I received South African choreographer Vincent Mantsoe’s latest dance offering, the first part of “Cut” on day five of the 22nd Digital JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience while wearing a white dress on the South Side of Chicago. It was the morning after the Black Diaspora’s Chadwick Boseman (King T’Challa) gained his wings. Like all sacred gatherings in the height of a global pandemic, this one is sadly virtual, too.
“Pivot and find the blessing.” Sage words of advice from Jacqueline Sinclair, artistic director of Joel Hall Dancers & Center (JHDC) in the time of coronavirus. The mission of “awakening the dancer in everyone’s soul” is still intact at JHDC, but in recent years they took a smart turn toward sustainability. That’s all Sinclair. She led the charge breaking down the old business model, enlisting artists to do the administrative work and began working on a legacy project and performance—as well as hunting for a new space to house JHDC.
“It’s been so important for me to consider progress, no matter how small, no matter how long it takes. Less about the specific point I’m at and more about the rate of change. Honoring the distance covered over time, the velocity of my being. And just needing to force myself to do shit. Trying over and over [...] when the default state of mind is the debilitating who-even-gives-a-fuck lack of motivation.”
MADISON, WI — As some colleges abruptly shift to remote learning in the wake of coronavirus outbreaks this fall, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) stands poised to reopen, offering a hybrid of remote and face-to-face instruction. The hybrid model would pose a challenge for any dance studio, but the UW Dance Department has created a detailed plan that they hope will be safe and beneficial for returning students.
What is self-identity? Is self-identity synonymous with humanity? Perhaps the two have a relationship in which self-identity defines one's humanity and humanity influences one's self worth. Either way, Adedayo Liadi, founder of Lagos-based Ijodee Dance Company, searches for the answers to these questions in “Aye Asan (Vanity).” Ijodee, performing alongside Durban's Flatfoot Dance Company, presented this work as part of the digital ‘Legacy’ platform hosted by JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience.
“Delicate Hold” is an apt title for Jane Jerardi’s dance video project in fulfillment of her 2019-20 Lab Artist grant from Chicago Dancemakers’ Forum.
Jerardi describes her process as “observing the ordinary and even awkward” in life, and from it, sorting out “the unexpectedly beautiful.” Calling her video installation “a meditation,” she seeks to look at ways in which women “articulate our desires,” filtered through the lenses of Buddhist and feminist writings and dance improvisation. Heady stuff. And a tall order to represent visually.
I wish I was capable of telling the Black story, but it requires the translation of many tongues due to its complex histories and multiple traditions usually penned by others … those who othered us. Dances composed with Black bodies offer a plurality that should attach itself to dialogue with the dancers, the music and the audience, because the rubric for interpretation is never singular.
During her welcome address for the digital 22nd annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, artistic director Dr. Lliane Loots highlighted the importance of memory as not mere nostalgia but as a roadmap for our collective future, particularly as we navigate the isolation of this new COVID-19 world.
She claws at the empty air, attempting yet failing to pull herself out from the inside of the kitchen freezer. She kicks the bottom door of the fridge open, knees slowly swinging beneath the bar separating fridge and freezer compartments. The camera lingers here, slowly panning along her legs, pelvis and chest. Her face is no longer visible. She is a body dangling in a dark, confined corner of her home--at once a reminder of the most mundane spot I visit daily in quarantine (looking for sustenance and boredom snacks) and at the same time a vivid portrayal of something dark.