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CoDa (Contemporary Dance Ensemble) is dedicated to the continued development of dance on the campus and larger community by fostering collaboration across artistic and academic disciplines. By integrating the foundational techniques of modern and ballet with contemporary and popular forms of movement, music, and multimedia, we are dedicated to the creation and performance of original work and repertoire by two faculty artistic directors, visiting artists, and students.
New York City Ballet, under the direction of Peter Martins, is one of the foremost dance companies in the world, with a roster of spectacular dancers and an unparalleled repertory. The Company was founded in 1948 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, and it quickly became world-renowned for its athletic and contemporary style. Jerome Robbins joined NYCB the following year and, with Balanchine, helped to build the astounding repertory and firmly establish the Company in New York.
The Blues Project is a collaboration between Dorrance Dance, led by the extraordinary choreographer Michelle Dorrance, and award-winning musician and composer Toshi Reagon. The show features some of today's finest tap artists, whose percussive movement becomes a visual and aural conversation with music performed live by Reagon and a band featuring acoustic and electric guitar, bass, drums, percussion, and violin.
Michelle Dorrance's dynamic company aims to honor tap dance's uniquely beautiful history in a new and compelling context, not by stripping the form of its tradition, but by pushing it: rhythmically, aesthetically, and conceptually. She is a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, a 2014 Alpert Award Winner, and a 2013 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award Winner.
The Dance Department is pleased to welcome back to Berkshire County H. T. Chen and Dancers in a residency exploring their new work South of Gold Mountain which is an interpretation based on the images and oral histories of the Chinese who settled in the southern states prior to WWII. Lesser known were the Chinese who came to the southern states to work on plantations, widen the Augusta Canal, and build the railroads. Starting from the diaspora that led the Chinese to the South, this piece is a collective journey of these individuals. Through the power of faith, tradition, and work ethic, as well as the bonds to other Chinese families in the South, these individuals experienced, endured, and overcame their hardships. South of Gold Mountain pays tribute to the livelihoods of Chinese grocers, laundries, restaurants, and those who quietly persevered to make a difference in the communities in which they lived.
Since 1986 Kusika has thrived as a place for students, faculty, and artists interested in the study and performance of traditions, concepts, and material from Africa and the diaspora. We are a community that shares a repertoire of traditions in dance, music, and storytelling that embraces the innovations characteristic of the global impact of the African continent.
Our work also reflects the challenges African peoples face. Our recent studies include material from the countries of Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Zimbabwe, and Haiti.
Zambezi has come a long way since 1992. The group plays traditional music from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Africa in general, and is moving toward hybridity. Zambezi's musical depth has been enhanced by the quality of musicianship brought in by the students. Our orchestration includes brass, woodwinds, strings, and additional percussion, making the music richer.
Pachedu means "among ourselves," in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. This year, the Department continues our tradition of offering a (F)all shared concert, with a focus on exploring the classic canon of traditional dance and music in our diverse genres, as well as work(s) being created by students, faculty, and guest artists. Please join members of CoDa, Kusika, Sankofa, and The Zambezi Marimba Band as we celebrate our roots and our futures.
Sankofa is Williams College's step team founded by two female students in 1996. The now co-ed team performs stepping, a percussive dance form created by black fraternities in the mid-1900s that is influenced by military drill, South African gumboot, West African dance, and hip-hop. The word Sankofa comes from the Akan language of Ghana; in English it means "stepping forward while looking back." Sankofa uses this concept to reach back and stay true to its roots in order to step forward, reflecting the organization's mentality. The highly dynamic team has been known to incorporate everything from pop music and spoken word to breakdance and gymnastics in its choreography in order to create loud, high energy, and incredibly astounding performances.
Dance Until Hot! The Williams College Departments of Dance and Music presents Club Zambezi Dance Party! Led by Artist-in-Residence in African Music Performance Tendai Muparutsa, this group of young performers promises to heat up the dance floor in the midst of the winter. Club Zambezi Dance Party combines a unique musical collaboration with irresistible dance beats. Founded in 1992, Zambezi was originally inspired by traditional Zimbabwean marimba bands. The musicians of Zambezi perform on specially designed and custom made marimbas — the Zambezi group has an even wider range than its African marimba-band cousins. Zambezi's hybrid instruments are capable of playing a huge variety of music including traditional and contemporary dance music. There is no band or set of instruments like these anywhere else in the world.