The African American Dance Company’s spring concert will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
The first half of the show is student-led with student groups addressing the theme of confinement based on what it means to them. The theme was inspired by a Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies lecture given by Diana Louis, Ph.D., on the subject of women in asylums and women in ?confinement.
Alexandria Rhodes, a senior in the company who has been a member since her first year at IU, said her group took confinement and came up with the idea of a “tattered circus.” In addition to taking inspiration from injustice in society, they also drew from the show ?“American Horror Story.”
“It’s a commentary on contemporary issues of today,” Rhodes said. “But, it is up to the audience to interpret what tattered circus and the show as a whole means for them.”
The students are broken up into groups strategically by the director of the company Iris Rosa, a professor in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies.
“I like to strategically put people together because people come from different experiences,” Rosa said.
Heterogeneous groups with people from different ages and academic, dance, ethnic and economic experiences create a richer project, Rosa said, because people hear many different perspectives on confinement and are exposed to different types of music.
“If I kept everyone in similar groups, that doesn’t really do anything for them,” Rosa said. “It doesn’t help them learn.”
The second half of the show was choreographed by Rosa, but the theme was a give and take between Rosa and her students.
“I always have a conversation with the students and we always try to reflect what’s happening in the community,” Rosa said.
After recent challenges to the black and Latino communities and the issues with Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Rosa and her students explored the idea of social injustice and police shootings.
This culminated in the decision to represent the issue of “Hands up.”
“You’ll see that reflected in some of the dance movement, so the second piece is called ‘Rising above it,’” Rosa said. “Specifically, what we have to do to rise above it.”
Performing these shows and being a part of this group is an “amazing experience, a unique experience,” Rhodes said. “The company impacts everyone in a different way and there’s something that keeps them coming back.”
“I feel like I need it,” Rhodes said. She said her favorite part of the group is its diversity.
It could also be the most important part, Rosa said.
“I think it’s very important that when people see the company, they see a company representing a multiethnic group,” Rosa said. “The conversation and the focus is about the black diaspora because everyone has to learn. What we do is unlike anything everyone else does on campus.”