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Oberlin’s Essence presents dance concerts in April

OBERLIN: “Steppin' in da Beat” is the title of the spring dance concert to be performed by Oberlin College's Essence, Friday, April 3, 2009, and Saturday, April 4, at 8:00 p.m. in Warner Center. Dance Diaspora alumna Kantara Souffrant ’08 and third year member Kristal Boyd ’10 are featured soloists.

The dances have their source in “Stepping,” a choreographed dance style with intricate rhythms that involve stomping the feet and slapping different parts of the body. The concert sets flow chronologically backwards from Krumping and Ringshout to Gumboot dancing, a form that originated from the Apartheid experiences of Zulu workers in South African gold mines, says ensemble director and choreographer Adenike Sharpley.

The performance’s choreography also was “deeply influenced by the heartbreak in the music of jazz vocalist Nina Simone, ‘The High Priestess of Soul,’” adds Sharpley, who is an artist in residence in the College's African American Studies and Theater and Dance Departments.

Sharpley came to the College in 1991 with a wealth of experience as a choreographer and dancer, including work with the legendary Katherine Dunham. Under her direction, many Essence members go on to become part of Dance Diaspora, Oberlin’s premier touring ensemble, which has broadened access to Africa's rich cultural heritage by undertaking residencies in Appalachia and performing to widespread acclaim throughout the East and Midwest since Sharpley formed it in 1992.

Tickets for the Essence concert are $6 at the door and $5 in advance from Central Ticket Service (CTS) box office, noon to 5 p.m. Mon. - Fri., or through the CTS 24-hour reservation line (440.775.8169). Seating is limited. Warner Center is located at 30 N. Professor St., behind the King/Rice building.






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