Director’s Statement

Dancing Like Home probably started when I was a kid. As far as I can remember I’ve been a dancing girl.   Wherever we lived, my mission was to learn and know the names of all the latest dances.  After I moved to Los Angeles, a good friend dragged me to a West African dance class.  From the start I was pretty much hooked especially the rhythms and movement from Casamance, Senegal.  Just like when I was a kid – my mission to learn and know the names of as many West African dance ceremonies as I could.

In reality, Dancing Like Home the project began 2002 on the corner of LaBrea and Wilshire after a class.  Malang Bayo my dance teacher walked towards me and before I could say it, he said let’s go to Casamance.  Without hesitation I replied, let’s do it.  Weeks later, I called John Njaga Demps the DP, who I briefly met while walking down a dirt path in Gambia during my first trip to Africa in 1996, John in turned suggested I call Leslie Saltus Evans, the producer.  It was a match made in heaven! The next thing I know the four of us are on planes to Senegal for a location scout.

The people we met were magical.  It’s as if I had taken a trip down south in Alabama, where my people are from.  But this is the original Home. Throughout the years of working on this film I knew I couldn’t give up. The people were so embedded in my thoughts and heart I had to keep going.   Not only did I think I had a story to tell, their spirit reminded me they too had a story to tell. Whatever our preconceptions are, the whole continent of Africa is not filled with poverty, AIDS, war and hopelessness. There is a visceral quality of life I felt that we don’t often see enough in the images of the continent. 

This film is not about me finding myself or finding descendants.  This is a film about a profound passion for the dance; a connection to the culture and people of a specific region; a curiosity for where and how traditions begin and continue, and finding truth in discovery.   This fact finding venture was supposed to be just that, a fact finding venture. In my mind’s eye, the overall plans included the location scout, then within the next year or so raise a nice sum of money, go back to the Casamance and shoot a few dance ceremonies. But as documentaries go, plans don’t always turn out as you envision them to be.  After years of frustration, it took lots of classes, documentary screenings and great advice for me to figure out I had a truthful compelling story to tell with the footage I had.  Dancing Like Home provides a treatment of a unique aspect of the contemporary African Diaspora experience. I feel honored to share the experience with my first directorial effort.