Running Time: 23 minutes 41 seconds | 2021
“My work, as long as I have been making it, is an undeniable love letter to the Black Queer Community,” says Rashaad Newsome. Black Magic is a striking, uplifting celebration of resiliency and strength. The sleek, unfolding film documents a 2019 live performance that Newsome has “expanded” and activated with the use of motion tracking software and dazzling visual effects. Organized into three acts, the film explores trans women and their contributions to the Vogue fem lexicon; the five elements of Vogue fem, including hands, catwalk, floor performance, spin dips, and duck-walking; and how the marginalization of the Black Queer community has led to systemic oppression, violence, and instability. Yet Black Queer people resist, creating space for creativity, community, and joy. Newsome refers to this resistance as Black Magic.
The film’s choreography features performers vigorously flipping, swinging, twirling, and shaking their red, black, and green hair. As they “pass the beat,” Newsome visually depicts their energies and “souls” passing from one to another. Concurrently, Newsome maps the movement patterns of the dancers and transforms the collected data into drawings on a screen above the stage.
Black Magic features an original score by Newsome that is an amalgamation of several live performances, where the artist uses two Nintendo Wii's to play and manipulate his score, while a gospel choir, Gregorian chants, live electronic music, live instrumentation, a vogue MC, and an opera singer collide, acting as an operating system to create a new visual and sonic reality.