Howard University’s annual spring dance concert, held this weekend at the Ira Aldridge Theater, brings forth emerging artists. In collaboration with The Washington Ballet’s Studio Company, the concert titled Drift portrays the connection of our past to the present. Seven pieces total, from world renowned choreographers, all simulate the importance of dance to life.
Jamal Story, an astounding choreographer from Los Angeles, culminates The Body of Color in My Voice, inclusive of six female students. Ariarna Odom swifty takes precedence with outstretched arms and promenades arabesque as Melissa Harris Perry’s voice emanates. The piece, inspired by a 2013 interview between Melissa Harris Perry(Intellectualist) and Bell Hooks (Social Activist) discovers the Black Woman’s Body through the translation of voice and movement. The “…rhetorical, dissection of her into parts. They weren’t talking about her, they were talking about her body,” vividly portrays people’s perception of black women.
The black body continues to be dissected, as the students dance from Assane Konte’s Akon Kon African piece to Junious Brickhouse’s All Thing’s 360. Before slavery existed in America, the dance of spirit eluded through the drumbeat, with bright colors and rhythmic feet shown in Akon Kon. Through the passage of time, we exist for equality and bring forth a “house” funk to commemorate the times. Paris Jones, a senior dance major, and Raechelle Ellison groove in All Things 360 amongst their peers fully showing how circuitous life is through dance and the history of life (specifically the African-American experience).
The Washington Ballet’s Studio Company performs a true Testament, to the already present theme to the show. Choreographed by Dwight Rhoden (Founding Artistic Director of Complexions), the dancers elongate their bodies through spirituals and the ever so famous musical selection of “Amazing Grace.” Zhenghong Cao and Giselle Macdonald intriguingly paint a canvas of struggle and strive through developpé and cambré. It is obvious this company fully uses their skill of contemporary ballet for a deeper meaning. Clean transitions in partnering, weight transfers and articulated feet embody elite dancers.
Royce Zackery, the Head Coordinator and Choreographer of the Department, constructs H.E.L.P….I Hope. I Endure. I Love. I Persist., as a means of highlighting the beauty in our trials and tribulations. The dancers explore their inner self through abstract movement unknown to the norm, all the while persistent in strife. There is always hope in struggle and an underlier in our connections to people, whether it be a group in the spotlight shown at the start, a solo or even a duet of sorts slowly consorting to life and it’s ideologies.
The emerging artists of Howard University and The Washington Ballet Studio Company speak volumes to their experiences in life. The pressures of society and history are synonymous to our lives and even more so to the artform of dance.
Drift Choreographers: Assane Konte, Vicqueria Smith, Katherine J. Smith, Dwight Rhoden, Royce Zackery, Jamal Story, Junious “House” Brickhouse.
Guest Artist: The Washington Ballet Studio Company.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with a 10-minute intermission.
Howard University Department of Theatre Arts’ DRIFT has one more performance tonight, April 9th, 2016 at 7:30 PM at the Ira Aldridge Theatre – 2455 6th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them at the box office or online.
Howard University’s Spring Dance Concert ‘DRIFT’ on April 8 & 9th.