CuBlack Review by A'Keitha Carey
Dear Audiences Worldwide—To be clear, “Black is the New Black” (Rosamond S. King 2020)! Watching Melissa Cobblah Gutierrez’s CuBlack: Invisiblized No Further! at the Sandrell Rivers Theater on Friday, November 19, 2021 was exhilarating and that’s putting it mildly! I am grateful to have the opportunity to moderate the post-performance discussion and probe and interrogate the themes of antiBlackness, white supremacy, systemic racism and oppression even though this always engenders many emotions for me. Your approach to these themes while engaging with mixed mediums offers a beautiful intelligence to a sullied topic while seamlessly marrying Afro Cuban music and dance with the authentic kinesthetic and oral expressions of your cast members. Your Black Brilliance is evidenced in your artistry but most importantly by the acknowledgment of God and the importance of the ancestors and their impartations in your life.
CuBlack brings to life the stories and traumas that many of us hold in our bodies and psyche while enlightening the audience of the travesty and historical racism experienced by Black Cubans by their white presenting brothers and sisters on the island and in Miami. The stories cut deep and are intersectional as there are connections between the cast that transcends class, race, culture, gender, and geography.
It is important to note the level of mentorship that has been offered and extended to Ms. Gutierrez and many Black and Brown students throughout the country by Michelle Grant-Murray. GrantMurray’s stamp of excellence in professionalism, research and the embodiment of that knowledge are seeping through Gutierrez’s pores. There is something to be said about mentorship and representation and Gutierrez and her cast tackle this without necessarily intending to do so but because of folkx like GrantMurray, they can do and be their honest selves. I look forward and expect more transformative, educational, and empowering work from this Black, Beautiful, and Brilliant woman! ONWARD!! ❤️❤️
Choreographer, Director, Producer: Melissa Cobblah Gutierrez: Dancers: Karl Stephan St. Louis, Gentry George, Erika T. Loyola, Ayanna Vail, Melissa Cobblah Gutierrez Lighting Designer: Apon Nichols
Stage Manager and Rehearsal Director: Shanna Woods Photographer/ Videographer: Woolser Imhotep Delisfort