We have been taking the kids to see Kulu Mele since they were babies and it has certainly always been in the back of my head that Claudia could join the youth troop, Omo Kulu Mele, someday. This photo was taken at the Please Touch Museum in 2010. Claude was two. She got up on the stage to dance and when I went to get her, company founder Mama Dottie had said to me “Let her go.”
I had asked what age she needed to be to join Omo Kulu Mele and it was a ways away, and to be honest, when Claude was old enough it seemed very daunting. She was already involved in so many performance activities. But this was the year she did it.
I know I’ve written about it already on this blog, with some video of rehearsal. I did not get any great video of this performance, probably because I was just too emotional to do so. But we did have the photo with us, to show people in the company. And it was Tucker who noticed the woman in the far left of the photo — and the tattoo on her cheekbone. She is Claudia’s teacher.
That photo is literally a photo of the future.
And this weekend was Claudia’s present — finding a place in her identity as an African-American girl, something she has openly, and passionately, looked for for some time. She has found it. She has told me that if she had to give up every other performance class she does (which I would hope she would not!) and keep only one, it would be Omo Kulu Mele. It is definitely the one that works for her like therapy and feeds her soul.
Our “school” year is winding down — literally, just winding down — we don’t have a “last day of school” date, but two more steps of work on a project to consider the year complete. Our evaluations are complete and we are writing up next year’s objectives, together.
But this recital was, for Claudia, a culmination. I know she is sad that there is a summer break for Omo Kulu Mele (but it’s nice to have the break from hiking to Germantown weekly). We are so glad we have found this. (And having the long extensions for Dance Recital Season was a good idea!)