My Dear Brother Arthur,
Now maybe you are dancing, to the sounds of Adam's drumming, with all of your incredible family & friends who have passed on before you.
Now you are free to fly through the air with the grace of Obatula, or, as I thought of you, with the grace of a white swan in flight. The picture we all know so well of you in your white costume, arms extended, leg out ... so vital, rippling with life.
I see you laughing, laughing so hard at the humor of whatever situation you found yourself in. You took it all in, you loved being around people young and old.
I see you sitting on the stool at the Portsmouth Gaslight, or here at the Waterfront in Camden holding court.
I see you lecturing my daughters late at night about life, boys, dance, and respect for elders. And I see their raised eyes whenever you went on a tangent a bit longer than needed to, to get the point across, after a late night out at the Gaslight. But oh, how they all loved you, and still do. You effected each one of my four daughters in a profound way. My 26 year old daughter, Michelle, reminded me that Arthur taught her how to walk down a ramp when she modeled for the first time at 18 years of age. She had never worn heals much less done the ramp walk. You taught her so well that she was given 10 outfits to model, and the other professionals from Boston and New York were given half as many.
My 6 foot tall, 21 year old daughter, Joy, remembered that Arthur picked her out to be the African Goddess who dusted off the village (entire school) with magic dust, actually baby powder. It was a highlight of her time at Little Harbor! Catherine, my 18 year old wrote these words, "Let Arthur know (his spirit that will be very present) that I love him, and appreciate all he has ever done for me, he's such an amazing being with so much light and energy. He deserves to be rewarded after leading such a fulfilling life, not only for himself, I'm sure, but for so many others who he has touched with his joy, and his caring, and genuine love for all people. Whenever I think of him, all I can see is his gleaming smile and abundant laughter. He was definitely one of my many fathers in my life. I hope he only knows how much he is appreciated. I love him very much." And my youngest daughter, Dawn remembers playing and dancing with Arthur at our house. They all feel so much love for him.
And, Arthur, I see you crawling across the floor in your incredible SNAKE DANCE. I believed you were truly a snake when you took on that persona. I see you dancing to your hearts content at practice sessions at Little Harbor, and I see us trying to follow you, thinking we will surely DIE if you don't stop the session soon. You didn't just try to transform the children in the schools, you drew in the teachers, principals and parents too!
I see you day after day writing for over one month, in the basement of my house in Portsmouth, creating the tribute Ahimsa - Non Violence to Martin Luther King and Ghandi. We parents and teachers played the part of the Assassins because we didn't want to traumatize the children with having to play the part of the murderers. And I see you going through my dress up clothes chest finding all you ever needed for the performances in the New Hampshire Seacoast Schools. We had a joke, "Everything is here, it just needs to be found." The entire City Council came to that performance, and you won the Mayor's Award to the City for authoring that incredible piece in 1991.
When you stayed at my house, you would come home each day and I would ask, "What miracles happened today?" You seemed to uncannily pick the children who were the most rebellious, difficult, or in pain, and made them the leaders that only you knew they could be. I will share only one such story:
When you were working with Pam Felber in the Durham school system, you came home one day after an awesome experience. You reported that you had picked the leader of the "African Tribal Parade" earlier in the week, and, as an aside, just mentioned that the boy happened to be in a wheelchair, fully disabled.
You had been frustrated in working with him the day before and had chastised him because he was acting so passively, and wasn't moving any part of his body to lead the tribe. So, you told him you knew he could at least hold the tribal staff in the air to guide the other children as they pushed the wheelchair, and if he refused to do so, then you wouldn't be able to use him in the performance. He had to go home from school and think about what he wanted to do.
I said, "OH Boy, now You're probably going to tell me he got up and walked for you."
You got tears in your eyes and told me that today his mother came to school and stood in the back to watch, because she wanted to understand what he was doing. And then you said that when you were rehearsing, the young boy moved his chair to the front of the line, put the breaks on, and then stood up and walked a few steps. Everyone was crying! Believe me, I attended the real performance the next night, and watched this proud young man lead the children around the room in his decorated wheelchair, swinging the staff high in the air. Arthur did not let him get up and out of the chair for the performance, but it was still incredible.
You were the magician in our lives. You were the laughing, soulful African American Buddha in my life. God, how much I already miss you.
Children's eyes would radiate when you entered the room. You were the true Pied Piper in their lives and my life. Everyone always said, ARTHUR HALL ARTHUR HALL! Here comes ARTHUR HALL! Your eyes would twinkle with love and a sense of peaceful power, which was infectious.
As his friends Lois and Barry Wells wrote when they petitioned the Mesa Schools this year to name an elementary school after Arthur: "It was clear, however, that Mr. Hall saw his mission very broadly. He frequently spoke and wrote of wanting to serve all humankind, to ease ugliness and hurt, to celebrate the human spirit, and to make regal each move of each human being, regardless of body size, shape, or dancing ability." You would laugh with me when we would talk about racist experiences in our lives, saying, "Too bad others don't know that there is no such thing as 'color' in God's eyes."
Your white altars, covered with flowers, the incense constantly burning which would permeate my home and everyone else's when you came. You were constantly praying for others. We will hold you in our prayers and in the loving light, which radiates throughout our hearts and minds whenever we remember you.
MADASE, MY DEAR BROTHER, rest in peace, but keep dancing and drumming while you're at it.
We Love YOU.
Email: Jennifer Allen