New Waves! AYITI Retrospective #11: La Saline

New Waves! AYITI Rencontre/Bridging and TESTIMONY w/local EXADANS Community in Jacmel, Haiti on the evening of Sunday, 27 July 2014.  With performance by Jean-Aurel Maurice, Christopher Walker, Dasha Chapman, Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire, Adeola Dewis, Anthony Summer Minerva, Shaina Hamby, Kelly Lajeunesse, Michael Mortley, Amanda Ruiz, Catherine Denecy, Brittany Williams, Ruban Joseph, Sylvia Cayetano, and Gran Lakou. Accompaniment by Fritzner Alexandre, Edgard Marc and Dimitri. Photographs by Maria Nunes, New Waves! Photographer-in-Residence. 

This performance was made possible in partnership with Exadans. 

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With closed eyes, I am there. Again. 

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Music by Fritzner Alexandre, Edgard Marc and Dimitri - Accompanists for New Waves! AYITI in Jacmel. This class recording was made at Exadans, the dance studio home of Haitian artist, Jean-Aurel Maurice on 25 July 2014. Heard singing, is Yonel Charles, Artistic Director of Gran Lakou and company members. Photograph by Maria Nunes, New Waves! Photographer-in-Residence. Let’s Dance!

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What is Second Line? Why is it called Second Line? When does it take place within the community? What is the significance of the Second Line as it pertains to the economics of the black communities? Who is allowed to participate in this celebratory event? What brings about the impulse of the movement?

New Waves! AYITI opened up in a way that validated what Second Line culture represents in both the classroom and during the Second Line presented the following morning. Line by line dancers proceeded across the floor of the Exadans studio with a communal sense - evoking spirit, embracing African spirituality, community interaction, spontaneity, and transformation in connection to celebratory expressions. I demonstrated the movement of the aesthetics as I have lived it and allowed the participates line by line to articulate the movement for themselves inside of the style. It was amazing! It was communal! It was celebratory! It was time for Second Line Baby!

The following morning, New Waves! prepared the space and arranged for the brass band I followed in a funeral procession earlier in the week to be present. I am indeed thankful. The community dressed in white, led by The Charles Band. I represented the Grand Marshall with Makeda Thomas and Chris Walker escorting and supporting this engagement. In New Orleans, a traditional procession attached to a Jazz funeral begins with a dirge of old hymns / spirituals. In Jacmel, the musicians directed by trumpet player and Jacmel native, Chris Ernst, played a melody of traditional Haitian classics followed by the Rara sounds of festival music (Panama ‘M Tombe, Haiti Cherie, Belle Haiti and Kote Moun Yo. As we walked and swayed to the sweet sounds of what musician Chris Ernst described as “authentic Haitian Jazz”, I could feel a meditative peace and a sense of thankful resonating within the space. We transitioned together as a community carrying ancestral and celebratory traditions.

"

— Michelle Gibson, MFA
Choreographer, Educator, Performing Artist

Studio Session of “Second Line Aesthetic” with Guest Artist, Michelle Gibson on Sunday, 27 July at Exadans. All images by Maria Nunes, New Waves! Photographer-in-Residence. 

Second Line Aesthetic with Michelle Gibson

A unique class taught in informal settings, the studio and through procession in Jacmel. Gibson’s “second line aesthetic” involves improvised movement, brass music and the embrace of communal ritual. We examine how specific movements like bucking, musical instrumentation like brass band compositions, and the improvisations of community members are central aspects of Second Line Aesthetic. We will process from Africa, through the Caribbean and into Congo Square through an exploration of New Orleans dance history and dance with live musicians. 

Michelle N. Gibson  Choreographer, educator, and performing artist, received her BFA in Dance from Tulane University and her MFA in Dance from Hollins University/ the American Dance Festival at Duke University. A native of New Orleans, Michelle is currently a freelance artist, adjunct professor at Brookhaven College, artist in residence with the South Dallas Cultural Center and Artistic Director for the Dallas Youth Repertory Project and Exhibit Dance Collective. For four years, Michelle has been on the faculty of the American Dance Festival. She has also been on faculty with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer Intensive in New York. Michelle has also conducted numerous master classes, intensives, scholarship auditions, and lecture demonstrations throughout the U.S. with a focus on Afro-Modern techniques and Traditional New Orleans Second Line aesthetic.  Michelle has toured and performed throughout Germany and Japan. In 2013 Michelle was awarded a NPN (National Performance Network) Creation Fund Grant. She is presently working in collaboration with composer Jason Davis, dramaturge Jonathan Norton and film maker Lauren Wood on a one women dance theater work entitled, Takin’ It To The Roots. The work explores and investigates the ancestral and improvisational impulse of the New Orleans black community as it pertains to the traditional dance of New Orleans, the Second Line. This one women work will be accompanied by a live brass band supporting the true essence of the culture. The performance work will premiere in 2015 in Dallas TX and in New Orleans in 2016, leading up to residencies and performances throughout the US and aboard. Michelle’s greatest achievement in life is being the mother artist of two beautiful children. 

