time, they aim to provide their own residencies for young artists and train others to become teachers and community organizers.
By reimagining this historic space, The Haus of Glitter is leading a new conversation about our shared history.
“The content of our work represents the stories, truths, colors, shapes, and vibrations that live in our bones,” they say. “Our practice proposes a reality where colonization never happened and the slave revolts were successful. Our process attempts to strip away the symptoms of trauma that plague us, and embody the process of being together – of manifesting – that our ancestors were fighting for.”
Their Reason for Optimism: “We are overwhelmed with gratitude for those who came before us who made this work possible, and for the community who continues to show up to experience art with us, to breathe with us, to dance with us, to fight with us, to feel with us, to heal with, and to take care of each other. We are excited for the connections in our communities being made and for the magic that awaits.”