Dimensions Dance Theater is pleased to announce the premiere of DOWN THE CONGO LINE II featuring two works rooted in Congolese tradition by choreographers Herve (Kayos) Makaya and Jose “Cheo” Rojas, directed by Dimensions Dance Theater Artistic Director Deborah Vaughan. A celebration of dance and music rooted in Congolese traditions, the performance will be accompanied by Cuban and Congolese percussionists, and two of the Bay Area’s best-known drummers—Sandy Perez from Cuba, and Kiazi Malonga, son of the late Malonga Casquelourd.
DOWN THE CONGO LINE II premieres on Saturday October 13, 2012, at 8pm at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice Street at 14th Street, Oakland. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door (children under 18 years $15). Advance tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com or in person at the Dimensions Dance Theater office (M-F 4pm-7pm) on the 3rd floor of the Malonga Center (1428 Alice St. at 14th St.). Further information is available at (510) 465-3363 or dimensionsdance.org
“Join Dimensions Dance Theater for a special evening of this exciting blend of exhilarating music and powerful dance traditions that are present in Cuba and Congo,” said Artistic Director Deborah Vaughan. The concept of DOWN THE CONGO LINE came about through a trip Vaughan made to the Congo. Her experiences there inspired her to build a collaboration for the company that would recognize the extraordinary contribution that Congolese culture has made to the music and dance of the Americas. This new work engages traditional artists from the Diaspora to create contemporary work that is both rooted in the local community’s traditions and also reflects their Congolese origins.
Jose Rojas’s choreography OF THE ISLAND brings a view of Cuba from a past time – making the old become the new. The impassioned rhythms and dances of the island will light up the stage. This exciting work highlights Cuba’s connection to the Congo with a suite of dances that reflect the enduring and irrepressible spirit of Africa in Cuba.
Herve Makaya’s choreography VUKANA is a lush creation that will entertain and inspire audiences with the spellbinding sound of the “ngoma” (drum), layered with song, story and widely varied dance styles of Brazzaville, Congo. This work has a rich vocabulary and celebrates living traditions in the Congo.
Dimensions Dance Theater presented Part I of DOWN THE CONGO LINE in Spring 2012, featuring works by choreographers LaTanya d. Tigner and Isaura Oliveira, with live percussion accompaniment.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Herve (Kayos) Makaya is a choreographer, musician, and dancer trained in both traditional Congolese and contemporary dance. Born and raised in Republic of Congo, Makaya was initiated and ritually trained in the art of Congolese music and dance. His training spans over two decades and he has traveled the world and earned numerous honors and accolades for his artistic excellence. He traveled to San Francisco in 2007 with Compagnie Li-Sangha to participate in the San Francisco International Arts Festival, and decided to stay in the Bay Area to escape the civil war that was plaguing his home country. He is the Artistic Director of Tata Kaya Art, a Congolese dance and drum ensemble. He is based in Arcadia and is working with DDT for the first time on this project.
Jose “Cheo” Rojas was born in Guantánamo, Cuba, where he began dancing at a young age with his father at changüicera parties (“changüi” being a genre of music and dance born in the Eastern mountains of Cuba), and with his grandfather at Cuban-Haitian parties. He graduated as a dance instructor from the Escuela Profesional de Arte de Cuba in 1988, as professor and choreographer from the Instituto Superior de Arte de Cuba in 1990, and as a folklore specialist from the Escuela Nacional de Arte in 1996. He began his career as a professional dancer and choreographer with Danza Libre in 1989, and co-founded and co-directed the internationally renowned Cuban company Banrará in 1994. Having participated in several national and international festivals, he won a Best Choreographer award in Cuba in 1998. In 1999 he traveled to the U.S. to participate in a production of West Side Story in the Bay Area, where he now resides and teaches. This will be the first time that Cheo has choreographed for DDT.
DIMENSIONS DANCE THEATER
Under the artistic leadership of co-founder Deborah Vaughan for over 39 years, Dimensions Dance Theater has become widely recognized for its presentation of both traditional dances and contemporary choreography drawn from African, Jazz, and Modern dance idioms. DDT has garnered national and international acclaim, performing throughout the US and traveling to Nigeria, Jordan, Germany, Zimbabwe, The Congo (Brazzaville) and Cuba. DDT has advanced African American dance as an art form through a series of interdisciplinary collaborations with composers, musicians and singers working in a wide variety of African and African American traditions. These have included Hugh Masekela, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Street Sounds, Cab Calloway, Chanticleer, Omar Sosa, Anthony Brown and Fifth