"Identifying with New Waves’ philosophy of bringing together and engaging a community of scholars and dance artists, facilitating conversations, lectures, and technique workshops centering on the preservation of the Diaspora as it pertains to contemporary art-forms was indeed a pleasure to be a part of this summer. I found myself submerged and surrounded by energies that supported my pedagogical and performance based research on Second Line Aesthetics. My desire to share the historical and communal traditions of my beloved New Orleanian culture manifested back to the roots and origins within my spirit while being in Haiti…Who knew I would have ever been given the opportunity to buckjump on Haitian soil? A soil that helped to fertilize the roots of New Orleans tradition, history, and culture!"

— Michelle Gibson, New Waves! AYITI Guest Artist

Early Monday morning, on the 28th of July 2014, New Waves! AYITI gathered for a second line in Jacmel, Haiti. This marked the culminating session of Michelle Gibson’s “Second Line Aesthetic” for New Waves! AYITI. Previously explored in the studio at Jean Aurel-Maurice’s Exadans, the procession was a high point in Gibson’s process, a “dream come true”. Video by Maria Nunes.

Second Line Aesthetic involves improvised movement, brass music and the embrace of communal ritual. We examine how specific movements like bucking, musical instrumentation like brass band compositions, and the improvisations of community members are central aspects of Second Line Aesthetic. We will process from Africa, through the Caribbean and into Congo Square through an exploration of New Orleans dance history and dance with live musicians. 

Documentation of music in traditional forms is a special area of interest to Maria Nunes, New Waves! AYITI Photographer-in-Residence. She took the opportunity to capture video of Michelle Gibson’s collaboration with Charles Ernst’s band in Jacmel as part of her interest in the conversations and connections that music enables across and within cultures. She was particularly interested to see what melodic and rhythmic parallels there were in the music played by Charles Ernst’s band to early 20th century calypso music of Trinidad and Tobago. http://www.marianunes.com/.

Second Line Aesthetic with Michelle Gibson

A unique class taught in informal settings, the studio and through procession in Jacmel. Gibson’s “second line aesthetic” involves improvised movement, brass music and the embrace of communal ritual. We examine how specific movements like bucking, musical instrumentation like brass band compositions, and the improvisations of community members are central aspects of Second Line Aesthetic. We will process from Africa, through the Caribbean and into Congo Square through an exploration of New Orleans dance history and dance with live musicians. 

Michelle N. Gibson  Choreographer, educator, and performing artist, received her BFA in Dance from Tulane University and her MFA in Dance from Hollins University/ the American Dance Festival at Duke University. A native of New Orleans, Michelle is currently a freelance artist, adjunct professor at Brookhaven College, artist in residence with the South Dallas Cultural Center and Artistic Director for the Dallas Youth Repertory Project and Exhibit Dance Collective. For four years, Michelle has been on the faculty of the American Dance Festival. She has also been on faculty with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer Intensive in New York. Michelle has also conducted numerous master classes, intensives, scholarship auditions, and lecture demonstrations throughout the U.S. with a focus on Afro-Modern techniques and Traditional New Orleans Second Line aesthetic.  Michelle has toured and performed throughout Germany and Japan. In 2013 Michelle was awarded a NPN (National Performance Network) Creation Fund Grant. She is presently working in collaboration with composer Jason Davis, dramaturge Jonathan Norton and film maker Lauren Wood on a one women dance theater work entitled, Takin’ It To The Roots. The work explores and investigates the ancestral and improvisational impulse of the New Orleans black community as it pertains to the traditional dance of New Orleans, the Second Line. This one women work will be accompanied by a live brass band supporting the true essence of the culture. The performance work will premiere in 2015 in Dallas TX and in New Orleans in 2016, leading up to residencies and performances throughout the US and aboard. Michelle’s greatest achievement in life is being the mother artist of two beautiful children. 

