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‘IYAguration’ is a dance film celebrating the history, resilience, joy and sisterhood among Black women throughout the diaspora. Utilizing storytelling, song, rhythms, and movement, this piece encompasses traditional elements connecting black women across nations and generations. Honoring the Yoruba language, I acknowledge IYA as "great mother" and the linguistic reference of inauguration as women of color continue to be uplifted into positions of power. I birthed this work within this era of historical firsts, social justice movements and a call for dismantling oppressive systems within a multiplicity of pandemics. 


In my final year as an MFA student in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, I created this Capstone project as a call to action for change and representation. While balancing my work between academia and advocacy throughout the crisis of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, my mission is to amplify black voices while also establishing impactful solutions and content. Dwelling with the importance of representation and personal narratives, I reference IYAs of literature: Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, bell hooks and Dr. Angela Davis. These legendary writers outline components of radical activism and the noble impact of black women being in positions of social and political power. My thesis speaks to the lineage of black female characters throughout television, film and media, along with the need to create more opportunities for us to be in charge of our own narratives.


This short film will take you on a journey through my culture, sharing the percussive sounds of djembe rhythms, the coily kinks of natural hair, the hymns of modern spirituals and the choreographies from Guinea to Brazil. Scenes of our beautiful traditions are paired with the brunt of our backstories, the microaggressions we face daily, and the fight we take on physically and spiritually to stand for our communities. Even amongst our daily struggles, we find balance between the calamity and the calm, and there is a bond which must be celebrated; this union is called sisterhood. I lean on the collective of women surrounding me, from my production team to my cast, to help me persevere at this time; and I stand proudly on the shoulders of my ancestors who have created a path before me. Honoring the great mothers of this world and the commencement of this work, I introduce to you... IYAguration 

-Kara Jenelle Wade

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