In a powerful interpretation of Elizabeth Eckford’s historic walk to school in 1957, dancer Kendi Jones moves gracefully along a sidewalk. “The First Day” is shot in black-and-white to mimic the iconic photographs of Eckford as she passed through crowds of angry White students, teachers, and community members on her way into a formerly segregated school. Eckford was part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of Black students who were the first to integrate Central High in Arkansas’s capital. They were initially barred from the institution until an intervention from President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Directed by Barnaby Roper, the short film captures Jones’s elegant movements and freezes them in time. As she shifts into her next position, a bit of her form appears left behind like a cloud of particles. To watch more of Roper’s experimental projects, head to Vimeo.