Ìbà Obìnrin grew out of a collaboration among dance artists, community activists, and scholars. Tamara Williams, Artistic Director of Moving Spirits, a contemporary arts organization dedicated to the arts of the African diaspora, participated with filmmaker and dance artist Cara Hagan (New York, NY), choreographers Paloma McGregor (New York, NY) and Ananya Chatterjea (Minneapolis, MN), poet Jacinta V. White (Winston-Salem, NC), and dramaturg Sharon Bridgforth (Los Angeles, CA), in the production of a collection of short dance films, poetry, and ritual practices entitled REFRAME / REMNANT / RITUAL. Williams' work, Ìbà Obìnrin, premiered virtually with the other choreographers films on Juneteenth (June 19) in 2021.
In Yorùbá, obìnrin refers to women. Ìbà roughly translates to “homage” or “respect,” however it conveys many layers of meaning. Ìbà is traditionally voiced, sung, or chanted, venerating the ancestors, elders, and all superior and metaphysical beings. It is central to healing practices and uplifts the community. Ìbà Obìnrin acknowledges the importance and influences of women in traditions of the southern corridor of the United States and around the world. The film highlights how Black women have traditionally and historically connected to nature to support and fortify their communities, exploring through movement the influences of ritual, nature, and place in Black women’s traditional practices of care. Four dancers, Moving Spirits artists Kendra J. Ross and Tamara Williams and invited guests Bianca Medina and Sade Adona, take the audience through a journey of movements, gestures, and situated practices that narrate how water is used to heal, how elements of the earth are used to cleanse, and how wind is used to transform in sacred traditions of Black women in the south. Ìbà Obìnrin was filmed in three places of great significance in Charlotte, NC – the Catawba River, Big Rock Nature Preserve, and McAlpine Creek. The film features traditional Yorùbá songs and spirituals that speak to the power of water in nature and the enduring relationship of women and fresh waters.
Ìbà Obìnrin was commissioned by the National Center for Choreography at Akron. Williams received an additional Filmed in NC Fund grant from the from the Cucalorus Film Festival. The company collaborated with cinematographer Marlon Morrison in the production of the work. Moving Spirits' Musical Director and African-Brazilian percussionist Luciano Xavier da Silva with musician Leo Jesus provided musical composition and arrangement.