Dandelions in the Wind

"A reminder that we can never be complacent" - Stouffville Free Press

 

Socially Relevant Theatre 

- a unique combination of culture, entertainment and education for students and adults, particularly relevant to racism and bullying prevention today and Black History curriculum.  "It will help to change the thought process on racism in this world." 

Written by Jennifer Dance, Dandelions in the Wind  is the musical love story of a young white woman and a young black man caught up in the turbulent times of America’s Civil Rights era. The inspiration to create this musical came from the racism that the playwright and her late husband experienced in the sixties and seventies as a young  bi-racial couple. Jennifer has placed that personal experience into the  backdrop of the American Civil Rights era, giving the musical power and depth.

The making of Dandelions in the Wind

Dandelions in the Wind brings attention to historical moments in Black History yet appeals to today’s youth. With music that ranges from African drumming  and gospel-type songs to  toe-tapping dance numbers and spoken-word,  this production shows how far we have come, yet how far we still have to go. It shows where hate can lead and how love can overcome. Although the musical centres on the racism between black and white, the production has a message for all groups of people who are separated by the yawning chasm of fear and distrust. It is a step toward bridging that divide.   

Press Review from the 2017 Canadian premiere in Toronto

 

Using potent, sometimes brutal images from the era as a backdrop to the story unfolding onstage, Dandelions in the Wind  offers an honest and at times heartbreaking assessment of how far we still have to go before true equality is achieved. Given the dignity and peaceful demeanour of the Alabama bus boycott protesters, the violent response of their oppressors is doubly shocking and the play forcefully reminds you of the dangers of complacency in a world that is, once  again, becoming increasingly hostile to immigrants and minorities.          


With a score that ranges from slave chants to gospel songs, the show  also has its moments of humour and empathy, including the beautifully-drawn bond between two fast friends, one black and one  white, who refuse to be cowed by the ignorance and hatred of their racist neighbours. It was a fitting addition to Black History Month events and a reminder that we can never afford to be complacent                                                  


- Kate Gilderdale, Stouffville Free Press  

Teacher reviews from the 2017 Canadian premiere in Toronto

 

The feedback from students was  overwhelming, they absolutely loved the play! They particularly enjoyed  the aspect of connecting history with the current events of today's political climate, highlighting how discrimination is still evident. They enjoyed the rich history of the Civil Rights Movement, and putting  context to civil rights activists such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. Students expressed that they were able to empathise more to the Civil rights activists as opposed to just learning about them via a traditional classroom setting. Students were moved by the fight and pain derived from a 'true life' story, particularly Jennifer's story, and felt  a sense of empowerment via the collective stance.

Natalie Lapko, Teacher: Victoria Park Collegiate Institute, Teacher, Toronto District School Board


 

A fantastic learning experience for my students and myself … the students were touched by the play and many were moved emotionally to tears. As an educator I liked the fact that the  message was blunt, in your face and it was undeniable. And to know that this was in part Jennifer Dance's life story ... it took away the opportunity for people to say that it's just a story and that it wouldn't happen in real life. The message is an important one for students to see and experience

- Careen Thompson, Teacher, Emery Collegiate Institute, Toronto District School Board. 



I brought my grade 7 classes to see the  show. It truly helped them understand some of the social challenges that have been part of the black experience. We had so much rich discussion on issues of social justice - racism, prejudice, segregation .... and  what to do about it - advocate, protest, educate, accept. Amazing  experience!

- Brandy Henry, Teacher, Thomas L Wells PS, Scarborough, Toronto District School Board 


Student reviews

"I really enjoyed the play. I also learned a lot of history.  Now I will strive to make the world a better place any way I can. I will try to help more people because the play made me realize something, something important about people and how we should treat  them. With love!"  


"Dandelions in the Wind was breathtaking and I was deeply touched, in fact certain parts had tears  welling in my eyes.   My mind is just boggled."


"The play was immensely thought-provoking and meaningful. It  gave me a completely different perspective. There were scary moments, enlightening scenes, deep sayings, and encouraging moments. I was educated in an unusual way. "  


"It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget … an  emotional roller-coaster with a heartfelt message. I learned that  everyone is equal and different, but to embrace who they are and not be  afraid." 


