When Alexis Beverly first came to Indiana University, she had no idea she would end up studying dance. Now a senior studying psychology, French, and African American and African Diaspora Studies from Indianapolis, Ind., Beverly first came to IU Bloomington intending to become a neurosurgeon. However, once she learned about the African American Dance Company, her goals began to change. Today, as a member of the dance company, pursuing dance is at the core of Beverly’s academic and professional goals.
“To me, dance is everything,” Beverly said. “I wake up, and if I’m not going to the studio, I’m thinking about what I want to choreograph, what song I want to dance to next, or what story can I tell to push boundaries.”
This March, people passionate about dance from all over the country will have the opportunity to join Beverly in experiencing the transformative impact of studying dance from the African American and African diaspora. On March 22-23, members of the dance community will gather at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center for the African American Dance Company’s 21st Annual Dance Workshop. Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, the Dance Workshop will bring together master dancers from Cuba, New York City, Bloomington, and beyond to guide students through dance forms including West African, Afro-Cuban, street jazz, salsa, vogue, and the Umfundalai technique.
“It is an opportunity for the African American Dance Company and IU to engage our students in the dance company and folks in the community in African and African diaspora dance forms,” said Stafford C. Berry, Jr, director of the African American Dance Company.
Now in its 21st year, the African American Dance Company’s Dance Workshop began under Founding Director and Professor Emerita Iris Rosa. Today, the workshop brings the local, state, and national community together with guest artists from around the world in a celebration of dance forms from the African American and African diaspora.
Joining this year’s participants are masters of dance from around the world, who will introduce participants to a wide variety of dance techniques. In addition to teaching students during the workshop, guest artists will also participate in a panel discussion about their paths through the world of dance. Free and open to the public, the discussion will take place on March 22 at 2 p.m. in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, Room A201. Guest artists attending this year’s workshop include:
- Dr. C. Kemal Nance, assistant professor at Illinois University and master teacher of the Umfundalai technique.
- Milagros Ramirez, lead dancer and general artistic director and choreographer for the Ballet Foklorico de Oriente Cuba.
- The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, a diverse dance company that has performed works from African and African American traditions for over 50 years.
- Cesar Valentino, instructor with the Alvin Ailey Extension in New York City and long-time practitioner of vogue.
- Stafford C. Berry Jr., director of the African American Dance Company and Professor in African American and African Diapora Studies and Contemporary Dance at IU Bloomington
In addition to the panel discussion and workshop, the weekend will also feature a Late Night Bantaba on March 22 at 9 p.m. in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall. Alongside the workshop’s guest artists and expert percussionists, attendees will experience a wide range of dances from across the African American and African diaspora in a festive drumming party.
Capping off the weekend, the 21st Annual Dance Showcase will give attendees the opportunity to experience the dance talents of the workshop’s instructors and participants. Free and open to the public, the showcase will take place on March 23 at 6 p.m. in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall.
According to Berry, students from all walks of life will find value in the workshop and the weekend’s events, from those studying dance in college to those pursuing it as a personal passion.
“Dance could fall in line with one’s academic pursuits, but even more, it could be there for support and well-being,” Berry said. “A lot of students feel at home when they’re dancing, so if they can do that while they’re engaging in their academic pursuits, it hopefully will facilitate their success.”
Registrations are currently open for the 21st Annual Dance Workshop; to learn more about registering for the workshop, visit the Dance Workshop website.