Black Movements Dancers Stress History, Current Events
February 7, 2011– Love, peace and politics were explored through dance at Georgetown Feb. 4 and 5 as the university’s Black Movements Dance Theatre performed its Black History Month program.
“One of the primary things I want the students in my class to understand is that dancers are thinkers,” says Alfreda Davis, the group’s artistic director. “We don’t just dance, we tell stories.”
The program, which took place at the Royden B. Davis Performing Arts Center, featured nine short works by faculty members, guest choreographers and students, including “Change: Voices from the Gap,” choreographed by Davis to Sam Cooke’s song “A Change is Gonna Come.”
The dance ended with a tableau of dancers, poised in front of a cascade of projections featuring images and quotes from the civil rights movement.
“With this program, I wanted to maintain the tradition of honoring and celebrating our history but also to lend a voice to our current state of affairs,” Davis says. “This process is about hearing our collective voice – what we want to say as artists and contribute as citizens of the universe.”
Resilience and Power
Student director Jasmine Morton (C’12) says that the works were selected because of the way they all expressed emotion, struggle and beauty, paying homage to the African American experience.
“It’s about pressing forward – resilience, power and the ability to press through and come out on top,” she explains. “This is not just about dancing – this is supposed to be an experience that challenges you, and enables growth as an individual.”
African American students founded the contemporary modern dance company in 1981.
Davis, who studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Martha Graham School, teaches in the department of performing arts and serves as chair of Georgetown’s dance council.
Movement for Movement
The dance instructor trains the troupe in a diverse range of genres, including modern, jazz, ballet, African, lyrical, hip hop and spiritual works, and says she encourages her students to “use their movement to start a movement.”
“It’s not just art for art’s sake,” she says. “It should be meaningful. It’s about how you think as an artist, your honesty, how you contribute.”
To inspire the young dancers, she has brought in acclaimed guest artists from around the world, including from the Alvin Ailey group, Philadanco and the KanKouran West African Dance Company.
She says the students also produce their own shows, learning about aspects of arts administration, publicity and costume design.
“This is an opportunity not just to dance but to understand what goes into the production of a show,” Davis says. “This really allows them to become leaders and decision makers.”