April 27, 2016

Contemporary Folklore by Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater
Category: 2016 Event, Performers


— TEDxMtHood is honored to introduce Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater as one of our 2016 performers. —

Contemporary folklore = Contemporary: the freedom of breaking away from traditional structures and blending dance techniques + Folklore: maintaining a connectedness to people, stories, history and ancestry.

We are Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater – an ensemble of multi-dimensional dancers and musicians under the artistic direction of Oluyinka Akinjiola. We look at tradition through a contemporary lens, bridging our vast history with our complex present. Using folkloric movement as a basis of communication to our immediate surroundings, Rejoice! weaves movement and music of the past and present with an underlying narrative for powerful storytelling. We navigate through modern day issues and current topics that are steeped through generations.

Rejoice! is made up of many voices. We believe an artistic community and environment is collaborative. Everyone in Rejoice! has amazing and diverse strengths, and we complement each other so incredibly well. Choreographically, Rejoice! is created collaboratively with the dancers. When everyone is invested in the creative process, a higher purpose is served and allows everyone to invest and engage with the work more. The traditional power-structure of choreographer vs. dancer is shifting, and a new culture of collaboration within a dance company is becoming the norm. The first piece we will bring to the TEDxMtHood stage exhibits just that.

“Phenomenally” was created in tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou soon after she passed. The work honors Angelou’s contribution to the arts, humanity and women. The excerpt that will be shown is set to the poem “Phenomenal Woman.” From the sounds of our voices to the curves of our hips, we celebrate individuality and community. Woven in to Angelou’s words is a vocabulary of folkloric and contemporary movement from the African Diaspora and Brazilian samba.

Following “Phenomenally” will be “Growing Pains.” This piece illustrates inter-generational tension and the inevitability of cultural evolution. Vernacular jazz movements mixed with contemporary house dance movements demonstrate the evolutionary thread of American street dance since the early 1900’s. This is similarly represented in the music, mixing jazz and house. Within the constant ebb and flow of tension and release lies the struggle older generations have had with attachments to how things should be done, while the youth step away from tradition to innovate.

Performers in Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater include: Jamie Minkus, who brings a physical practice from Capoeira to Afro-Cuban dance; DarVejon Jones, whose graceful movement bridges ballet from Alonzo Lines to Afro-Haitian dance; Uriah Boyd, with a peaceful yet incredibly captivating grace that knows no bounds; Michael Galen, whose physical and creative range transcends generational and technical barriers; Sara Mohkami, deeply grounded in West African dance and Yoruba orisha movement; Chelsea Maricle, bringing modern vernacular and passion into Rejoice!; and Oluyinka Akinjiola, serving as Artistic Director and Choreographer, bridging all of these styles with research in dances of the Yoruba Diaspora and modern dance.

Rejoice! is excited to bring this contemporary folklore to the TEDxMtHood stage June 18, with original works choreographed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Michael Galen.

Photo by Karney Hatch Photography.