Are You Hearing Me?
Director: Petra Richterová & Albert “The Ghost” Esquilin
Synopsis: Inspired by tenebrist aesthetics of 17th century European painting where dramatically illuminated subjects emerge out of dark space, ARE YOU HEARING ME? evokes a sense of the mystical and paranormal in a Hip Hop context. Converting life’s existential quandaries into sensual performance, Bruk Up dancer Albert “The Ghost” Esquilin melts into the sound, becoming visual music, meticulously precise and full of emotion. Through the geometry of Ghost’s improvisatory dance style inspired by the irregular patterns of vapor and smoke, we are taken into the realm of the invisible. Original music by Iman Omari and Cavalier.
Bio: Petra Richterová—SCHOLAR, PHOTOGRAPHER, FILMMAKER
Dr. Petra Richterová was born in Prague, Czech Republic (1978). She received her doctorate from Yale University (2010) specializing in the Arts of Africa and its Diaspora. As researcher, photographer, and filmmaker, she has worked in west and north Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. Petra is currently a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York revising her award-winning doctoral thesis, Rumba: A Philosophy of Motion, into a book manuscript (Duke University Press) and finishing two more books: Clock of the Earth, B&W photographs taken on the African continent co-authored by George N. Preston and Frank Stewart, and Sound of Light, a book of music photography and conversations. Her award-winning, experimental Afro-cosmic short film, ON MY MIND (Blue Note Records), premiered with Afropunk in 2020. Petra spends her time between New York and Savannah, where she is an Assistant Professor of African and African-American Art History at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Albert Esquilin aka “The Ghost of New York”—DANCER
Bruk Up, Dancehall, Freeform Possession, Hip Hop
Albert Esquilin was born in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (1984), of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. He is a street dance innovator with over 25 years of experience, and an original member of the legendary Bruk Up crew, Bed-Stuy Veterans (BSV). Bruk Up (“broken” in Jamaican patois) is a dance genre that emerged out of Brooklyn in the mid 1990s that blends Hip Hop Popping with Jamaican Dancehall. Esquilin contributed to the development of footwork gliding as well as diagonal framing technique in traditional Bruk Up dance. His own style morphed into “Freeform Possession,” an improvisatory genre inspired by Hip Hop and R&B flows, characterized by mimicking the complex motion of smoke and vapor. The Ghost also overlays his Freeform performances with paranormal and superhero themes. In 2007, Esquilin and fellow BSV member Rain won the Amateur Night competition at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, NYC. He was featured in The New York Times article, “Brukup Follows an Afro-Caribbean Beat” (2013); Vice’s “Bruk Up: The Dance that Bridges Jamaican Dancehalls and Brooklyn Streets” (2014); and The New Yorker short film, The Ghost: Bruk Up Five-Borough Freestyle (2015). Esquilin has performed at the Brooklyn Museum, Baltimore School of Performing Arts, BET Spring Bling, The David Letterman Show, and for the Huffington Post. He has appeared in music videos by Wayne Wonder, Shaggy, and Lous and the Yakuza, and featured in Elton John’s 2019 Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour, among others. Lords of BSV, a full-length documentary film on the Bed-Stuy Veterans, was released in 2015, and BRIC TV’s 2017 short documentary, Ghost: Bed-Stuy Veterans and The Evolution of Bruk Up | BK Stories was awarded an Emmy Award in the category of Program Feature. The Ghost is CEO of L.O.U.D League of Unreal Dancing, and founder of The School of Bruk Up. He lives in Newark, NJ.
Program: Color, Movement & Space – VAEFF 2021