Video

Jamila Glass 'Expands The View' Of Black Dancers

Jamila Glass‘ debut short 'Love on a Sunday Afternoon' "expands the view" of black dancers.


Love on a Sunday Afternoon is dancer and director Jamila Glass' debut short. The film has the mood of the popular webseries The Couple, except here the beautiful bourgie people occasionally burst into dance. On her Tumblr, The Cutting Room, Glass explains the impetus for the project:

My goal with this film was to expand the view of Black culture and Black dancers.  We are more than just a good booty pop.  We are versatile. We are technical. And we don’t want to be underestimated.

The choreography doesn't plumb the more murky depths of interpersonal relationships (like Katrin Hall's work for Shakira), and while romantic and warm, the couplings are disappointingly heteronormative. However, the film picks up as the dancers segway from a playful soul train into the central sequence which is subtly reminiscent of the only technicolor scene in Spike Lee's classic She's Gotta Have It. Here, Glass puts Janelle Monáe's reworking of Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune to stunning use. The twining and untwining of the dancers' bodies paired with the onlookers' awed faces result in an entrancing sequence, both a celebration of summer love and a formidable display of these dancers' prowess.

The film had its debut in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, and you can watch it below in its entirety.

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Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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