New Waves! AYITI Retrospective #3: “It is the Blood That Dances: Our Bodies, Our Source” with Brittany Williams

This is the last in a series of academic research papers presented during New Waves! AYITI. On Tuesday, 29 July, Brittany Williams, a recent graduate of Miami Dade College presented “It is the Blood That Dances: Our Bodies, Our Source” at Hotel Oloffson. Williams shares this introduction on her research:

In African Art in Motion, the author Robert Thompson restates an account of a Kongo Taxi driver explaining the African connection to their ancestors. “Our ancestors gave us these dances, we cannot forget them. It is our blood that dances.” 

The goal of this project is to provide an alternative way for addressing African memory retention in the Trinidad Orisha practice. In this project, I source the Trinidadian African body as the primary resource for storing, altering, releasing, healing and retaining past knowledge and traumas of their African ancestors. Orisha devotees in Trinidad were able to recall genetic memories, which allowed them [Africans] to recall Orisha relics from their homeland and resolve past traumatic experiences, and use their ancient practices and resolutions as a foundation for new customs and traditions indigenous to Trinidad (Irobi, 2007). These cellular or genetic memories are coined in this research as an ancestral language system, a language that exists within the DNA. 

I argue, through the act of trance dance, the body uses the ancestral language system to excavate and produce bodily reports of artifacts that come in forms of parables, memory, symbols, manifestations, visions, and signs. Does the Ancestral language system sustain and connect the Orisha community in Trinidad to African antecedents and sources of knowledge, and history? Ultimately the ancestral language system prescribes the African body a central archive of the New World African civilization. Trance dance serves as the key to unlocking a library of alternative angles for examining African memory retention and resolution for traumatic experiences. Trance dance is the source to healing and releasing information and language from the memory stored in DNA.

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New Waves! AYITI Retrospective #2: signs of new goodness & spirit

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et les calebasses douces au creux des mains d’offrande une nouvelle bonté ne cesse de croître à l’horizon

- “New Goodness” by Aimé Césaire, Martiniquan poet of the Negritude Movement

New Waves! AYITI traveled to Martissant on the afternoon of Thursday, 30 July 2014 to visit Parc de Martissant, home of the Katherine Dunham Cultural Center. Look at the signs, Jessica instructed. Even if you don’t understand. Just look at them. In respect, we look. We look as Ronald, our tour guide at Parc de Martissant, gives detailed information on the plants and flowers growing in this Port au Prince oasis. Calabash, mint, hibiscus flower, ginger flower, ceries, cabbage, frangipani, basil, thyme, cedar and fan palms are among them. We look as Chris Walker demonstrates how to remove the sweet stem inside the honeysuckle flower. 

We learn more about the architect Albert Mangonès, who with his wife, Vonik Mangonès “built, lived, created, animated this space, this house, this garden” within the now Parc de Martissant. Albert Mangonès is also the creator of the famous 1968 sculpture “Le Maron Inconnu”, or “Nèg Mawon”, made in tribute to the maroons of the Haitian Revolution. He is a significant figure, whose history is shared with equal reverence as that given for the plants and flowers, and for the January 12, 2010 earthquake victims whose lives are memorialized here. We take a deep, long look at a poem by Haiti’s most respected humanitarian and political activist: Jean-Claude Bajeaux. “Espace Caraibe”, from Bajeaux’s 1997 book “Textures”, offers a cosmic look at the relationship between the land, sea, plants and people of Haiti. 

Finally, we make our way over to The Katherine Dunham Cultural Center. Katherine Dunham is important to this group of artists. For many, she is the entry into Caribbean dance. Three participants - Michelle Murray, Michelle Gibson and Brittany Williams - have recently returned from the Dunham Technique Seminar in St. Louis, Missouri. For many still, particularly those from the Caribbean, the point of entry is a shared geo-cultural historiography with Haiti. But that entry is flanked by an awareness that we, too, are viewed as blanc. And Katherine Dunham is significant for being one who transformed from a blanc to being loved and revered in Haiti. For all, she is a major figure of black dance - dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, ethnochoreologist, cultural ambassador, educator, social activist, and writer. 

“..a radiantly beautiful woman whose warmth and sense of self spread like honey on the paths before her.”

