Ocean Ana Rising's production of GYPSY & THE BULLY DOOR (July 2011)

Happy New Year! Ocean Ana Rising has been up to lots of good work all throughout 2011, and we are enthusiastic about continuing our mission into 2012 and beyond. We are approaching our 7th year of doing this work! We can’t believe how fast time flies, when committed to such an important mission! We want to share all that has been going on with us and all that is approaching. We have truly grown, expanding our community and work through ground breaking collaborations and a continued evolution of our programs.

20ll started out with our Safe Spaces Arts Outreach program joining DC Rape Crisis Center for a Day of Healing in January, featuring our Safe Spaces: The Soul’s Mask Workshop. OAR teaching artists, Sofale Ellis and Alexis Flanagan, led this workshop, during which women from DC Rape Crisis Center created beautiful masks, adorning them with paint, beads, and feathers, as personal expressions of discovery and healing.

In February of 2011, Ocean Ana Rising co produced and co curated our Women on Wednesdays Art and Culture Project with Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative and the Brecht Forum at the Brecht Forum in NYC for the second time! This series began in 2010 and has continued forward. During the series, women and girls of color were featured performers, as they shared their creative expressions through dance, poetry, music, theater arts and video. Some of our featured artists were vocalist Ayanna Williams; poets Cheyenne Sabrina and Carmen Mojica; The Body Ecology Performance Collective; Zoe Flowers and her theater ensemble; dancer J. Jewels Sandy; and youth performances from The Black Light Performance Ensemble, El Puente, and Medgar Evers College students. The series also grew to include two community arts residencies, through which professional artists who performed in the series led performance arts workshops with youth groups through Medgar Evers College Center for Women’s Development and El Puente-Bushwick. It was amazing to watch these young artists affirm their voices and realize empowerment through artistic expression. The 2011 series also expanded to include a Teach In and Healing Cipher, where cultural organizers and arts activists provided workshops dedicated to holistic wellness to the public. We opened with a yoga class led by Dehejia Maat, and opened out into workshops facilitated by Hip Hop Ambassador, Toni Blackman; a writing workshop led by Carmen Mojica, and a life planning workshop by Burn Bright Life Works. This Teach In and Healing Cipher also featured Ocean Ana Rising’s Safe Spaces: From Trauma to Triumph workshop. Though the series began in February, it extended into May, closing with a community arts residency with Medgar Evers College LIFE Club. What a series! We thank every artist, cultural organizer and collaborator who helped to make it all possible.

In June, Ocean Ana Rising began rehearsals for our workshop production of GYPSY & THE BULLY DOOR, a play emerging out of OAR’s Live On Stage program. Through this program, we hired Howard University Theater Arts students and alum for a laboratory production at the Warehouse Theatre during DC’s Fringe Festival. The show ran for five days in July and helped to expose emerging theater artists to the world of professional theatre, under the directorial guidance of Eric Ruffin.

Clearly, 2011 was a productive and exciting year for Ocean Ana Rising! And we’re taking that energy into the new year! Already, 2012 is off to a beautiful start. We’re bringing the Women on Wednesdays Art and Culture Project back to the Brecht Forum with our collaborating partners, Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative and the Brecht Forum, while expanding the team to include a new collaborator, GroundFloor, a visual arts program and exhibition featuring the visual art of women of color throughout the Brecht Forum while the Women on Wednesdays series goes on there. This year’s series includes the featured performances of women and girls of color in poetry, dance, film, theater arts and music, as is our tradition through this project. We have also added a Global Women’s Empowerment Forum discussion, which will engage our community in conversations about various issues affecting the lives and well being of women of color all around the world. We will also continue our Teach In and Healing Cipher through the series. Furthermore, Safe Spaces will be returning!

We thank you for your support! And we look forward to sharing our programs with you in the future!

Love and Light,
Ocean Ana Rising, Inc.