The legendary IU African American Dance Company (AADC) is pleased to share our annual Student Showcase. Inspired by challenges and restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 global pandemic, this academic year, we are proud to present our very first virtual concert performance, Resist and Surrender.
In preparation for this performance AADC students in the upper-level course were tasked with choreographic research, while the foundational level students conducted embodied research. Teams were assigned or chosen. They chose music, costumes, and arranged rehearsal schedules. They considered questions posed to them about the choreographic process as they created their own procedures. At three separate showings over the course of the semester, they engaged in critical conversation and received feedback about the work. What seemed to emerge from these showings were ideas about surrendering and resisting which, given the planet’s current concern with two simultaneous, global pandemics – one about viral infection and the other about systemic racial oppression – it is possibly not a coincidence.
Looking back at the year thus far, life for the dance company, like everyone else, has certainly been different. Navigating an academic discourse that is typically engaged through and among bodies, proved quite challenging. We were forced to wear masks, physically distance, and stare into a computer screen, all the things that are typically antithetical to embodied research and physical practice, and certainly to dance performance for a large ensemble.
So, given these challenges how does one move forward? Do we yield and hold back from threats, OR do we cautiously plow ahead hoping to eventually produce, as in a successful harvest? As you witness the fruits of our students choreographic and embodied research, we invite you to consider ideas about resistance and surrender. When is it necessary to resist in order to make progress, and when does forward movement require surrender? How can they work together, or when are they in conflict, as experienced in our recent presidential election, when is it time to concede? Allow these questions to help you see tension, flow, hard, soft, pristine, and missteps as evocative evidence of our students’ exploration and learning. And, as always, enjoy the show.
— Stafford C. Berry Jr. (Baba Stafford), African American Dance Company Director