Kierah “KIKI” King / Black Woman Why (Chicago)
Black Woman Why (2020) and ACT 2 SCENE 2 (2021) by artist Kiki King
ACT 2 SCENE 2 is a silent, physical portrayal of Act II Scene II from Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. George, a suitor, wants to kiss Beneatha, a pre-med student—but she does not want to kiss him back. Beneatha wants to engage in a political conversation about the 1950s predicament of Black Americans. In this moment George desires his imagination of a nice and sophisticated girl. Beneatha portrays the determination, and tension, of a woman who strives for something higher than what might be expected of her—something beyond pleasing a male counterpart. Beneatha challenges what her society and community uphold as womanly and right. George (and her brother Walter as well) aligns mainstream beliefs and aspirations that males hold dominant roles within the home as well as in society’s basic institutions.
Using the scene and text as inspiration for movement, this original composition finds ways to embody and physicalize ideas of a Black Woman’s place, dreams, and dominance and autonomy.
Beneatha is determined to not be placed into a category, and for the culture of the time to not force her into roles that fall short of her own aspirations and vision. Also, Beneatha’s outlook on life as a young Black American calls attention to the gap between The American Dream, and The Black American Reality. These concepts are highlighted through the physicality of two movers in this film.
In Black Woman Why (2020), this piece started out as a self reflection and discovery,
of myself as an individual In America who identifies as a Black Biracial Femme and what that means for me, for others, for my ancestors, and for those to come after me. I kept thinking of where the term “ghetto fabulous” came from and also the need to “look over my shoulder.” My father always taught me to “check my six” and defend myself. I also wanted this group of six dancers to represent Black women’s beauty.
BIO: Kierah KIKI King is a dancer whose passion for justice, activism, and community-building merges through powerful choreographic work. She is based in Chicago as an independent movement artist and organizer with a commitment to connecting, and advancing, the dance community and field.
King has presented her original choreographic works at the Centre National De La Danse in Pantin, France (2019); and premiered her work HA(B*tch)ually on the Columbia Dance Center stage (2019) as well as a second performance again in Michigan for the American College Dance Association. Kiki has been an invited soloist at the Beyond The Bars Conference, Columbia University in New York (2020). Her latest projects include two artist residencies for the 2020/21 year: a Columbia College virtual residency for public programs, as well as a Co-Mission residency at Links Hall to premier her new work Viewership Intended for Rec*creational Use Only (2021).
King graduated from Columbia College Chicago (May 2020), receiving a BFA in Dance with a Minor in Black World Studies. Previously, she was homeschooled in Hartford, Connecticut where she learned the power of service, education, and creativity as central to life. She completed high school at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.
(Kiki King photo, by Mayleen Mermea)