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Ballet After Dark

Longline: A woman of color heals through dance...And uses social media to do the same for others
Short Synopsis: Real people. Real stories . Real lives. This short documentary combines the realness of cinema verite and videologue with the sometimes imaginary world of social media and animation content to follow the journey of a trauma survivor’s attempt to create a healing space in present day Baltimore.
Long Synopsis: Real people. Real stories. Real lives. A woman of color heals through dance. After a devastating sexual assault, Tyde-Courtney Edwards use ballet and nude photography of herself to reclaim her body. Using her own experience with healing, she founds Ballet After Dark (BAD), a dance Therapy company with a mission to create a healing space for trauma survivors. Her movement gains more traction and she gets featured in multiple media platforms and articles. Tyde is torn between creating her own mark for her company and finding a space within the traditional dance community. As Tyde struggles to heal herself and make it as a dancer, the teacher must become the student to move forward.

  • Barbara K. Asare-Bediako
  • Barbara K. Asare-Bediako
  • Nora Long
  • Barbara K. Asare-Bediako
  • Tyde-Courtney Edwards
    Key Cast
  • Tracie Jiggetts
    Key Cast
  • Blair Edwards
    Key Cast
  • Norma Pera
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    19 minutes 7 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 21, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    86,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 2019 Nepal America International Film Festival
    Silver Spring
    United States
    July 28, 2019
    Official Selection, DMV Special Mention
  • San Antonio Black International Film Festival
    San Antonio, Texas
    United States
    October 12, 2019
    Best Short Documentary
  • Spirit Film Festival
    October 5, 2019
  • American Documentary Film Festival
    Palm Springs
    United States
    West Coast
  • Indianapolis Black Documentary Film Festival
    Indianapolis, IN
    United States
  • San Francisco Black Film Festival
    San Francisco, CA
    United States
  • Maryland Film Festival
    Baltimore, MD
    United States
  • NorthwestFest International Documentary Festival
    November 5, 2020
  • Montreal International Black Film Festival
    Montreal, Quebec
    September 23, 2020
Director Biography - Barbara K. Asare-Bediako

As filmmaker, producer, writer, SAG-AFTRA Actor, Anthropologist, I am driven by my interest in women’s stories, especially the ways in which women empower themselves. My background in cross cultural studies merges with my artistry, creating a wonderful lens through which to create documentary film. Many of my creations are heavily influenced by my work with homeless women. I am a graduate of Kansas State University, Northwestern University, and a recent graduate John Hopkins University Film & Media Masters Program. As a Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund Fellow, I received Development, Documentary Lab and Production funding for the making of “Ballet After Dark”. I enjoyed working with an all-woman team to film and produce “Ballet After Dark” and look forward to creating more stories about the lives of courageous, unique and dynamic women.

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Director Statement

I am a Generation X Woman of Color, who came into my young adulthood during a time when women, especially Women of Color, had limited control over their bodies, images and sexuality. My millennial daughter opened my mind to the empowerment behind the anti-“slut shaming”(stigmatizing a woman for engaging in behavior judged to be promiscuous or sexually provocative) movement, and lipstick feminism (a movement embracing femininity and women's sexual power). This further entrenched my believe that women can use their bodies and images for any means they choose, and still have a right to safety and respect. Those were my thoughts prior to beginning filming with Tyde-Courtney Edwards, a Black Ballerina from Baltimore. They prepared me to respect Edward’s choices and get interested in her newly formed company Ballet After Dark (B.A.D.), a dancing healing method for trauma survivors.

About two months into filming Edwards, the “big rape reveal” social media post occurred. Edwards in a hugely successful social media “rape reveal” post exposed truth behind all of her provocative photo posts. Several years ago, she was brutally raped and fell into a serious depression. She began taking nude photos of herself as a way to reconnect with and reclaim her body. To be honest, at this point I was critical. I understood taking control of your sexuality, but the method of using and posting provocative nude images to heal yourself after a sexual assault? It perplexed me. I was on the fence. Did Edwards go too far? Or maybe the limitations of my upbringing would not allow me to completely accept a woman’s right to full control over her body and image. If I truly believed that women have that right, then why was I having such a hard time with her choice? When Edward’s considered joining The Slut Walk--define this I was forced to learn about Edward’s method and point of view. I now understood it! There was a power in taking back what someone thought they had stolen from you, and redefining it for yourself. Filming Edward’s revisiting the rape scene was a powerful yet tender moment for me as a filmmaker. For me, it's important to unmask the pain underlying the sense of hope that Edwards presents.

I was totally blown away by all responses and followers Edwards received after her post! So many people seemed to not only get where Edwards was coming from, but they also championed her as a bold hero, an innovator and fighter for the rights of women to reclaim their bodies. This re-directed the film towards an exploration of Ballet After Dark (B.A.D.), Edwards’ dance healing method.

Communities formed by women have always interested me, especially those built in response to larger systems of oppression. Yet, as a Woman of Color, I’ve never felt fully at home within the larger feminist movement. I’m leery of the lack of inclusivity and general ignorance of the concept of intesectionality of issues like race, class,which always seems to surface within the movement. Throughout the years that I’ve been filming I’ve watched Tyde also grapple with the decision about whether or not to align herself and her mission--with some of the larger feminist movements like the “Pussyhat Project” or the “Amber Rose SlutWalk”. At the present time, she’s decided to make the smaller classroom size group her foundation. Filming the B.A.D. classes excites me, because of the intimacy formed between the women. Even in a city like Baltimore, with so much media attention around racial issues, discrimination and division, the women in class come together on a regular basis with a singular focus in mind--healing themselves from trauma. It’s powerful to witness the vulnerability and caring among women, who might not otherwise speak or even share the same space with one another, all being led by Tyde, a younger Woman of Color. Her carefree spirit and willingness to go public with her story are what seem to draw her following and hold the group together. I feel that smaller more intimate groups like B.A.D. can serve as a powerful way to get beyond the things that divide women, and move them closer together on the issues that they may have in common, like trauma and sexual assault.

Yet, Tyde is so obviously not perfect. It doesn't take long to realize that she herself is basically still in the process of healing. She has some very obvious and more subtle flaws to contend with which do present obstacles in the way of her goal of making B.A.D. a viable brand and company, like over dependence on marijuana, inconsistency, not always following through, lack of focus, and unresolved issues with her family. This makes her story all the more interesting to me, because it offers the possibility of capturing a life in the process of being. It seems as if so many stories have been told on the other side of success, after the achievements have been made and the status, fame and validation have been given. Any struggles then become a matter of history and reflection. This seems easy and boring. In this film, I try to catch someone in the process of becoming, of using what they preach to fight for who they would like to be.

This film is basically about a Woman of Color who re-directed her pain, and used her talent and ingenuity to create a powerful method of dance healing for trauma survivors. While she inspires and is admired by many, she is flawed. In so many ways, she’s still a work in progress. Many times she herself seems to need the very of community and healing she teaches just as much as her students. Yet, I tell her story because being flawed doesn’t take away your power to be an instrument of change. In fact, witnessing a flawed hero inspires us all. For it shows us by example that you don't have to be perfect to change the world.

The story is told in three interwoven parts and spaces: B.A.D. classes; Edward’s private life away from the students and followers; and the rape and the unresolved pain it has left behind. It is told through a feminist lens. It is raw and gritty, exposing the flawed nature of Edwards and the reality behind healing from trauma. Yet Edwards high energy and strong determination give it all a sense of hope.