JUNETEENTH HONORED BY THE STRAZ CENTER VETERAN AND CIVILIAN DANCE ENSEMBLE at Straz Center’s Riverwalk Stage

A collaboration with area veterans and civilians called the Straz Center Veteran and Civilian Dance Ensemble will debut an original spoken word piece, “Freedom Tree,” under the artistic direction of Katurah Robinson and John Park at Straz’s Riverwalk stage.

On Saturday, June 19 at 7 p.m., in honor of Juneteenth, the day marking the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the emancipation of slaves in the United States, additional songs and spoken word will accompany the world premiere of choreographed poem.

The featured poem “Freedom Tree” is symbolic because the Ensemble was asked for sentences to describe freedom followed by sentences to describe trees. They discovered that many descriptions overlapped and further realized that they had created a spoken poem.

“I read their lyrics back to them, and they basically gave the same feeling for freedom and a tree. Freedom is essential to wholeness, well-being and, therefore, peace and harmony. Without her, we exist as a shell of a being, and usually an artist doesn’t like to exist as a shell. This emphasis is on living and living freely and associating with everything around us – the nature – is free and creates all the time. If a tree didn’t exhale, we wouldn’t be inhaling,” said poet and choreographer Katurah.

She explained that the program helps veterans feel more connected.

“This process is a way to help them reconnect with that sense of freedom, which then helps them rehabilitate or continue their adaptation now being back on the civilian side,” she said. “What I enjoyed most was experiencing their growth and getting their input through movement and words, them not realizing they were actually writing poetry until I read it again Freedom came out perfectly in the tree – nothing short of phenomenal what they wrote and delivered in terms of choreography.”

Free and open to the public, the event requires pre-registration.

The event is Saturday, June 19 at 7 p.m. Prior free registration is required. To visit https://www.strazcenter.org/Events/Straz/Shows/2020-2021_-Arts-Legacy-REMIX/Juneteenth-Commemoration

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