YBCA presents its very own Marc Bamuthi Joseph, with The Living Word Project

The dynamic work, /peh-LO-tah/ — a futbol framed freedom suite…, is both reflective and timely. It culminates the role of soccer in Joseph’s personal journey, and the sport as a precipitator of sociopolitical patterns. /peh-LO-tah/ appreciates soccer as a fixture of camaraderie, pride, and tradition across cultures. And yet, it is not innocent of exploitation. The work charges soccer with political, economic, and social significance. Themes of freedom and citizenship are surfaced through the lense of immigration. What is your place? What makes home, home? Joseph draws on his experiences as a child of Haitian immigrants, chronicles of his travels to World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, and his explosive hip-hop style. He equally appreciates conditions here in his own backyard, as the work is in tune to the pulse of Black Lives Matter, and responds to the movement.

At its core, the performance underlines the often overlooked relationship between sports and art. Dance and music are as universal a language as soccer. The soccer technique-inspired choreography complements the musical narratives performed in English and Portuguese. To the backdrop of South African drums. To the depth of provoking gospel. To charismatic poems. It is, as the award-winning poet-performer says, “a dance about the economy, choreographed to the rhythm of the beautiful game.”

Premiering at YBCA, /peh-LO-tah/ continued on to notable venues including the Kennedy Center.