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Buffalo Show – May 9th, 2023
Write-up by Basanti Miller (she/her)
Do creative, healing communities exist only in our dreams, or can they be realized? In early May, inside of the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, an answer revealed itself to me at the Buffalo Show. It was my first time attending. Elders, artists, activists, storytellers, and healers affiliated with Oyate Hotanin (“Voice of the People”) and Change Narrative were sharing stories, catching up, and preparing for their performances as I entered the venue. I was greeted with a warm welcome and made brief introductions.
The show opened with Musical Poetry by the Buffalo Weavers titled “Us, the Trees & Leaves.” As if inside of a dream, the video was a brilliant tapestry of audio and visual elements. Portraits of community members, juxtaposed with images of the trees, their leaves, and bodies of water. Relatives, all connected and existing on Dakota land. Poetic verses, recited by Dakota elder, poet, and storyteller, Strong Buffalo, complimented soothing instrumentals. A rich narrative depicting communities processing pain underneath darkened pandemic skies, healing amidst wildfires, and eventually setting ablaze sparks of social justice.
Was I dreaming or awake? As I listened and observed, the room began to fill with a flurry of emotions. While these emotions were varied, each one was valid. Aspects of our identities were reflected back at us as we watched. I began to feel a comfort and desire to engage deeply with these heightened emotions.
The next performance was a collaboration between Change Narrative’s founder, Jothsna Harris, and artist and author, Brandyn Lee Tulloch. A spoken word poem, written and performed by Brandyn, introduced a critical dialogue about capitalism and climate change. After his performance, Jothsna charged the audience with the task of exploring our own relationship with climate change, social justice, and storytelling. As if slipping in and out of a dream, we took turns listening to and sharing with one another. A gentle back and forth cadence became palpable as we engaged in creative self-expression together.
Third to perform was a Dakota hip-hop artist, Arthur “Kute” Lockwood. In his debut live performance, Kute rapped entirely in Dakota. During his performance, I was reminded that no dream can be deferred if one’s motivation to dream is also fueled by a desire to heal, inspire, and connect with others through art.
When the Buffalo Weavers and Joe Savage took to the stage, I felt as if I were dreaming within a dream. As Ben Weaver began to sing the lyrics to “The Other Side of the Dream,” I was introduced to vivid images of the wind standing at the tip of one’s tongue and the end jumping right back into the beginning’s mouth. As Joe Savages’ fingers danced across his steel guitar and as the palm of Strong Buffalo’s hand rose and fell against a tambourine, I closed my eyes. Inside of those metaphors and similes, I realized I was no longer alone. As the dream was being realized, a creative, healing community presented itself.
July 11, 2023
Bryant – Lake Bowl Theatre
810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN, 55408
Tickets on Eventbrite