- “How Katherine Dunham Revealed Black Dance to the World” by Jennifer Dunning, New York Times, May 23, 2006

The Katherine Dunham Cultural Center is located on the site of Katherine Dunham’s former home. She lived there after living at and establishing a resort at Habitation Leclerc (located across the road). This home was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake and unlike Parc de Martissant, which features remnants and pieces of homes destroyed in the earthquake in its design, nothing remained. In its place, is a seismic resource center being developed by a local NGO called FOKAL(La Fondation Connaissance et Liberté/Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libète). It features a library, offices and a media center. There is no dance studio or theatre here. The pièce de résistance is the Medicinal Plant Garden honoring “St. Katherine’s” (as Ronald refers to her) legacy as a healer and sponsor of a small medical clinic in Haiti. Many of the same plants Ronald pointed out earlier are also in this garden. The plants are, according to the architectural firm handling the project, arranged in groups for each part of the body.  And it becomes even clearer that it was by knowing the plants, the flowers, the fruits, the land, the people, by investing time here in Haiti, that Katherine Dunham achieved sainthood.

"Jesus was the biggest hoodoo ever."

- Dr. Joan Burroughs

In a key-shaped area of the medicinal garden, we settle for Joan Burroughs’ second talk for New Waves! AYITI - “Accessing Spirit: Models & Visions”. Spirit, she says, is a language, of which we are all embedded with the capacity to practice. The process of going to church, creating an altar, getting a reading - all are methods of accessing spirit. It can manifest when we dance, or “when I write” (Thomas DeFrantz), or through the visioning and creation of New Waves! as Joan graciously credited. And we all have that capacity, she reminds us. We are all special. In a gust of wind, hundreds of white flower petals rain down us. It is followed by small, delicate drops of rain. In that light rain, Joan sends out a call for us to collect stories of spirit; of how we access spirit. I look. I look at the people surrounding me knowing we have this shared experience of New Waves! as one of those stories. Ayibobo!

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New Waves! AYITI Retrospective #1: Giving Thanks

New Waves! Institute Founding Director, Makeda Thomas, in a brief talk with New Waves! AYITI participants on the morning of Wednesday, 30 July at Hotel Oloffson:

There are many people who made New Waves! AYITI possible. There is so much to give thanks for. New Waves! AYITI programs in Port au Prince were made possible in collaboration and partnership with Haiti Cultural Exchange, Ecole Nacional des Artes, Centre de Danse Compagnie Jean-Rene Delsoin, and Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute. We give thanks to Regine Roumain, Philipe Dodard, Gerda Boigunené Samson, Erol Josue, Daniel Morel, Emerante des Pradines, Richard Morse and RAM for sharing their stage with us on our Opening Night, Miguel, Stephanie Scherpf, Patricia and the entire staff of Hotel Oloffson.

New Waves! AYITI programs in Jacmel were made possible in collaboration and partnership with Jacmel Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industries (MTIC), Ms. Dithny Joan Raton,the Regional Director of MTCI, Lydie Krauchi, FOSAJ - Fanal Otantik Sant D’A Jakmel, Gran Lakou, and Exadans - Espace Xaragua pour la danse. We give thanks to Yonel Charles, Jean Aurel-Maurice, Luckner ”Prince Luc” Candio, Jean, James Beaubrun, Yves, Billete, and the entire staff at Hotel Florita. We even thank Dieufel Lamisere and Dance to Save Lives. We all had a role to play on this journey and I give thanks for every aspect of it. I’ve learned so much.

We give thanks for the Magic and Power of Haiti. We give thanks for the Ancestors, the Orisha, the Goddesses and Gods, the Spirits, the Lwa for giving Joan the dance of vitality; for the grace and empowerment of ephebism in our midst.  We give thanks to those same spirits for bringing Summer back. For bringing Summer forward with us as we continue our journey.  We give thanks for the women whose hands have prepared our meals and filled our bellies. We give thanks for the wait of their delicious food; for we can be patient, because are fortunate and have eaten plenty. We give thanks for finding a way to provide food to our entire community - local and international - despite limited resources. We give thanks for our safe journeys throughout Haiti - around town in Port au Prince, up to Petionville, to Jacmel and on our return to Port au Prince; as we joined the Kanaval des Fleurs yesterday. We give thanks. We give thanks and in our gratitude asked to be returned safely to our homes across the globe.

How are we returning? How have we changed? As individuals and as an Institute? What are some of the questions we have that will open up new futures unimaginable before this experience?

How do we maintain cultural specificity in a diasporic space that enables connection and collaboration? What are our strategies for fostering an environment of respect while challenging the systems of imperialisation and colonization that prevent critical discourse?

What are the possibilities for an ongoing partnership with Haitian dance communities? How can New Waves! contribute to the shared development and education of dancers, teachers and researchers throughout the Caribbean diaspora in Haiti?

