The ‘Black Card’ Project

The ‘Black Card’ Project

“The ‘Black Card’ Project” is a live-action dance theatre cartoon about Artie Alvin Beatty III, a young homeschooled black boy with a highly overdeveloped inner-sphere. Artie’s mother, being concerned about his lack of awareness of his cultural identity, sends him to Booker T. Malcolm Luther Parks Academy of Absolute Blackness! In a single school day Artie must pass various classes such as, “How To Dance on Beat” and “Thuggin 101” in order to earn his “black card”.

This family-friendly show aims to impart hope, raise awareness, and open dialogue about the narrow definition of the black identity.  While specific to the black cultural experience, the show holds universal themes of identity, belonging, and perseverance.

Race is still a difficult conversation point for so many Americans.  In “The ‘Black Card’ Project”, humor is strategically wielded to ease the perceived strain of leaning into this difficult and potentially emotionally charged conversation. By blending theatrical elements of a vaudeville show, 90’s black sitcoms, and old school Saturday morning cartoons, the characters are intentionally likeable and deserving of respect. Each scene is embedded with specific historic and current day references. A great deal of care went into this production so that anyone, regardless of racial or ethnic background, is able to relate to Artie’s journey.

“The Black Card” is an African-American metaphor of one’s black identity, authenticity, or belonging.

Created by Dominic Moore-Dunson in collaboration with Kevin Parker, assisted by Bill Wade

Best for Grades 6-12
90 Minutes – No Intermission

Photo credit: Emily Stonecipher (dark background) and Shane Wynn (light background)

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Audience Reviews Firestone Community Learning CenterArtsNow

“Some topics shared were more difficult than others…but all were beautifully and skillfully depicted. Well done!” 
-Audience Member, Kellyann, from Sept 2018

“What an entertaining yet thought-provoking show! I feel honored to have been able to attend the world premiere.”
-Audience Member, Aimee, from Sept 2018

“Even as an African American woman, I could follow your story. To present this in a theatrical setting that captivated and involved the audience, provided an inner thought process, delicately broached generational and systematic issues; all of which presented through the art of dance, was absolutely superb.

I absolutely love to see African American men showcasing their talents; especially, those that explore and highlight depth, diversity, barriers out shadowed by success, stifle stereotypes, and more importantly a cultural group of men who are keenly aware of their contribution, impact, and purpose to themselves and others. You dear, have solidified your niche to explore and visualize a [Black Card] journey that many fail to realize or appropriately navigate. “
-Audience member, Rei Tori, from Sept 2018

“Dominic is a graduate of our high school dance program, and we have had a long-standing working relationship with Inlet. These two relationships made this adventure an easy “yes.”  When Dominic first described the concept for “The ‘Black Card’ Project” (likely three years ago), I was taken with the unique idea that he had regarding student input into the choreographic choices he would make in the development of the work. I am used to the excitement surrounding the acquisition or commissioning of work for my students; this, however, took the creative process into another step that many professional artists are less willing to go: allowing students a view into the process, and after some steady mentoring, accepting student feedback and suggestions, and inserting those ideas into professional work in a way that is clearly visible, and which represents student investment into the project. Dominic and Kevin were helping students make work, and the students were helping Dominic and Kevin make work. In addition, the teaching methods Dominic employed to teach the craft of choreography, to convey meaning and message to the audience, to perform with conviction and character…these are concepts rarely captured in the standard composition class, and they inspire learning in areas above and beyond any curricular standard ever written. My students were transformed, and now have much greater confidence and command of how to think of and use dance as a language. The buzz that the premiere caused around the school was palpable, but the impact will be most felt when we become committed to showing it annually…its message is so powerful, the conversation so important, and the potential so great for far-reaching meaning that we must find ways to share it with all of the students of Akron. Not only do I predict it could change our students by giving them hope (many of whom fit Dominic’s younger self-description), but it could also impact our community with proof that the arts have the power to make positive change in the world.”
-Kelly Berick, Director of Dance at Firestone Community Learning Center (Akron, OH)

“ArtsNow works to leverage arts and culture in Summit County to support and strengthen the region’s economic and social vibrancy.  We believe that a healthy cultural sector is a leading indicator of economic prosperity and a thriving community where people want to live, work, and play. “The ‘Black Card’ Project,” an authentic effort around a community-driven dance theater piece, came on my radar in late 2017. A graduate of Akron Public Schools, Dominic Moore-Dunson worked with high school students, local businesses, and leadership organizations to create work that was both for and with the community. It was and is a timely and compelling approach to using art to educate, engage, and open dialogues that otherwise would remain stagnant.

Research has shown that exposure to stories of other cultural experiences, such as through work like “The ‘Black Card’ Project,” significantly increases empathy and the ability to see another person’s point of view. “The ‘Black Card’ Project” speaks to identity and place in a way that engages and resources communities toward discussion. ArtsNow is a proud partner of Inlet Dance Theatre, Dominic, and look forward to supporting this effort as it continues to put northeast Ohio and Akron on the map as a place where excellence in the arts can be found.”
-Nicole Mullet, Executive Director of ArtsNow