Breaking Ground 109 Arts - Steal Away: Soul Connection Through Dance and Musicby Shabaz Ujima
I am a native Nashvillian as well as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and activist. I founded Shackled Feet DANCE! as a means to share the stories of those who are voiceless and to give space for people to reconnect with the power of dance, movement, and creativity.
I was approached by Dave Ragland, a local composer, about providing the element of movement to his opera, Steal Away. I knew that I wanted to create a world on stage that reflected our whole community. While speaking with one of the elder dancers in the cast, she mentioned that we didn’t have the perspective of those with disabilities. I immediately reached out Sarah Edwards of Friend’s Life (note below) to see how we could collaborate! With great enthusiasm, Sarah and the Friend’s Life team reached out to their brilliant artists and we assembled a dynamic cast.
Everyone from the entire cast was blown away and inspired by their passion and generosity. We were all one on stage, despite differences in our age, color, and physical and mental abilities.
Our synergy together created an experience that was heartfelt and that touched the deepest parts of the soul. It was what we ALL needed during these times of division.
In the words of the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey, I learned that “Dance is for the people and should be given back to the people.” Dance and art connect us all through spirit and that connection goes beyond what divides us.
To view the full production, visit: ozartsnashville.org/steal-away/
Note: Friend’s Life Community is a Nashville center that offers opportunities for teenagers and adults with disabilities to develop socially, grow personally, and enjoy community as they experience life together. Programs include Service Learning, Life Skills, and Advocacy through the Arts.