How has New Waves! maintained its core as a site of experimentation and creativity; as a site of myth-making and reality checking? What has been the social value of shared meals during New Waves!? Of all the informal talks? Of our travels together? How do we, as individuals, fit into the matrix of what this experience has been for the collective?

How does New Waves! engage professional faculty whose work reflect its pedagogical philosophy of care and building community in and out of the studio space? How does New Waves! continue to be a safe space for all while moving through a Caribbean region currently in heated dialogue on the rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer people?

How does New Waves!, as an organization, sustain its programs while remaining independent and autonomous? What are the expectations of an international collective and dance artists and scholars interested in the diasporic studies? What is our call?

How have we answered? What are some questions you have? What are you thankful for?

New Waves! AYITI AUGUST RETROSPECTIVE

I’m situated in Trinidad & Tobago again, having arrived in Port of Spain from Port au Prince the night before Emancipation. Tomorrow, 1 August, is the celebration of the emancipation of enslaved Africans in Trinidad. The nation celebrates Independence at the end of the month - on 31 August. So, we’re in a month that begins with Emancipation and ends with Independence. Good metaphorical space. As New Waves! AYITI was an ocean of movement, ideas, questions, emotions, perspectives, positions, processes, situations  - all happening more quickly than possible to post online -  we’re dedicating the month of August to a DIGITAL NEW WAVES! AYITI RETROSPECTIVE. We’ll go backwards - beginning with our final day in Haiti - as we go forward in the month. The RETROSPECTIVE will feature writings, photographs and videos taken during New Waves! AYITI, in a looking back and unpacking of our two-week journey together. 

I will contribute two essays, "Repairing Spines" and "Talk to Me in Goude" during the Retrospective. We’ve asked Artist-in-Residence Adeola Dewis and Artist-in-Residence, Michelle Murray to contribute essays on their projects. Photographer-in-Residence, Maria Nunes is currently editing loads of photographs and videos. We’ll share those as they come. We’ve already shared a video of a Second Line in Jacmel led by Guest Artist, Michelle Gibson. A new version is currently being edited. Gibson will also follow up with a post on her ongoing research of the “Second Line Aesthetic”. We’ll feature posts on some of our partners, Jean Aurel Maurice, Gran Lakou’s Yonel Charles, and Jean Appolon. There’s so much to share and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to not only extend the experience of New Waves! AYITI in this way, but share it with all the people who supported us.  

Let’s Dance!

Makeda Thomas
Founding Director

Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute and New Waves! Institute Collaboration

New Waves! AYITI is pleased to partner with the Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute on a series of programs for New Waves! AYITI. The 2014 Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute is an intensive dance program that provides a comprehensive and high quality dance curriculum to participating students during the month of July. Learn more here:  http://jeanappolonexpressions.org/dance-haiti/summer-2014/

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 The New Waves! AYITI programme of events will include:

Thursday, 17 July 
10am to 11:30am
CONTEMPORARY DANCE with Makeda Thomas
*for Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute students

Friday, 18 July 
4pm to 6pm
AFRO-HAITIAN with Jean Appolon
at Hotel Oloffson

Friday, 18 July 
TALK with Jean Appolon, Artistic Director and Emerante de Pradines
at Hotel Oloffson

In addition to being the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) founded in 2011, Jean Appolon is a successful choreographer and master teacher based in Boston and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Appolon received his training and performance opportunities in Port-au-Prince with the Viviane Gauthier Dance Company and the Folkloric Ballet of Haiti. Appolon continued his dance education in the U.S. at the Harvard and Radcliffe Dance Program (1995-1996, Boston, MA), Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Joffrey American Ballet School, where he graduated with a B.A. from a joint degree program offered by The New School. Jean Appolon teaches dance at Boston Ballet, UMASS Boston and The Dance Complex (Cambridge, MA), among other locations. Beginning in 2006, Appolon conceived and has since directed a free annual summer dance course in Port-au-Prince that serves young, aspiring Haitian dancers who do not have regular access to dance training. Appolon’s vision is to expand the summer course into a year-round dance program based in Port-au-Prince. Appolon’s Boston-based Haitian Contemporary dance company has performed both at major venues such as Boston’s Paramount Theater and John Hancock Hall, as well as in city parks and community spaces in free performances. JAE also has performed at many schools and colleges, including American University, Boston University, Dartmouth College, Dean College, Harvard University, Lesley College, Northeastern University and Wheaton College. JAE has been fortunate to share the stage with celebrities such as Danny Glover, Henry Louis Gates and Edwidge Danticat, and to collaborate with community partners such as Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) and Central Square Theater. Jean Appolon has received funding support from The Kellogg Foundation, FOKAL, Haiti’s Ministry of Culture, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Cambridge Arts Council, The Boston Foundation, Eastern Bank and many individual donors. Appolon is an Inductee of the Haitian Roundtable’s 1804 List of Haitian American Changemakers (2014) for his groundbreaking accomplishments in dance. Appolon received the 2013 Green Street Studios New Works Program Award. Also in 2013, Appolon was nominated for a Brother Thomas Fellowship (awarded by The Boston Foundation), and honored by The Art of Black Dance and Music.  Appolon has been the subject of feature articles and interviews in The Boston Globe, Dance Studio Life Magazine, World Vision Report. The Boston Haitian Reporter, Le Nouvelliste and NPR.

