When I boarded the plane for the 15-hour flight to Sydney, I did not have an itinerary with our rehearsal and performance schedule over the six days I'd be working there. But somehow, I knew that I would connect with the First Nation. I would find time, by hook, crook or sleeplessness.
You see, the last time I was in Australia, I had just read Marlo Morgan's cultural immersion testimony, Mutant Message Down Under. This only encouraged to me to refresh my research on everything I thought I needed to know about the aboriginal community there. And when I got there, I bought lots of aboriginal art from the artists with corresponding perspective and DNA. This way, my house could receive these vibes every day, and my walls would remind me daily how simply and wholly and positively life can be lived.
So I had to connect. And the universe (or perhaps a kind mimi spirit) responded. In January of this year, a small, but powerful contingent of First Nation dancers came to the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference (IABD) 30th Anniversary conference and festival, bearing a wonderful energy of exchange, presence and warmth. And my downstairs neighbor reminded me that she was a dance presenter over in Sydney and that she could connect me with local concert dance forces there.
One of them invited me to do a full interview at Koori Radio, Sydney's First Nations radio station. I couldn't have been more thrilled. I hopped on the train, to Redfern, had a beautiful latte in a small cafe near the station, and then sat with Gavin, the show host who connected the hashtags of this post long before I did, for over an hour.
We covered a lot, connecting dots of a circles that include, among many other things, IABD, his background as a dancer who trained at NAISDA Dance College, aboriginal embrace of Cher as First Nations family because of her Cherokee descent, and my experience in Australia during their Mardi Gras a second time. (For the full interview, please visit https://www.mixcloud.com/mako-khan/in-conversation-with-jamal-story/ ) It was ultimately the most fulfilling full-circle, aha moments I've had this year.
The good news is that the year is not over and I have a sense that I will be back there in 2018. I plan to connect even more firmly with this corner of the black diaspora, and through its serene spirit of inclusion show where more of these oft disparate hashtags converge.
I can't wait.