In ITAGUA MEJI, GirlChildWoman battles against the divinity of her own head, Ori, eventually learning a simple lesson: just listen and dance through it all. ITAGUA MEJI is a choreo poem and black woman’s manifesta that travels from the side walk cheers and dance halls of our youth to the long journeys home conjured by a healing rooted in a celebration of ancient cleansing rituals, despite the silence threatened by capitalism and war. It troubles the problematic tradition of “passing,” asking us to see beyond the meaning of passing as it applies to racial identity, and challenging us to accept and celebrate every aspect of our fractured cultural identities in America to create wholeness and well-being through spiritual discovery and a re-membered self. In ITAGUA MEJI, recipes for spiritual baths using plants and true stories gleaned from the writer’s own ancestral history are shared with the audience as the performers demand that we choose not to “pass” on those crucial survival tools that belong to us all.
*The title of the choreo poem, ITAGUA MEJI is based on a sign in the Yoruba divination system of Obi, during which four coconut shells are thrown and consulted by a priest for an individual present for a spiritual reading. When the four shells fall in the pattern of three white sides up and one side down, the diviner must throw a second time, invoking a sacred prayer. If upon the second throw, the shells fall in the same pattern, it is called the sign of Itagua Meji. The loose translation of this letter is an affirmative response to a question. However, it is a “yes” that comes with a difficult journey. There will be rough twists and turns that can lead to both the realization of one’s goals and many hard-won lessons. It is a road of intense discovery with high stakes.