“We don’t ignore the salt of the story” says Aliyah Miller who plays Salt in the production of Salt City: A Techno Choreopoem. Salt City is a musical about a fierce indigenous black woman with an overwhelming future ahead of her. She was raised in Detroit, the home of salt mines and Techno.
The musical was held at Baldwin Burroughs Theater Fine Arts Building on Spelman College’s campus, free and open to the public from Feb 16-19 beginning at 8pm. The Director Aku Kadogo welcomed all guests and visitors to watch in hopes of learning about black arts in a different limelight.
As soon as the curtains open, the group of actors and dancers chant “Salt, Blood, Sweat, Tears” setting a powerful tone in the theater and evoking a response from the audience with big applause. Keri Garrett who plays Erzulie and Aliyah Miller who plays salt were dancing side-by-side on the stage, both imitating each move the other does, creating a slow paced anticipation for the audience as they both yell, ”Salt is the way of life. Salt preserves life. We are the preservers of life. ”
Jessica Care Moore, the writer of Salt City says, “Salt City was a dream project. Detroit Techno is an important part of my life. I know some of the legends, and I respect and love this community.” This is her third show she’s done at Spelman College. She’s been a poet and artist for 25 years and believes in being a voice for the African-American community. In reference to Salt City she quotes, ”I was trying not to cry backstage.”
The play ends with the actors saying,” We the ones they couldn’t kill.” “We don’t ignore the salt of the story”, says Miller. The reference was used to remind those of the brutal happenings in African history and how society doesn’t want to remember. However, Salt is a character from the future 2071, but still remembers the roots of her ancestors. According to Kadogo, this choreopoem is a time past, the now, and a tectonic shift in time to the future.
Sister Kadogo, explains how she wanted to get back to the authenticity of feelings and art. She remembers the of 1978 where she lived in Australia and worked with indigenous people and how it was such a genuine energy and fondness. She quotes,” I miss that authentic feeling. Everything we learn is mediated nowadays.” The play ensemble the genre of sci-fi Afrofuturistic dance theater work. Kadogo wanted to help bring Moore’s creation to life. Quoting, “How does one respond to a poem? With a poem.”
For the cast this musical was a theatrical journey that kept them guessing. One of the actors says, “We’ve been rehearsing since last September. This was such an original piece. The characters become part of you and the words become part of you.” Salt City: A Techno Choreopoem is an afro-futuristic piece that embodies the past, present and future of African-Americans in today’s world.