Using Storytelling and Dance to Transform a Community Space

It seems fitting the inaugural iteration of Kaimera’s SPACES was in Harlem, the home of many twentieth century cultural innovations. Currently in talks with presenters in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, India, Kenya, Romania, as well as New Orleans and Oakland in the US, SPACES is on track to become a global endeavor.

Between the co-creators of SPACES—, , and —English, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, and Portuguese are spoken. With their SPACES project,  offers a new piece of place-specific, rather than site-specific, theatre.

At the heart of SPACES is a curated performance of a diverse group of local storytellers, inviting its audience to connect with real people in an actual place—an experience theatre is primed to provide in our increasingly digitized world.

I saw SPACES: Harlem in June 2017, when it was presented as part of the multi-disciplinary Harlem Arts Festival, and housed in the Mt. Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church across the street from Marcus Garvey Park.

Arriving at a check-in table just inside one of the entrances to the historic church, audience members were each assigned a color, and a corresponding piece of string was tied onto our wrists. Thus tagged and separated from our companions, we were directed to gather within chalk circles in front of the steps that matched our string.

As we chatted with strangers standing in our chalk circles or silently enjoyed the music wafting over from across the street, a drummer appeared on the top stair and began to play.