At the Bronx Academy of Art and Dance’s (BAAD!) new space, performance artist Yalini Dream recalled the summer day when she told her mother she was in love with a woman.
“That is not true. You’re just friends. This is against God. This is against your ancestors,” she said in her mother’s voice for a performance featuring Ms. Dream as herself, her parent and her aunt.
Later on in the performance, Ms. Dream’s aunt believes her sister is
crying over Ms. Dream’s partially-dyed hair, but Ms. Dream knows the real reason.
“I’ve had wild hair my whole life. I don’t think my Amma was crying about my hair last summer,” the actress said.
Ms. Dream, a Sri Lankan performer born in Manchester, England, raised in Texas and based in Brooklyn, was among eight female poets who shared their stories through poetry, song, dance and video at BAAD’s Lit Night, part of the organization’s annual BAAD!ASS Women Festival which began on March 8 and concludes at the end of this week.
Before the festival became an annual event, BAAD! executive director Charles Rice-Gonzales said the organization found it hard to promote individual female performance artists, especially the queer women and women of color it hoped to support. So Mr. Rice-Gonzales devised a solution.
“Why don’t we put them together as a festival?” he said.
The event’s edgy name’s comes from a Donna Summer song called “Bad Girl.” Mr. Rice-Gonzales said he and artistic director Arthur Aviles toyed with the title until they came up with BAAD!ASS Women, which stuck.
Like Ms. Dream, many of the artists performing at Lit Night identify as queer. They expounded on self-discovery, often related to sexuality, and the impact of their journeys on themselves and those around them.
Filmmaker and musician Nyna read an excerpt from her screenplay called Feels Like a Woman, which focuses on her own coming-out story.