Rod Rodgers Dance Company returns to La Mama
E.T.C. March 25 to 28 with a concert of new and premiere works reflecting
a new direction for this veteran company. The company will offer twelve
pieces, featuring one of Rodgers' most recent works, "Jazz Fusions,"
an experiment with Jazz forms, "She Sayings and Soul Songs,"
inspired by the late Nina Simone, "Mercy Street," a new work
by principal company member Kayoko Sakoh, and "Amadina," a work
by Guest Choreographer Seán Curran.
The concert is a tribute to Rod Rodgers' vision with works that are contemporary
modern pieces, including abstract dances and works with dramatic social
commentary. It is named "Don't Tell Me Who I Am" after an article
by that name which Rodgers wrote in the late '60s, stating that his identity
as an artist should not be labeled by his ethnic identity. It appears
now in "The Vision of Modern Dance in the Words of its Creators,"
edited by Jean Larson Brown.
When Rodgers died in 2002, he was working on "She Sayings and Soul
Songs," a suite of dances. It is being premiered in this concert,
along with "Mercy Street." "Amadina" is not new, but
is new to this troupe, who have recently been collaborating with Choreographer
Founding Director Rod Rodgers grew up in a family of professional dancers
in the midwest and established a company in New York in 1972. His dances
reflect his training and experience as a musician, photographer and visual
artist, but in his several styles of modern dance, there is a strong strain
of dramatic social commentary. His signature pieces include four rhythmdances,
"Rhythm Ritual", "Tangents", "Percussion Suite",
and "ICTUS", and four major works of social commentary, "BOX
'71," "Victims," "Cameos of Women" and a multi-arts
series "Poets & Peacemakers." He received fellowships and
commissions from NYSCA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA Creative Artist
in Public Service, the Beard Fund, and John Hay Whitney Foundation and
others. He also received a Spirit of Detroit Creative Award and an AUDELCO
Award for innovative audience development. The Rod Rodgers Dance Company
is known for its outreach initiatives that take dance programs to under-served
audiences in community and school settings.
The multi-ethnic company includes Kim Grier (artistic director), dancers
David Browne, Ronald Burton, Sarah Cosner, Danelle M. Dickson, Kevin Gaudin,
Nami Kagami, Nikkia Reveillac, Kara Rosales, Jessica St. Vil, Tamara Saintonge
(Apprentice) and Kayoko Sakoh.
The company debuted "Quest," a work about Malcolm X, at La
MaMa in 1995. It appeared at La MaMa in 1999 with an evening of three
dances by Rod Rodgers and a debut piece by guest choreographer Kayoko
Sakoh. In 2002, La MaMa held a benefit for the ongoing care of the choreographer
in the time of his critical illness which featured performances by the