COBA - Diasporic Dimensions at Fleck Dance Theatre

(Collective of Black Artists)
Diasporic Dimensions
February 26-28

Fleck Dance Theatre/Harbourfront Centre

If you're familiar with the work of Toronto's COBA, you might be a little surprised at Diasporic Dimensions, their upcoming show at the Fleck Dance Theatre. "The entire production is contemporary dance," explains Charmaine Headley, co-founder, dancer and choreographer. The company typically performs either traditional West African or Caribbean dance. "We normally keep it as authentic as possible," she says, "but this is contemporary work - based on our African heritage. This is contemporary dance to traditional music - live music."

Diasporic Dimensions comes as part of Black History Month celebrations, exploring the richness of Africa and the Diaspora through dance in a programme that will present four pieces, three of them world premieres, including one piece by Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus. Headley describes the experience of working with Saintus as "...brief but intense. He had 15 days only, so he came with the piece set in his head. He came with structured choreographic phrases, steeped in Haitian culture." It's the third time now that Headley has collaborated with Saintus, which made the experience a little easier. "I'm experienced with the vocabulary," she notes.

COBA member BaKari Eddison Lindsay, also co-founder/dancer/teacher, has choreographed a piece called Mandé Variations, based on the kora, a West African instrument. "He's created a complex movement based piece, based on the playing of the instrument," Headley explains. If you've ever listened to the kora, it's music played in multiple layers, ending up as a complex web of sound. "What Lindsay has done is created movement phrases that echo the movement of the musician."

The third new piece was choreographed by company member and dancer Julia Morris. "It's a contemporary take on the Nyahbinghi culture of Jamaica," Headley explains. The Nyahbinghi Order is one of the oldest of the three Rastafarian orders. "It's her third work choreographed with us." Headley notes COBA's emphasis on supporting younger and up and coming artists and choreographers.

Sounds like an interesting show - live music, dance, and I'll be checking it out on the 26th - review to come.