"We talked about social issues in class, then we saw this  play, and now I understand more ... Judging people is not right because  everyone is a human and should have equal rights, everyone should have a  voice. Watching this play improves people by changing the way they  think about others." 

 
" It really made me think about how bad racism is … makes me want to make a difference… made me emotional." 

 
" It really made me think about how bad racism is … makes me want to make a difference … made me emotional." 


 "It was like I was really there!"

A word from the Playwright

Jennifer Dance and Keith Bowen 1971

"DANDELIONS  IN THE WIND is my life's work. It encompasses so much of the emotion that I experienced during the sixties and seventies as a young white woman married to a young black man. Keith was attacked by Skinheads in the UK, left on the pavement with a severely fractured skull. He made what we thought was a full recovery and we moved to Canada looking for a safe place to raise our mixed-race children, but shortly after our arrival he died... shockingly... unexpectedly... a complication from the earlier head injury. I was five months pregnant with our third child. 


"More than three decades have not faded the image that was seared onto my soul the day of the funeral: our little girl clutching dandelions she had picked for her daddy, the October sun transforming the lowly weeds into filigree globes of silver, and her curls into a halo of gold.      
        She was three. 
        The  funeral had taught her that flowers mean 'I love you', but she was perplexed as to how to give them to her father. I blew some of the parachutes heavenwards. She watched them float back to earth, her bottom  lip trembling. And then she said, 'If I think really hard, can I think the flowers to daddy?'' "    


- Jennifer Dance  




DANDELIONS  in the WIND premiered in Toronto during Black History month of 2017. Funds are now being organized and plans consolidated to move the show forward in 2019-2020. Although the show is for all ages from 10 to 100,  our focus is on youth. We are particularly interested in having educators move alongside us. If you would like to be part of this amazing journey please contact me at jenniferdance.author@hotmail.com 

SOCIAL MEDIA REVIEWS


I  was moved to tears by the raw emotion that this play evoked....  It  captivated the audience and touched all of us so profoundly. As a white  woman I’ve never looked at myself as privileged, I’m just the same as  everyone else, but when I saw this musical my heart ached for what this  race has had to endure simply for the colour of their skin, and sadly  these same attitudes are still alive today. This musical stirred up emotions and brought about a yearning for change and equality. We were so privileged to see it

- Brandy Bayley


A  compelling and heart-rending reflection on racism. Dandelions in the Wind evokes the power of the human spirit among those who resisted peacefully and with dignity in the face of overwhelming hatred and  bigotry. It certainly brought back memories of the Civil Rights movement  in the 60s, and made me realize how far we still haven't come. Bring Kleenex

- Kate Gilderdale


The  strength of emotion that built up as the story unfolded was  overwhelming. The light-hearted interludes and the music helped balance the heartbreak. Full of information that is crucial for older  generations to remember and younger ones to know. Deserves major  funding. It should be out there on a permanent stage - Faith Arnold


I was deeply moved by Dandelions in the Wind  … it was a real eye opener to the past and the present! Thank you for creating this and sharing your experiences and life with a big audience -  Adelheid Heidi Toogood


A remarkable play… this is the kind of education humanity needs right now

- Rhiannon Traill


A profoundly mind changing musical

- Jane Warren


An incredibly emotional musical and I loved every minute

- Natalie Coultice Matthews


A wonderful play... great story, amazing music and very appropriate given the recent news and headlines

- Louise Dyer


I  loved the show. The message is relevant to all prejudices but was a real reminder of history even for someone who was a young adult in the 60's and 70's. Well worth coming from Winnipeg to see it -

Ann Wolfman


Absolutely incredible! Loved the story-line, the message, the gamut of emotions evoked!

- Brenda Reid


This was an amazing play. It touched me personally as I am a biracial woman.  Racism is unfortunately still very alive today. This play was not only emotional but also educational. I'm so glad I was able to see it and would love to see it again

- Catherine Vanherzeele


Beautiful and timely play, especially with what we are seeing in the world today. The music and the message was amazing! - Nicole S


It could have been the 1960's...it could have been 2017. The lesson is as applicable then as it is now - Diane Miller


I really got a sense of the courage and determination needed to effect change in a misguided society

- Falconer Abraham, Voice coach


This show is phenomenal. We came from upstate New York. Wish we could see it again. It's an amazing story

- Rees Brown