dI Community Corner

From October 21-23, 2022, dance Immersion hosted the Legacy Series: Jazz Dance Symposium. On the first night we watched the extraordinary documentary entitled “Everything Remains Raw: A Historical Perspective on Hip Hop Danceby E. Moncell Durden. The documentary was incredible and deeply informative on the different types of dances from African American and Latinx people that changed the dance landscape of the United States. The weekend program inspired many conversations including one among some colleagues led by Nicole Inica Hamilton of Turn Out Radio, about the room’s thoughts on the history of our dances, and the complexities of codification, regulation and syllabus notations.

Even the way in which we learn, consume and engage in dance keeps evolving. We have moved away from learning from our elders in the villages, our peers on the street corners, friends and strangers at the clubs, basement parties, sessions at the community centers, family bbqs. For many, these have been replaced by dance studio lessons and/or learning through social media platforms to engage and learn movement. We often heavily rely on dance studios or social media to engage and learn movement. 

Over time certain dance styles have changed or disappeared into the abyss. When we first started this community conversation corner, we talked about the importance of preserving our cultures and our customs through dance, which inspired me to think about the concept of codification. 

Could codification be the answer to keeping our dance styles alive in their purest forms?

Codification is described as the process of naming certain movements or steps and setting the physical technique of the latter (Keyes, 2018). 

My understanding of this definition is that the dance form would stay in its original form, remain constant, and also that artists engaging in the dance form would know the names of the movements, their meaning and its history. 

Although, in theory, this seems wonderful, I cannot help but wonder if this process is feasible or advisable when we refer to street or traditional styles. 

Key questions include:

If a style derives from an individual’s self-expression, lifestyle, cultural or spiritual practice, can we codify it? 

If we were to begin to codify certain dance forms, how would we go about ensuring their authenticity?

How do we ensure the individual still has the freedom to explore their natural body in movement?  

How do we begin to codify a dance that has been modified throughout the years?

Can we codify some African Diasporic dances but not all?

Finally, what would be the process to begin coding?

 

In our upcoming November-December 2022 Instagram Live series – in partnership with Turn Out Radio, we will work with artists to explore these questions. 

And please submit your own thoughts in the comments below.  If you have thoughts that you would rather not share publicly, please email me at info@danceimmersion.ca.

~ Zahra

dI Community Corner

What is art?

Art to me is an escape from reality. A way to express our thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences.

Throughout my artistic journey, I have encountered many situations where people were engaged in conversations on the differences between the qualifications of a trained/ technical dancer versus a self-taught dancer. The debate on whether one is more equipped to succeed in their professional artistic career than the other. This led me to question myself on what determines the longevity and accomplishments in an artistic journey. Also, at the end of the day, does your academia or life experiences matter in evaluating or appreciating your talent and your gift?

A technically trained dancer or professional is defined as one who has received formal training from an educational institution, whereas a self-taught dancer is one who learned through discovery and learning from others within the dance community. Although in theory, these two seem clear cut, in reality the lines are blurred, or at times non-existent. Every dancer at one point or another will go through some form of formal training whether it’s through classes, and/or workshops, residencies, or mentorship programs. Just like how every dancer at some point, through discovery, will use their life experiences to develop their own artistic voice that is not taught in an educational institution.

In saying that, I am curious if we can or will ever reach a point where we can debunk the idea of technical segregation. Dance is not a singular entity, there are hundreds if not thousands of different genres across the globe so who determines which “technique” supersedes another?

Stephen Wang writes in his book, Triple Crown Leadership, “No matter what job you have in life, 5 % of your success will be determined by your academic credentials, 15% by your professional experiences and 80% by your communication skills.”

Do you agree? Do you believe that technical training, life experiences, or a combination of both will help you be successful in your artistic journey?

What are your thoughts? Please comment on this blog if you would like to participate and share your experiences in this community discussion. If you have thoughts that you would rather not share publicly, please email me at info@danceimmersion.ca.

 

Yours truly,

Zahra

dance Immersion Bantaba

A continuation of dance Immersion’s Online Bantaba & Check-In with Esie Mensah on her film, Tessel.

In this video, Esie answers questions from the audience that we did not have time for at the Bantaba event.

 

 

dI Community Corner

 


Hello,

My name is Zahra Badua and I am the administrative assistant here at dance Immersion – welcome to my blog. Over the next few weeks, I will be hosting a community corner where I will be discussing various topics that affect the African Diaspora.  In addition, I will be speaking with prominent people within our community to get their perspectives on various topics. In this first blog, I intend on starting a conversation about the upkeep of African and Caribbean traditions, primarily our traditional/folk songs and dances.  

Let me begin by introducing myself. I am a Ghanaian dancer/ teacher/ choreographer originally from Montreal, Quebec. My passion for dance started at a very young age as a means to learn and understand my African heritage. I moved to Toronto to pursue a career in criminal justice until I realised that dance was my true calling. 

My artistic journey has brought me to a place where I am fascinated with the art of storytelling and dance. In the African culture, song and dance are the ways our history and culture are passed down from one generation to another. Our elders are the ones that teach us, they are the ones that uphold and keep our traditions in their purest form. Their knowledge and expertise are passed down orally. 

Lately, I find myself questioning if our rich traditions will become extinct, since they are taught orally. What happens when an elder dies and we did not get the chance to gather the information before they transitioned? 

 

There is an African proverb that says: 

“When an Elder passes on, it is like losing a library”

 

How do we trace back our rich history when the elders are no longer present?

 

I am curious to know what your thoughts are. Please comment on this blog if you would like to participate in this community discussion.

If you have thoughts that you would rather not share publicly, please email me at info@danceimmersion.ca.

 

Yours truly,

Zahra Badua