Day 70: Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater

Ta’Rajee Omar, Juan Michael Porter II, and Christopher Woolfolk

 Detroit, MI, United States

They Tried To Claim Us, But We Already Had Names

a (Re)Claim; Detroit Project

ReConnect, ReImagine, ReOrganize, ReDeem, ReMember, ReCeive; Words of ReSolution. 

This offering guides observers through a movement mediation in a rap on grace. In connecting to the past through Ta’Rajee Omar’s interactive dancing and Juan Michael Porter II’s dialogue, observers are given the opportunity to discover genuine inspiration without stealing from others. We acknowledge the ancestors who built this land without being allowed to prosper off of the fruits of their own labor. We sever our own ties to sustaining oppressive practices by following a Black woman’s body and a Black man’s voice into unknown territory and accepting that this is progress, precisely because it is new, uncomfortable, and iconoclastic. Our piece offering is the opportunity to discover new ways of expressing your own creativity, without burden or shame, while building new bridges forward that do not oppress others. 

Take what you can into your own life, then find a way forward that rejects colonization, even as it embraces receiving wisdom from others. But remember, whenever you attempt to claim anyone else, that she or he already has a name.


Juan Michael Porter II is an arts & culture journalist dedicated to the intersection of Black lives, media criticism, and HIV advocacy. He is the staff writer for TheBody and TheBodyPro, and has bylines in The Washington Post, Observer, TDF Stages, Time Out NY, American Theatre Magazine, SYFY Wire, HuffPost, Ballet Review, Toggl, SNews, and BroadwayWorld Dance. He is an award-winning playwright, a National Critics Institute Fellow, and a member of American Theatre Critics Association.

Ta’Rajee Omar is a dancer, educator, and choreographer and the co-creator of the (Re)Claim; Detroit Project, an innovative training platform that explores and imagines the future of Identity, Culture and Art as it relates to our daily lives. As a performer she has worked with choreographers Janis Brenner, Nathan Trice, Wanjiru  Kamayu, Jennifer Archibald, Ronald K. Brown, and Francesca Harper, the visual artists Sameer Redy, Indigo Artists Collective, and Nick Cave, modeled for Rachel Comey’s New York Fashion Week collection and has been featured on Since returning to Detroit, she has worked extensively with Aku Kadogo, Marlies Yearby, Cleveland Raw Artists Showcase, and Body Rhythm Dance Theatre, which has become her artistic home.

Christopher Woolfolk, a Detroit born dancer, educator, and choreographer, began his professional dance training at Wayne State University, obtaining his Bachelors of Science in Dance Education. He continued his training under the guidance of Kevine Iega Jeff at Deeply Rooted Dance Theater in Chicago. Woolfolk has made his home at Body Rhythm Dance Theatre, working closely with Shirley Bryant in Detroit. He currently works with Ta’Rajee Omar, with whom he created the (Re)Claim; Detroit Project. 


Peace with self is the beginning of extending peace to others. Take ownership of your presence in space and in time. Meditate and reflect on your purpose to gain self alignment for moving authentically. 

Follow and invest in the amazing work that Ta’Rajee Omar and Christopher Woolfolk are doing. Go into Black and red-lined neighborhoods and spend your money there. When you see ideas that have been created by Black people, do not take them for yourself. Invest in that Black person and help take them to the next level. Keep the integrity of every space that you enter and honor.

As a daily practice, investigate how movement can help restore, remember, resolve, reorganize, reproduce, healing in spaces around you that you have a history with and also spaces in which already has history, and now have the  responsibility of upholding the integrity of that history in the midst of change.

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