World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


El Wah Movement Dance Theatre

GENRE: Traditional
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2013

El Wah Movement means Movement of the Lwa (Haitian spirit) or “Movement of the Soul.” The company was founded in 2005 by Colette Eloi, born out of a commemoration dance she created with Ruth Beckford and Laila Jenkins for Katherine Dunham’s memorial (conceived by Caroline Himes.) The company is also a creative product of Project Reconnect, whose mission was to find and celebrate connections between cultural arts of the African Diaspora and Africa. Colette currently teaches at Laney College. El Wah Movement’s mission is to continue passionately in support of Haitian oral, musical, and dance traditions to create, inspire, and connect.


GENRE: Traditional
TITLE: Rele Tout Bon Moun Yo
Blanche Brown
DANCERS: Ebonie Nefartari Banett, Blanche Brown, Holly Burnett, Annisa Carthen, Byrd Duckett, Empress Freedom, Kimberly Garrette, LaKiesha Golden, Akua Jackson, Wintana Kahsu, Muisi-Kongo Malonga, Ngalifourou Matingou, Anya McClenton, Tanzia Mucker, Eryka Kariamo Nadrea, Audra Lynette Tipton, Valenzia Wince
MUSICIANS: Will Bellot (master drummer and vocals), Djems Dorsainvil (master drummer and vocals), Colette Eloi (vocals), Ron Jackson (drums), Kele Nitoto (drums), Hubert Saintil (drums)

West Coast Haitian dance pioneer, Blanche Brown joins El Wah Movement Dance Theatre in a ceremony that raises the positive energy: Rele Tout Bon Moun Yo—Call All the Good People. The style is from Haiti (Ayiti) and it features the song Priye Djo’, an adaptation of a traditional Haitian prayer chant song from the Lakou Souvenans.

Call Bon Dye (Good God), Call Bon Zanj (Good Angels), call all the people, all the children, because we want things to change!

This dance is a compilation of choreography and rhythm from the Rada Nation, a dance to summon an uplifting of spirits, urgency, and a call to action. Choreographer Colette Eloi recently visited Haiti, and she says, “The piece is dedicated to all the beautiful people of the world who responded to the call when Ayiti was hit by the devastating earthquake. Drummers, dancers and singers together uplift the beautiful spirit of Ayiti! Let’s rebuild Ayiti’s White House—that’s why we dance so hard, that’s why we sing so loud!”

To begin, dancers summon the Lwa spirit to open the door for positive opportunity. Then the intensity builds with two Rada rhythms. (Rada is the name for both the rites of Lwa practice and also the pantheon of ‘cool’ spirits from West Africa). The first rhythm, Nago, is for Lwa Ogou, hero and protector spirit. A soloist represents the spirit of Ogou, dancing with a machete to symbolize justice, cutting away deceit and negative energy. Then a Mayi rhythm calls down Rada Lwa. El Wah Movement means Movement of the Lwa (Haitian spirit) or “Movement of the Soul.”

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