‘Smells Like Freedom’ aims to liberate Black women

Photo Credit: Leni Manna-Hoppenworth

March is Women’s History Month and appropriately, Enneressa Davis has choreographed a stunning new production titled, “Smells Like Freedom.” Davis is the CEO and founder of Praize Productions Inc. An accomplished writer and producer, this theatrical assembly combines dance, spoken word, music, and visual arts, to tell stories of liberation, connecting the past and present, while moving into a more purposeful future.

Why is “Smells Like Freedom” essential in today’s society?
We all have our own struggles; things that are holding us “captive.” It is only through true liberation in the mind, body, and soul that we can really feel what it is to truly live life. Today’s society is so distracted by technology, social media, the grind and hustle of work that we don’t make the time to see life in its fullness. That time with friends and family should be as important as work. That doing things that feed our soul is where the true wealth is. … Once we as a community, a people, and world allow ourselves to live and operate in spaces of freedom, we will begin to unite and work together.

Why is it important for women and Black women to be involved in the overall movement of freedom in today’s society?
It is important because as double minorities, we experience a lack of freedom on a daily basis. Because Black men, our men are stripped of their freedom with today’s judicial system, and our babies are shot and killed for playing their music too loud or walking home from school with ice tea and a bag of Skittles. It isn’t just important for Black women to be in the movement of freedom, it is essential! Those who endure the struggle must be the leaders of the revolution.

Does the show touch on women’s freedom?
Early on, I began to understand freedom is very much so a journey, a process. One act in particular, “Dead Sons,” is performed to Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit.” Many times we see this traditionally performed by men. However, I wanted to approach it from the Black woman’s voice. In the piece, the quartet of women represent the mothers of the Black boys and men [who] have been slain by police brutality and other social injustices. At the end of the act, I used a voice-over from Trayvon Martin’s mother. I thought this was important because it gave voice to the mothers, wives, sisters who have lost their loved ones in the most brutal ways. Another piece titled, “The Fight Within,” which is performed to Fela Kuti, details the internal struggles that we go through as women: depression, insecurities, stress, anxiety and how we must tap into that internal fight.

Praize Productions Inc. presents “Smells Like Freedom” on March 23, 2019, at 7 p.m. at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts located at 915 E 60th St.

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