The African American Dance Company will perform at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Monroe County Public Library. The performance is part of IU's Black History Month celebration.
Audience members can expect to see jamming and Africanist ways of moving they may find familiar at the concert, Director Stafford Berry said. He said he hopes they can engage in a kinesthetic and spiritual way.
“Audiences will hopefully be able to move vicariously with what they experience on stage,” Berry said.
The African American Dance Company is an ensemble in the African American Arts Institute. The company is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students as well as members of the company’s community who have stayed involved over the years.
Students can join the ensemble as part of a course through the African American and African Diaspora Studies department.
Berry said the ensemble's dance styles fall under what is considered black dance and African Diaspora dance forms. This can range from traditional African dances to hip hop to contemporary forms, he said.
Berry said teaching these dance styles has immediate importance for students of color on IU’s campus and in North America — places he said are seen as white spaces.
“When these brown and black bodies enter these spaces and engage in a particular discourse like dance, they can come into this class and see and feel themselves reflected in the course content,” he said. “For me, that’s paramount.”
TyraRose Nibbs, IU freshman and member of the dance company, said dance brings the group together, but they also have conversations about current events during rehearsal.
The dance company is exceptional because they are integrating their culture into dance, Nibbs said.
“Although dance is what we project and that’s what we do in our performances, African American dance roots from your history and how your body has been a part of the storytelling of your life,” she said.
The company and the dance styles are also important for improved education, Berry said. There are different ways of learning and knowing, dance being one of them, he said.
Nibbs said audiences should expect to be taken out of their comfort zones but in a good way. Many people don’t think they know what African dance is, but there is no right answer to what it is, she said.
IU-Bloomington’s Black History Month celebration reflects the phrase “Black and Free,” according to the official IU website.
Berry said the performance ensemble reflects this idea by allowing people to live vicariously through their dancing. He said he hopes people can experience being black and free no matter what color you are.
Nibbs said she hopes the audience will understand how the dancers' culture affects their day-to-day lives. She said the company will be able to bring their culture and values into the dance, and people will take away from the concert that all types of dances are valid.
“If you have a body, you can dance,” she said.
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