Barking Legs presents the first dance from the movie “Tracing Abandoned Tracks”
“Forgive me, my boy. Is this the Chattanooga choo choo?
Glenn Miller’s 1941 hit song “Chattanooga Choo Choo” begins with this racial epithet.
After realizing the racial lens through which the song was written, a local group of dance artists set out to research the Civil War and racism within the American railroad industry, both at the nationally and in our own community.
The response to their findings is a dance film titled Tracing Abandoned Tracks; a modern and inclusive recreation of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” intended to celebrate and honor the importance of artists and their art that drives community-led change.
You’re invited to the dance movie premiere on Saturday, July 16 at 7 p.m. In addition to the film, there will be a conversation with the artists and a live dance performance. Admission is free, but there is a suggested donation of $10.
In creating this dance film, Ann Law, Founder and Director of Barking Legacy Theatre, invited dance artists with community and historical ties who represent a current and diverse group of men and women of different races. The group, called Collaborative Roots, tried to answer this question: How do we create a future we all want to live in?
Many pieces had to be put together to answer this question and make the film complete and reflect the change the dance group is striving to bring about. CALEB Board Chairman and community activist Michael Gilliland led local group Milele Roots, poet Marcus Ellsworth and dance artists in a discussion on the history of race and labor in America, which has ultimately led to the original sound score. Creating a new song, the “pardon me” line continued to draw the diverse group of artists to reflect on their own experiences, informing the creation of a new release that speaks to a more present and future. diversified.
Everyone ventured out to learn and understand how trains have transformed the city of Chattanooga, exploring the importance of place and imagining our cityscape in a more inclusive way. Dance artists explored the historical implications of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and the many current parallels of injustice and systemic racism. This exploration empowered and inspired them to overcome the barriers that disenfranchised communities in our city have and still face.
Through the lens of Chattanooga’s complex history with the railroad system, this dance film explores the ideas, music, movement and railroads that have led to the present day.
These elements, along with five locations on the Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia Line (TAG), helped create the dance movie, Tracing Abandoned Tracks.
Barking Legacy Theater arts projects have continued to engage the arts community and the community as a whole to overcome barriers in the perceived social, cultural and environmental landscapes that have shaped our personal experiences. Tracing Abandoned Tracks is a creative place-making project that reflects the community we live in.
Tracing Abandoned Tracks was designed and directed by Ann Law of Barking Legs Theater and was joined by Chattanooga content creator and videographer Tane Hopper who captured the choreographic aspect of the project.
Collaborative Roots includes Move and Groove Kidz founders Aaron Cherokee and Monica Ellison; queer land surveyor and interpreter Kenny Keawekane; Crisis Advocate and queer artist Jessi Faircloth; physical therapist and Tai Chi instructor Beth Herring; digital archivist and hip-hop dancer Kenny KG Glatt; and dancer and actor Kyle Dagnan.