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Last modified: Tuesday, February 14, 2006

African American Arts Institute hosts 'Grand Nite,' annual dance workshop

Feb. 14, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two upcoming events at the Indiana University African American Arts Institute will focus on music, dance and scholarship by IU faculty members.

On Thursday (Feb. 16) at 7 p.m. the institute will launch its first installment of "Grand Nites in Grand Hall" at the center, located at 275 N. Jordan Ave. The African American Dance Company will host its ninth annual Dance Workshop at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on Feb. 24-25.

Designed to provide an outlet for individuals or groups to highlight talents, the inaugural Grand Nites will feature music by the George Middleton Trio. The ensemble performs a variety of music including funk, Motown, R&B and jazz. Middleton is an alumnus of the institute's IU Soul Revue.

Against this sonic backdrop, IU ethnomusicology professors Portia Maultsby and Mellonee Burnim will sign copies of their new book, African American Music: An Introduction (Routledge, 2006). Charles Sykes, director of the AAAI and a leading Motown scholar, also contributed a chapter to the book.

Charlie Nelms, vice president of institutional development and student affairs, also will sign copies of his book, Start Where You Find Yourself. Nelms will donate the profits from the book to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the United Nations Food Program and a local food bank. John A. McCluskey Jr., professor of African American and African Disapora studies, will sign his book, A Separate Cinema.

Refreshments will also be served. The event is free and open to the public.

The African American Dance Company's Dance Workshop is the only event in Indiana that invites national and international dance professionals to expose students and community members to dance forms of the African diaspora.

Iris Rosa, founder and director of the African American Dance Company and associate professor of African American and African Diaspora studies, said the workshop is "an opportunity to expose people to a wider scope of dance experiences." Through master classes, discussion panels and performance, the black dance experience is examined and shared, creating an educational and enlightening weekend.

More than 15 classes in ballet, salsa, African, modern, Horton, African American and other styles will be taught by guest artists including:

  • Elena Anderson, a performer and teacher with Deeply Rooted Productions in Chicago, Ill., and an expert in Horton modern dance technique
  • Jose Rivera, a dancer with Ballethnic Dance Company of Atlanta, Ga., which fuses ballet with African American cultural traditions
  • Paschal Younge, a Ghanaian master drummer and dancer with a charismatic style, who leads a highly successful ensemble at West Virginia University.

A highlight of the workshop will be a panel discussion, moderated by Rosa and composed of the guest artists, titled, "The Black Dance Experience: The Use of Choreographic Concepts from the African Diaspora to the Stage." The panel discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 in Room A201 of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. This event is free and open to the public.

The weekend will culminate with a showcase performance featuring local participants and regional dance groups. Dancers will perform at Willkie Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 25. This event also is free and open to the public.

The dance workshop is open to the public. Full registration includes two Friday classes and three Saturday classes for $75 for adults and $50 for youths aged 18 and under. Registration for Saturday classes only is $55 (adult) and $40 (youths). The fee for single classes is $20 for adults and $15 for youths.

Registration will be available at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. A registration form is available on the AAAI Web site at