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New Waves! AYITI begins in 2 weeks!  Each year, participants share the incredible impact New Waves! has on their lives. So we’re very much looking forward to this exciting new journey in Jacmel and Port au Prince, Haiti.

We’re pleased to announce our funding campaign on Indiegogo. Funding for New Waves! 2014 - AYITI will help support participants, as well as continue our Scholarship Program so that local Haitian students can participate in the Institute for FREE!

Our fundraising campaign will also allow us to donate funds to Project St. Anne, a 501(c)(3) organization that hosts an annual event, the Feast of St. Anne. Inhabitants of Camp Perrin are provided with food and other much needed supplies. This year, New Waves! AYITI will partner with Project St. Anne to assist with this event on July 26, 2014.

With your support, we can provide our local and international participants with an amazing dance program, support a nonprofit organization in its aims to improve its community in Haiti, and contribute to the already rich cultural fabric of Haiti’s dance sector and local economy.  Help make New Waves! AYITI a success! Contribute here:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-waves-2014-ayiti Give Thanks! Let’s Dance!

Jean-René Delsoin joins New Waves! AYITI Faculty/COMPAGNIE DE DANSE Partnership

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The Dance & Performance Institute is pleased to offer Contemporary Haitian Dance with Jean-René Delsoin for New Waves! AYITI, to be held 17 to 31 July in Jacmel and Port au Prince, Haiti. Jean-René Delsoin’s class fuses Haitian traditional dances and music with ideas and techniques from American modern and contemporary dance. In further partnership with the Dance & Performance Institute, Delsoin’s Centre et Compagnie de Danse, located at 75, Rue Clerveaux in Pétionville, Port au Prince will serve as one of the sites for New Waves! AYITI. 

MORE ABOUT COMPAGNIE DE DANSE JEAN-RENÉ DELSOIN

October 2014 marks Dancer-Choreographer Jean-René Delsoin’s 27th year of service to dance performance and instruction in Haiti. Born in Port-au-Prince, Mr. Delsoin began dance studies in Haiti, followed by training at the National School Dance of Jamaica, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center among other prestigious institutions. His international dance credits include appearances with American choreographer Kevin Iega Jeff’s Jubilations!, and a two-year Latin American tour with Dominican singer Angela Carrasco. In 1987, Mr. Delsoin founded and co-directed Artcho Danse Repertoire and its affiliate school. Then in 2004, he ventured out on his own to form the Jean-René Delsoin Dance Center, as well as a company project now called the Compagnie de Danse Jean-René (COJRD). COJRD brings the richness of cultural expression and dances in Haiti to the world. It aims to bridge diverse communities worldwide by creating and producing dances of the highest level of artistry and versatility. For Mr. Delsoin, dance is as borderless as the dancing body is both particular and universal. Dance is accessible to all: its messages resonate in Haiti and in all reaches of the globe. Over fifty works by Mr. Delsoin and five choreographers from Haïti and abroad utilize modern, jazz and contemporary dance techniques alongside traditional Haitian dance. These dance performances explore quotidian practices and concerns in Haiti alongside universal themes. The fusion of techniques in COJRD champions the vision of a contemporary Haitian who nurtures his traditions and mores while living in the present and embracing what the future holds. In addition to monthly Dance Thursdays performances, and educational activities in Haiti, COJRD has represented Haiti at the the Biennale de la Danse Martinique and the World Expo in Shanghai, China in 2010. In October 2012, COJRD toured the United States for one month as part of Center Stage, an exchange program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Learn more at http://www.jeanrenedelsoin.com.

Let’s Dance!