People Like Me 2001:
Dancing at the Crossroads
People Like Me 2001 explores dance styles at the crossroads of culture.
What happens when of different traditions and styles mingle and fuse, when people
and their customs migrate to and settle in new lands? This year's program will
explore the diversity of popular dance in the Americas and its roots, including
the historic and ongoing dialogue with Africa, European, and varied indigenous
peoples, who together created distinctly New World cultural expressions. With
this approach, we have the opportunity to reach into the historic and mythic
past, discovering sources of cross-cultural inspiration in traditional arts.
Our 2001 dance adventure is guided by a modern day Trickster, and takes place
at a crossroads. Our very own expressions, new and old, have always been and
continue to be created and influenced at the crossroads of cultures, so..."X
marks the spot!"
the squares, plazas, ceremonies, and festivals where
people meet and dances are born. We unlock the treasure chest of American dance
and music culture, revelling in the hidden jewels of expression and colorful
elements revealed, as we explore the diversity of African spirit in the Americas.
The cast weaves together not only dance, but myths and legends, global characters,
and live music, stitching together a magic carpet experience which will transport
and enchant audiences young and old.
For example, tap dance, clogging, swing, ballroom, hip hop, rock n roll, rap,
salsa, the banjo, guitar, conga drums, square and contra dancing, and more,
all have roots in rich and varied cultural traditions that have migrated, mixed
and flavored each other. Together with European influences from England, Scotland,
Ireland, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal, (to name a few,) and
set on a foundation of inspiration and traditionality coming from the indigenous
peoples of the Americas, American dance tells the story of cultural hybridization.
Rolling beneath it all, like a great river of rhythm, the depth and breadth
of influence from many African ethnic groups on dances all over the Americas
creates fertile ground for a playful, interactive, engaging, and cohesive creation
of constantly new and renewed dances.
The lineup this year is spectacular, boasting some of the finest performers
in the Bay Area. Pre-show activities, facilitated by versatile performers Rami
Margrom and Evie Ladin, involve and
engage the children through call-and-response songs, movement activities, and
Ballet Jali Diabate, features "The Twins," Assane
and Oussaynou Kouyate, who hail from a long lineage of Malian Griots (GREEohz;
historians, storytellers and praise singers). Their exquisite singing and energetic
and spectacular dancing is accompanied by a skilled musical ensemble which
includes not only percussion, but melodic African instruments such as the Kora
harp-lute and the Balafon xylophone with gourd resonators.
The acclaimed Peruvian group, De Rompe y Raja,
is bringing master dancer "Lalo" Izquierdo and guitarist Julian Jimenez direct
from Lima. With intricate footwork and an engaging storyline, they will spark
a dialogue of dance and rhythm between the performers and with the audience.
Evie Ladin is a skilled and versatile tap dancer,
clogger, hambone/body musician, and banjo player par excellance, who will give
us glimpses of the Appalachians, the deep South, and contemporary North American
Blanche Brown's Group Petit la Croix (pictured
above) brightens the stage with a festive and colorful Haitian social dance,
accompanied by a dynamic percussion ensemble.
Susana Arenas Pedroso, renowned dancer and choreographer from Havana, brings
her new group Olorum, with live Batá drums,
songs, and an energetic and engaging dancers to spark Afro-Cuban cosmology
The show is woven together by former member of the Urban Bush Women Dance
Company, Amara Tabor-Smith, a dynamic and playful
narrator who guides the children on their active and colorful journey through
the crossroads of world dance.
By bringing to the forefront familiar elements from our local environment,
and relating some of the performance treasures to the historical contexts where
they were rooted, children can realize even more clearly how connected and
interdependent the human family has always been, and continues to be.