New Project Invites Black Women to a Ritual of Sleep and Dreaming


It is clear that dancer/choreographer Amara Tabor Smith believes that Black women work too hard. She’s not talking about going to a job or the emotional labor of caring for children and families.

No. She’s talking about the constancy of fear that is the psychic burden of racism.

In “Black Women Dreaming,” Smith and co-director Ellen Sebastian Chang invited Black women of all ages to come lay that burden down.

The ritual of Black women sleeping, resting, and dreaming over seven consecutive days and nights in a secret location in Oakland began on March 26.

It culminates with “The Oracle Speaks: Dreams from the Dreamers,” with a performance of the women’s dreams and readings from the “Black Girls Dreaming” camp.

The 13-day event is part of Deep Waters Dance Theater’s two-year, multi-site, episodic performance project titled, “House/Full of Black women,” which addresses the displacement, well-being, and sex trafficking of Black women and girls in Oakland.

This week-long experience was set at an undisclosed West Oakland boarding house where Black women were invited to engage in a period of ritual rest, sleeping, and dreaming.

They could sign up for a two-hour nap or up to 10 consecutive/overnight hours during this week.

Robyn Woidtke, a registered sleep technologist, was also on hand.

Smith partnered with Chapter 510 & The Department of Make Believe and Regina’s Door as sites for free public events. One art installation was an altar to Harriet Tubman, who famously relied on the messages she received from visions she had during narcoleptic episodes while leading enslaved people to freedom.

Black girls ages 8-12 get a chance to participate in this dreaming project from April 3- 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with a spring break writing camp where they will meditate, do yoga and write down their dreams.

Those writings will be published and shared at the closing event. There were opportunities for the resting women to quilt, sip tea and get a foot massage, but the key “activity” was rest.

A ritual performance of the dreams of the rested will feature Tabor’s group, House/Full of Blackwomen on Friday April 7.

The Black Girls Dreaming camp will be held at Chapter 510 & The Department of Make Believe: 2301 Telegraph Ave. Call (510) 469-0108 to sign up.



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