Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Creator of “What the Body Knows” to Host Moral Mondays Event


Choreographer, creative performer and queer, disabled artist of color Barak adé Soleil will be featured in the upcoming Moral Mondays event held by Seattle University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).


After creating his “What The Body Knows” choreographic project, performed in Chicago last October, Soleil formed his synthesis of race and disability in art.

“I want to uncover nuances of our bodies as we age, evolve, and are impacted by life’s dynamic journey,” Soleil said. “What does this body know? The body that searched to be like everyone else or attain the absolute epitome of fitness.”

“The body present with all its imperfections. The body that acknowledges the struggles of its ancestors, reveals its own challenges,” he continued.“The body that radiates humanity. Through exploring the depths of my own physical evolution and in process with my creative collaborators, ‘what the body knows’ will offer distinct reflections of diverse bodies on the stage and in the world.”

Moral Mondays is a Black Lives Matter initiative brought to Seattle U in 2014 by Tyrone Brown, assistant director of OMA. The project was inspired by the protest movement in North Carolina that began in response to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

There are nine Moral Mondays events throughout the school year— three per quarter. Past events this year have included a talk from Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, and a presentation on sanctuary cities featuring Mayor Ed Murray and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

These events are intended to establish Seattle U’s campus as a safe space for conversations on race and police brutality, as well as bring attention to the ways in which the university is both complicit in and critical of these issues.

This coming Monday, Soleil will come to our campus to offer a dynamic seminar that will be “focused on the complex intersection and legacies of race and disability,” he said on his project’s website.

Tyrone Brown said he thinks Soleil’s message echoes his own sentiment of using art as a way of “modeling to students ways that you can use forms like art, like performance art, like imagery to speak.”

Brown chose to feature Soleil for OMA’s Moral Mondays because of his hybrid style of performing and creating that blends together elements of identity, the African diaspora, queerness and the culture of disability through a postmodern lens.

“Art is irrational, and sometimes the only way to speak,” Brown said.

OMA strives to highlight and celebrate intersectionality for those who belong to multiple cultural identities. Soleil’s performance was chosen to punctuate the importance of race and intersection after Black History Month, and in continuation of Moral Monday’s Black Lives Matter initiative.

Dominique Friz, a sophomore nursing student who has attended Moral Mondays events in the past, reflected on what OMA events have taught her about intersectionality within the context of Seattle U.

“Tyrone [Brown] and the OMA do a really good job with supporting black women, men and trans students,” Friz said.

She also mentioned that OMA and Moral Mondays shed light not only on the intersections between race and class, but also between gender and sexuality. Still, she believes more could be done on campus to address these subjects.

“It’s good that SU is endorsing these things, but it’s not the end-all-be-all for SU. I think they could do so much more,” Friz said.

Soleil has been awarded a residency with “3Arts” in Chicago, a program that “works to sustain and promote artists in the six-county Chicago metropolitan area.”

According to the collective’s website, “3Arts” aims to focus on women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities. It stems from the need for a diversity of voices and visions to be supported should Seattle prosper and inspire.

Soleil also founded network for artists of color of all artistic disciplines called D UNDERBELLY.

“D UNDERBELLY seeks to act as a catalyst for shifting perceptions; demystifying racism and recognizing the underlying contributions indigenous people from the Latino, Asia, Native and African diaspora have made to this new world culture,” Soleil said.

The event will take place March 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Pigott Auditorium and is open to the public. Tickets are available at, and range from $4 to $10.

The evening will involve dance and movement exercises alongside Soleil himself, so comfortable clothing is recommended.

Maddy may be reached at
[email protected]

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