Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


Getting Seconds: 'Our Daily Bread' Returns to Counterpulse this November

Our Daily Bread – a multidisciplinary dance production that brings narrative life to the intersection of food justice, heritage, eating, and environmental sustainability – makes its way back to Counterpulse (San Francisco) November 15-18, 2012. It is a timely re-appearance. As we move closer to the American food festival we call Thanksgiving and as Californians ponder the results of Proposition 37 (which rejected the labeling of genetically modified foods), we see food being consumed not only during our lunch breaks, but also in our national imagination.

I first saw
Our Daily Bread during its premiere run in April 2011 and was impressed by the show’s depth, as well as its precise, athletic choices in writing and choreography. Artist and activist Amara Tabor-Smith, director Ellen Sebastian Chang, and visual artist Laura Diamondstone push this year’s Daily Bread down a more complex path than its first staging, tackling the question of how we can see the food movement as a women’s movement. In Amara’s own words, “In the first incarnation of this work, I did not delve into this territory as deeply because it felt both intense and controversial, but the more work I do around food, the more I realize I cannot do this work and NOT address this.”

Towards this end, Our Daily Bread seeks to build more cross-cultural alliances and networks of support among women and particularly, women of color. On Sunday, November 19, Our Daily Bread will add an offstage panel discussion, called Sisters at the Table. This free panel brings together women who are experts in their fields, with the hope of fostering open dialogue about their works’ intersections precisely by sharing how food issues manifest within their own communities.

Panelist Mary Gee (Vice-President of DYJ & Associates, Inc. and doctoral candidate in Sociology at UC San Francisco) reflected to me by email, “As dialogue around food awareness/justice issues become more prevalent in mainstream discussions, I look forward to seeing more conversations bridging, not just highlighting, food awareness and eating disorders, particularly within communities of color.” Mary will be discussing women of color and eating disorders, and has been working for over a decade on the sociological aspect of eating disorders within the Asian American community. Other speakers include Rucha Chitnis  (India Program Director at Women’s Earth Alliance) whose expertise includes women farmers in India, Ashara Ekundayo (food justice activist and the panel moderator), Gail Meyers (Executive Director of Farms to Grow, based in Oakland), and Tiny a.k.a. Lisa Gray-Garcia (an author and homeless advocate).

Again, Our Daily Bread is timely work, and its return to Counterpulse shows great promise, both in terms of theatrical experience and issues-based conversation. If you’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving though a cross-cultural lens, this is your show. If you’re just hungry on some level, this could be your show. To quote Amara, “In an era when we are facing global food shortages and a rise in food-related diseases, we see that this work as an opportunity to ‘feed’ people on multiple levels.”

That is all. Buy tickets here. Don’t forget the panel, and enjoy.

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