Evaluation: The Adinkra Venture’s blended invoice celebrated a unique type of revolution


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Photo by Alex D. Rogers

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Dance firm Adinkra Venture’s program Revolutionary Tales, at Windmill Arts Middle over the weekend, was revolutionary in surprising methods. All six new works expressed not the revolution of politics and protest so acquainted lately, however the radical journey towards self-love, acceptance and empowerment.

Primarily based in Atlanta, Adinkra is simply three years outdated. It's led by founder N.K. Condua, an American born of Ghanaian mother and father. The corporate identify displays his heritage: Adinkra is an alphabet of symbols utilized by the Akan folks of Ghana to mark materials, pottery and different surfaces. The circles, triangles, hearts and half-moons of this distinctive writing system dance on the web page, a becoming inspiration for the Adinkra Venture dancers as they created shapes in house and a chic manner for Condua to honor his heritage. Ghanaian hospitality was on faucet Sunday too — the primary 45 minutes consisted of a cocktail hour with free drinks, whereas artisans bought jewellery and cloth creations.

Photo by Alex D. Rogers
Condua graduated from Morehouse Faculty in 2015 with a bachelor’s diploma in English and continued his research within the Clark Atlanta College graduate program. (Photograph by Alex D. Rogers)

Sunday afternoon’s efficiency opened with Jysenia Nurse standing alone heart stage in a easy black gown and black and white Oxford faucet sneakers. She barely acknowledged the viewers as she executed just a few sluggish heel stamps. Rapidly she upped the tempo, resulting in a fierce flurry of superbly delivered rhythms, all improvised.

Her percussive monologue grew to become a duet when Morgan Lett entered and confronted her, singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Was it anger that fueled Nurse’s wiry vitality? No matter it was, it marked the start of a dynamic afternoon of primarily up to date dance.

Nurse walked off the stage with out acknowledging the viewers. She wasn’t alone. The dancers didn’t provide bows or ask for viewers acclaim till all of the works had been carried out, one other indication that this was a program the place self-expression was extra vital than performative ritual.

Second on this system was Cries Unheard, a recent work for six feminine dancers by choreographer Xavier DeMar. The dancers started by standing collectively in a decent circle, fluid torsos and head rolls rippling because the vitality flowed from one to the opposite across the circle. Later, in a single highly effective gesture, three of them every put a hand to her throat as if throttling a cry, or maybe the other — discovering her voice.

A video dialog with choreographer and CalArts alumna Whitney S. Jackson preceded her We Are Who We Are. She was impressed, she stated, by the concept of dwelling within the second, simply as we're.

It might have been troublesome to establish the message with out the introduction, though there was loads of emotion expressed. At one level, two dancers supported each other, trembling as if in tears. Neighborhood was invoked when the dancers briefly held palms or linked arms. Jackson’s motion vocabulary included deep aspect lunges and massive, daring phrases that ate up the house.

Michaela J.’s Revolutionary Tales featured 4 dancers in white. They started seated on chairs, respiratory as if in meditation. The motion phrases that adopted weren't significantly distinctive, however the message right here was clear. The narrated accompaniment known as for tolerance in a multi-racial, multi-gender, interfaith world.

Michaela J. additionally choreographed Being the Different, a solo for Keith Asberry set to “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green,” the track of self-acceptance, no matter pores and skin colour, made well-known by Kermit the Frog in 1970 and sung right here by Ray Charles.

Photo by Autumn AlexanderPhoto by Autumn Alexander
The corporate in “Mercy” (Photograph by Autumn Alexander)

The ultimate work on this system was Condua’s Mercy for all 9 dancers within the firm. Nurse was once more excellent, each for her clear method and daring supply. Within the opening video Condua defined that he misplaced his father and grandmother inside two years of each other, and the second part of the three-part work delved into that grief. The ultimate part was an up-tempo celebration mixing up to date dance with phrases from a playful Ghanaian social dance known as kpanlogo. Shifting to the thrilling rhythm of African drums, the dancers stayed low to the bottom, knees bent, their naked toes in concord in opposition to the ground.

This emphasis on footwork introduced us again full circle to the faucet solo that opened this system. Using footwork and rhythm in each works traced an historic through-line of dance types from West Africa to the US. And it underscored the worth of honoring each previous and current in an individual’s and other people’s identification.

Within the choreographed bows on the finish, the ladies had been all hips and shoulders and sass, the boys bare-chested and proud. A joyful ending to a program that didn’t break a lot new floor in motion language however, maybe extra importantly, celebrated the revolutionary high quality of self-acceptance and empowerment.


Gillian Anne Renault has been an ArtsATL contributor since 2012 and was named Senior Editor for Artwork+Design and Dance in 2021. She has coated dance for the Los Angeles Each day Information, Herald Examiner and Ballet Information, and on radio stations reminiscent of KCRW, the NPR affiliate in Santa Monica, California. A few years in the past, she was awarded an NEA Fellowship to attend American Dance Competition’s Dance Criticism program.

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