The organizers of the Chicago Humanities Festival are of good heart and mind when they book acts like Paige in Full , but they might have spent a bit more time researching the best venue for the piece and perhaps a rolling schedule.
We are, after all, in a city suffering an epidemic of drive-by shootings and child victims for years with neighborhoods long-suffering from entrenched gang violence. What better conversation starter about alternatives than the life story of one young girl’s coming of age in such a neighborhood and how she broke free?
That was the comment of one mother in the audience at the MCA who had brought her teen daughter and two of her friends. That mother worked with girls in prisons who had made mistakes and she saw immediately that this high energy hip-hop “not-so-fairy-tale” would speak to many.
But was the MCA the right place to stage this?
This was, in fact, a sparsely attended event even during the prime time Saturday early evening time slot. Thankfully the program indicates that Paige Hernandez “has taught throughout the country to all ages and disciplines. To date she has reached over 10,000 students, from pre-K through college, in over 100 residencies, workshops, and performances.”
This high energy hip-hop story telling takes a cue from “In Living Color Fly Girls”. Hernandez, who makes a big point of her tri-racial status in this autobiographical dance expression, says she was especially drawn to the multi-racial Fly Girls as inspiration.
Her performance is not only energetic but imaginative in movement and language. It speaks to teen girls and especially those who are growing up in ghettos where gangbang boys might look cool. It gives a message loud and clear to love yourself and respect yourself. It’s a good message and delivered with style. Next time it is performed in Chicago I hope that it will be staged in a venue where those who can best relate to it and benefit from it are frequenters of the hall.
Photos: C. Stanley Photography