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Friday, Dec. 8
The Indiana Daily Student


African American dance & soul

Dancing in a new light

The new Theatre/Neal-Marshall Education Center provides a long overdue home for the African American Dance Company by providing a modern and innovative new studio for the program.\nFor a long time, the company persevered through the poor conditions that "placed many limitations on the program and on the students," Iris Rosa, the dance company's director and associate professor in the department of African American Studies, said. "But we danced anyway. That's what we had to begin with, and that's what we dealt with," she said. \nThe company's new home provides greater rehearsal and project options as well as the opportunity to expand programming in the dance discipline.\nThe African American Dance Company is comprised of up to 25 culturally diverse students. They take part in performances and choreography that are influenced by the cultures, experiences and traditions from Africa and the African diaspora.\nThe African diaspora refers to "what's in the mainland and off the mainland, as African-American slaves impacted the entire world," Rosa said. "(The company) gives a worldly view of dance from an African perspective."\nMembers of the company audition each semester for the class, which rehearses twice a week for three hours. Students learn warm up and movement techniques and learn history in the process.\nBoth the dancers and Rosa are energetic and artistically expressive. Enthusiasm at rehearsals is both praised and inspired by Rosa's intense grasp for dance and instructions, such as, "I want you to feel like the floor is earth!" and "Your thighs are screaming!"\nKathy Allender, a senior who has been in the company for four years, feels that diversity is not only present due to ethnicity, but also due to a wide range of experience, as members come from various backgrounds and levels of dance training. Allender also puts an emphasis on the aesthetic value of the company and the high performance quality it strives for.\n"(The company is) trying to educate through history and African-American tradition," Allender said.\nThe company hosts an annual workshop and a spring concert. The concert will be held April 6 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre on Kirkwood Ave. The workshop features guest performers and choreographers.\n"(It) gives students the opportunity to experience dance from an African-American, African and contemporary pop-culture perspective," Rosa said.\nIn concerts, the company combines influences from modern dance, jazz and ethnic dance.\nCharles E. Sykes, administrative director of the African American Arts Institute since 1991, praises the diversity that the dance company promotes.\n"The Dance Company performs not only for ethnically diverse audiences, but also for socially diverse audiences, different backgrounds and ways people live," Sykes said.\nSykes said the students have a diverse following. He recalled sitting in on the company's spring concert, at which he received praise from a professor who said the audience was more diverse than any other on campus.\nThe ensemble also performs annually at the Stonebelt Center for the mentally and physically challenged. The members take pride in their ability to share their culture and experiences with the larger community and public, as well as with the IU community.\nSykes expects that the new building will play a complementary role in promoting events associated with the culture center because of its novelty.\n"The building will bring recognition and will draw attention to the programs within because of its newness," he said.

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