African Choreographers Shine in Spring Season of E-Moves at Harlem Stage

African Choreographers Shine in Spring Season of E-Moves at Harlem Stage

Courtesy Harlem Stage Gatehouse

Don’t miss a chance to experience E-Moves at Harlem Stage before it ends May 5, the exciting series showcases choreographers and dancers of color featuring three contemporary African choreographers. In addition to the three works, each night will feature a pop-up performance by up-and-coming young choreographers. The emergence of artists from the continent of Africa who are first or second generation American or transnational is expanding the field of modern dance. Choreographers Lacina Coulibaly (Burkina Faso) Ousmane Wiles (Senegal) and Nora Chipaumire (Zimbabwe), have been commissioned by Harlem Stage to create new works or re-imagine existing pieces from their choreographic canons. The performances wrestle with questions that push the boundaries of what it means to be African in America now.

Nora Chipaumire’s  “Dark Swan”is performed by dancer Shamar Watt to Yo-Yo Ma’s “The Swan” from “Carnival of the Animals.” Inspired and dedicated to her late mother Francisca Saungweme, Chipaumire reimagines Michel Fokine‘s Russian masterpiece with a dark swan; a black heroine against a savannah landscape. The piece is a tribute to the black African woman, those who have been marched off their land into an uncertain future, but who refused to surrender. The piece serves as a reminder of how living work lives from one body to another, from one time to another and from one purpose to another.


Lacina Coulibaly’s “ Sen Kɔrɔ la” or “The rite of Initiates” is an ode to Africa. In the Bamana language, spoken by the Bambara people in West Africa, “Sen Kɔrɔ la” means "under our feet," a metaphor for the traditions and heritage that should have to propel Africa forward. The piece promotes the humanity and culture of Africa, compelling the audience to appreciate its great diversity and immense cultural wealth. “Sen Kɔrɔ la” is performed by Lacina Coulibaly, and will feature music such as Pan-Africa Orchestra’s “Mmenson.”


Ousmane Wiles’ (Omari Mizrahi) “ Sila Djiguba” or “A Path to Hope”is an amalgamation of West African, AfroBeat, House and Vogue styles. Featuring 8 dancers, the piece honors the dance circles or “ciphers” that bring people together during a time of celebration, whether it be a wedding in the villages of West Africa or a classic game of “Pass The Beat” at a vogue ball in New York City. Inspired by non-verbal exchanges, which occur when people from different walks of life engage within a cipher, Omari’s  “Sila Djiguba” showcases how traditional dance steps are reinterpreted through various dance styles and passed down to generations to come.


The pop-up performances expand the conversation to include the diasporic aesthetic of countries such as Haiti and Jamaica and the Congo. Dances are curated by Bessie Award winner Adesola Osakalumi (Original Broadway cast Fela! and Fela! The Concert; Choreography in School of Rock). The all-female choreographer lineup includes choreographers Nubian Néné, Tatiana Desardouin and others.


Run, don’t walk to Harlem Stage and experience these incredible contemporary pieces. It’s a quick ride Uptown on the 1, B or C trains to 135th St. Tickets are $20.


Harlem Stage, 150 Convent Ave., 212.281.9240 ext. 19


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