Inspired by soccer and the artist’s first generation American experience, Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s /peh-LO-tah/ is a "futbol-framed freedom suite" that actively intersects global economics, fandom culture across borders, and the politics of joy. The work was initially conceived during Joseph’s first trip to South Africa, when the nation was preparing for the 2010 World Cup.
Along with spoken word poetry by Joseph, /peh-LO-tah/ features interdisciplinary performances by Amara Tabor-Smith and native Chicagoan Traci Tolmaire as well as original music by Tommy Soulati Shepherd with selected vocal arrangements by Yaw Agyeman of the Black Monks of Mississippi. Filmed imagery from Joseph’s travels to South Africa and Brazil and video projection designed by visual artist and long-time collaborator David Szlasa accompany dancers who perform the movements of soccer players fused with hip-hop and modern dance as well as folkloric dances of South Africa and Brazil. The distinct physiologies and expressiveness of the dancers’ bodies offer a powerful meditation on egalitarianism “choreographed to the rhythm of the beautiful game.”