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EVIDENCE: Sharing human experiences through dance

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EVIDENCE: Sharing human experiences through dance

Dancers Annique Roberts and Kevin Brown perform a duet together.

Dancers Annique Roberts and Kevin Brown perform a duet together.

Photo courtesy of Ronald K. Brown/ EVIDENCE, A Dance Company Facebook

Dancers Annique Roberts and Kevin Brown perform a duet together.

Photo courtesy of Ronald K. Brown/ EVIDENCE, A Dance Company Facebook

Photo courtesy of Ronald K. Brown/ EVIDENCE, A Dance Company Facebook

Dancers Annique Roberts and Kevin Brown perform a duet together.

Rozlyn Paradis, Staff Writer

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EVIDENCE: A Dance Company brought their interpretation of the human experience to Luther through the expression and integration of contemporary and traditional African dance movements. The performance took place in the Center for Faith and Life on Saturday, March 17.

Renowned choreographer Ronald K. Brown founded EVIDENCE in 1985 and is now the company’s Artistic Director.

“I wanted to create a company that, when people came to view them, they saw real people on stage,” Brown said. “I want people to see the reflection of themselves on stage [and] the reflection of the human experience.”

EVIDENCE’s mission is to promote understanding of life in the African diaspora through dance and storytelling. The company travels through North America, Europe, and Africa to perform, teach master classes, and  conduct lectures for all ages.

Photo courtesy of EVIDENCE: A Dance Company website
Members of EVIDENCE: A Dance Company performing together.

The performance featured three sections. The first section was a piece titled “Four Corners” where the women wore full-flowing maroon skirts and the men wore linen pants and long, sleeveless shirts. “Four Corners” is inspired by a piece of writing by an unnamed author: “…Beloved, you say your God, woman you’re of the earth, lamentations born, you son… Four Corners with blades and sheaths… Stand Up.”

The second part of the performance consisted of five shorter pieces, each lasting just a few minutes. The music changed drastically between the pieces, from fast-paced songs with a strong, heavy beat to slow instrumentals with rich strings. The dancers wore vastly different costumes but all were teal, flowy, and added an extra dimension to the movement.

The final movement was titled “Grace,” and Brown joined the dancers on stage. Three men and one woman wore white costumes. The woman in white represented a goddess full of grace who made her journey to Earth. The three other dancers on stage wore red.

By the end of the performance, the goddess had spread grace, bringing the three dancers to heaven. This was represented with a costume change from red to white.

Dance major Abby Suhr (‘18) enjoyed the entire show, but especially the last section.

“I really liked the opposite of the red and white [costumes] on stage and seeing how the movement of the two differed,” Suhr said.

Throughout the performance, Brown seamlessly integrated aspects of traditional African dance and contemporary movements into one dynamic style. Rounded ballet arms were juxtaposed with sharp torso isolations. Explosive choreography was followed by a simple walk from one side of the stage to the other.

Moments of the performance  were purposefully unstructured. This was to imitate real people grooving to the music like they might in their own home. When the music quieted, the audience could hear the pitter-patter of the performers’ feet on the stage.

“The movement on stage was authentic,” Suhr said.

Along with choreographing professional dancers on stage, Brown also teaches master classes that introduce individuals to this style of movement.

“My love really is to bring dance to everyone,” Brown said. “I strive to bring access to dance regardless of an individual’s interests.”

One of his master classes took place during a Movement Fundamentals course with Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Andrea Vazquez-Aguirre in the Center for the Arts on Friday, March 16.

The class was taught by Brown and assisted by company dancer Demetrius Burns. It lasted one hour and was attended by 30 dancers, most of whom were students.

Annika Vande Krol (‘19) | Photo Bureau
Founder and artistic director of EVIDENCE: A Dance Company Ronald K. Brown teaches Teo Jubé (‘19) during the master class.

Brown began the class with a relaxed, contemporary-based warm-up and slowly introduced traditional African dance movement. He never paused in his instruction, but transitioned from warm-up to center work and then across-the-floor work.

“The continuous flow of the class was beautiful,” Vazquez-Aguirre said. “[Brown] introduced movements in the center and incorporated them across the floor. It was a great way to introduce movements to dancers at a variety of levels.”

Vazquez-Aguirre also commented on Brown’s ability to make the class accessible to those who had never experienced dance before.

“He didn’t let [those struggling with the movement] fall through the cracks,” Vazquez-Aguirre said. “He worked with them individually so they could feel successful, too.”

There were many similar movements between the master class and the performance.

Surh enjoyed both watching and dancing with EVIDENCE.

“The movement was so energetic,” Suhr said. “I couldn’t stop moving or smiling.”

L.A. Theatreworks: The Mountaintop is the next show in the Center Stage Series. This takes place in the CFL on April 6 at 7:30 p.m.

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