The number of performers in the film recalled the Seven Powers of Yoruba religion, invoking that even as there are seven individuals, they all moved as one. Campos-Pons frequently references the Seven Powers—Yemayá, Obatalá, Oshún, Oggún, Ochosi, Chango, and Oyá—in her work.
Yemayá– the mother of waters, an ocean goddess who is often pictured as a mermaid
Obatalá – the creator of earth, credited with creating human bodies
Oshún – a river deity, the goddess of sensuality, beauty and love
Ogún – a warrior spirit, known as the god of iron
Ochosi – a hunter, most often depicted with a bow and arrow to signify his wisdom and craftiness
Chango – a “hot” spirit and associated with virility, thunder, and fire
Oyá – the woman warrior spirit of storms, often appearing as a water buffalo or a beautiful woman
In Cuban culture, when one loses something, it is common to make seven knots in a scarf so that the item will be found.
Each performer wore a suffragist-white robe designed by Meg Neville with fabric and dresses contributed by designer Eileen Fisher, referencing the struggle of women in this nation over the last century to reach the monumental moment of a woman’s arrival to the White House.
The saffron color was used to show the vibrancy of passion and power. The Yoruba deity Oshún, the goddess of sensuality, is also often represented dressed in yellow.
Blue, seen punctuating the film, is associated with the Yoruba deity Yemayá. In Catholicism, the Virgin Mary is also often depicted in a blue veil, rendered using expensive stones such as lapis lazuli to signal added veneration.
Owls & Circular Movements
In its circular movements, When We Gather recalled the movement of owls, which can turn their heads all the way around—using the bird as a metaphor for carrying information from the past through to the present. Owls are also nocturnal and are thus associated with the lunar phases, often carrying connections to female spirituality and wisdom.
Lyrics & Poem
The soundscape of When We Gather incorporated both lyrics and a poem written by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs and read by acclaimed actress Alfre Woodard for the project. Diggs wrote the poem in response to Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris’ speech about her mother, who “believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”