I encourage everyone to see this Cincy Fringe performance. Especially the African American community. This is a message we need to hear. Also, this group does not perform the same routine every time. The more times you see it, the more messages you will receive.
“Lost Generation” is led by Siri Imani. I have watched this poet perform with her group Blvck Seeds. Her voice is soft and strong. Her cadence is conversation. It’s not that she is talking at you, she is talking with you, even though she knows you are not going to respond. She laughs. She smiles. She frowns. Her eyes convey her emotions right into yours. Her passion becomes your passion. Honestly, after listening to her, you do not feel the same.
The performance was a mix of spoken word, interpretive dance, soulful singing and a little bit of rapping. Some pieces were accompanied by the MyCincinnati Youth Orchestra, with violins, violas, cellos and a bass. They did wonderful.
The whole act takes place in the basement of a church. Seating is perfect. It’s close and personal. Sometimes the sounds from the orchestra overpowers the voices of the poets, but they play off each other with signals and know how to reel it back. It’s a great relationship they have.
Once they begin, a statement on a screen reveals that Millennials have the highest depression rates. I work with kids on a professional and personal level, and this is something that I can believe. Siri Imani speaks about social anxiety and how healing and growth are needed. She paints a picture of a girl, glassy eyes, no smile, in public but shy. She is trying to get out of her comfort zone, trying to embrace others, but it’s hard. She may look standoffish, and people are ignoring her, but she is struggling to be with the crowd. To be what is considered “in.” How does Siri know this? Well she is staring at that girl in the mirror. It’s her. This moment is something I am sure everyone can relate to. I can say that girl has been me before.
Another spoken word artist comes up and speaks about the information being fed to Millennials from the school system. You feel his frustration as his voice accelerates and his words run together. He speaks of the diluted information being taught. Kids are caught between supposed leaders and skeptics. People survive by living in their own delusions. Every time this poet takes a pause, you can tell it is not because he is out of breath. It’s like he is looking for an answer. An answer he should have received from a teacher, a leader — someone.
More performances come forth, including singing, rapping and some references to Erykah Badu. All voices are booming and beautiful. Your ears and eyes are at attention and focused. Your mind is following the various melodies.
The dance portion consisted of two gentlemen and told a story of confinement. One gentlemen starting off in a straight jacket. The man danced in a serious a strong, but slow motions. Almost like krumping. He kept the man down close to the ground so he could not get out of the straight jacket. Finally, he breaks free and gets the jacket off and beging a series of breakdance power moves. It reminded me that in any place in your life, school, work, friends, family don’t let anyone keep you confined to the person they think you are or who you want to be. Break free and be yourself.
The consistent theme throughout this performance is that Millennials resist social constructs. They cannot be controlled. They may be a lost generation, but they are not hopeless. They are doing their best to escape their fears, depression and environment, through the art of song, words and dance.
Marissa Staples is a Cincinnati published author and writer for The Voice of Black Cincinnati. She developed her love of arts from her mother, Kandi. Being a native of Cincinnati, she loves to travel. If she is not traveling, you can find her reading, writing, volunteering or drinking wine. Wine always brings smiles, friends and creative dialogue.