by Paula Citron
The International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference was held outside the United States for the first time, and Toronto’s Premiere Dance Theatre got to see some very rewarding dance and dancers.
I attended the final IABD showcase which featured six high powered American dance companies. Of particular fascination were the contrast to the Americans of Toronto-Cuban Dansa Okantome, Montreal’s Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata, and England’s Tavaziva Dance Company. The American dance aesthetic was completely different from the others – more modern/ballet/jazz based, as opposed to African/Creole/contemporary. Clearly each country produces its own dance vocabulary rooted in its own history.
My favourite piece was Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s in.ter.pret, Hope Boykin’s devastating satire on Balanchine’s famous ballet Serenade. I also loved Nyata’s intricate rhythms, Tavaziva’s homage to freedom fighters, and the emotional solos by Ghrai D. Harrison from Chicago and Keisha Clarke from Los Angeles.
There is more to black dance than Alvin Ailey, and these companies deserve a wider audience.
From Premiere Dance Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.