IUPUI professor Dr. Lasana Kazembe has been receiving much-deserved acclaim for his productions at The Cabaret, including his upcoming production, Firedance, and The Voodoo of Hells Half-Acre: A Blues Poetry Opera.
Firedance will have its world premiere on May 14 at The Cabaret, where Dr. Kazembe serves as the inaugural Artist in Residence. The production is described as:
An original, two-part suite exploring the rich architecture of sound, movement, and memory. Spoken word, dance, music, and visual culture comingle in a sublime expression and aesthetic exploration of heritage, memory, meaning, and transcendence. Drawing on the African cultural concept of Serudj-Ta (meaning: to repair and remake the world), Firedance is a lush, visual soundscape that features an exciting and innovative blend of story-based dance, improvisational music, spoken word poetry, and storytelling. Channeled through visual and performing arts, SerudjTa is a cultural imperative that urges us to visualize and situate our art-making as soulcraft.
Dr. Kazembe’s previous production, The Voodoo of Hells Half-Acre, is now available to watch on-demand on PBS:
A live multimedia theatrical presentation chronicling the story of Mr. Wright from his migration from Mississippi to the decade he spent in Chicago from 1927-1937. The performance involves a tenpiece ensemble that features spoken word poetry, singing, saxophone, piano, upright bass and drums. Musical interludes enhance and animate the 90-minute, six-movement opera.
The production is airing nationally in 250 PBS markets from Boston to San Diego. The presentation took place at The Cabaret, was filmed & produced by WFYI, and features local musicians and artists. The project was made possible through a New Frontiers for Creativity and Scholarship grant from the IU Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.
Dr. Kazembe is an educator, a poet, a spoken word artist, and educational consultant.
At IUPUI, Dr. Kazembe is an Assistant Professor in both the School of Education’s Department of Urban Teacher Education and the Africana Studies program. He teaches in the elementary education program and helps to prepare preservice teachers in their journey to become licensed, professional educators. He provides professional development and educational consulting for practicing teachers and
administrative professionals, as well as teaching and mentoring graduate students. He also serves on the Executive Advisory Council of the newly minted IUPUI Center for Africana Studies and Culture.
In addition to his work at IUPUI and serving as Artist In Residence at The Cabaret, Dr. Kazembe also serves as the Associate Publisher and Executive Director of Third World Press Foundation in Chicago, the oldest continuously publishing, independent Black press in the world. He is also a published author, most recently editing the book Keeping Peace: Reflections on Life, Legacy, Commitment, and Struggle.
Dr. Kazembe’s upcoming creative production, Firedance, will debut at The Cabaret on Saturday, May 14. Tickets are available now.
Learn more about Dr. Kazembe’s work:
- Interview with Visit Indy: https://www.visitindy.com/indianapolis-dr-lasana-d-kazembe
- PBS: https://www.pbs.org/show/voodoo-hells-half-acre-blues-poetry-opera
- ICARE (Implementing Conversations to Advance Racial Equity): https://bit.ly/3H0xZ4P
Dr. Kazembe, with colleague Dr. Joseph Tucker Edmonds, facilitates a racial equity workshop series sponsored by the IU School of Medicine. This is their second year working with the School of Medicine to improve racial awareness and equity among faculty, staff, and students.
- Dr. Kazembe serves as co-PI on a grant ($498,308) from the Indiana Department of Education to provide cultural competency training and professional support to more than 300 schools across Indiana. The SoE grant team develops and facilitates four strands (Equity, Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Family, Community & Schools) of professional learning services for trainer-of-trainer school leadership teams across the state. Info here: https://bit.ly/3g5dyHS
- In February 2021, Dr. Kazembe was named Scholar of the Month by the IUPUI Center for Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP). As part of this public award, he delivered a keynote during TRIP’s Scholar of the Month Speaker Series A link to his Scholar of the Month address is located here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4v73pydvtk.
- Dr. Kazembe’s biography: https://education.iupui.edu/faculty-research/facultydirectory/kazembe-lasana.html.