Working with the music and dance styles of the early 1960s, dance artist Afua Hall's Red explores the legacy of one of that decade's pintsize civil-rights inspirations: Ruby Bridges, who at age 6 became the first black girl to attend an all-white school, in newly desegregated New Orleans. Hall, a Jamaican émigré, discovered Bridges' story when she saw Norman Rockwell's iconic painting The Problem We All Live With, which depicts Bridges, walking defiantly among taller, well-tailored Caucasians, having dodged a racist's tomato before it landed splat onto a wall. Red is not a straightforward biography of Bridges but more a meditation on her legacy. "It provides glimpses into her story, but really it's about how we deal with discrimination and entering places we're not allowed to enter," says Octavio Campos, the show's producer. What began primarily as a dance project has become an all-encompassing artistic smorgasbord: Just weeks before its world premiere, Hall added an experimental film installation and a visual installation of black and white babies on a curtain, combined with spoken-word portions to elucidate a nonlinear narrative based on Hall's personal observations, scholarly research, and interviews. She didn't have to travel far for the latter: Bridges' brother-in-law runs a barbershop in Miami Shores.
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