From my Sophomore year of college until my graduation, most of my best friends were heavily involved in the Dance program at Columbia College Chicago. Outside of being wildly funny and expressive, they were all very serious about their craft and seemed to have an energy that couldn’t be found north of Van Buren and Wabash, where our dorm was located. It wasn’t until I ventured to the Dance Center several blocks south to support them in a recital when I realized the power of what they studied. The stage became their altar and safe space. My friends were able to lay their troubles down on the marley floor and simultaneously feed their hunger to master their gifts. Upon graduation, I never thought I’d see that kind of fire again. However, when I encountered Revolution Dance Theatre for the first time last April, I was more than pleased to see that it still existed.
Founded by Artistic Director David Choate, Revolution Dance Theatre is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building cultural diversity, and giving minority students and children from low income families opportunities in the world of dance, especially ballet. Being the newest resident company at the Aronoff Center, as well as the first and only African American company at the renowned venue, Revolution celebrated by producing “Our Turn,” a show where, instead of focusing on a particular genre of dance, they showed they could “do it all, baby.”
The concert began with a special guest performance by P&G’s Voices of Destiny, who did fantastic performances of McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and Donald Lawrence’s “Seasons.” Both selections proved to be integral to the production’s theme as the RDT Company took the stage. For the next two hours, my wife and I watched in proud amazement as the troupe of mostly black teens performed with grace, passion, intensity and precision that generated thunderous approval from the audience.
Highlights from the show included the Company’s opening piece, “Tomber Amoureux.” Showcasing the troupe in different pairings, each dancer did an amazing job performing complex ballet choreography to various Neo-Soul classics such as “Chocolate High,” “Brown Skin” and “Brown Sugar.” Another amazing moment was the preview of the April concert, “shOUT!” The preview thrust company member Nicholas Segar in the spotlight as he conveyed the experience of attempting to reconcile faith with sexuality through powerful movement.
As he gave his closing remarks, he made it a point to mention how important it was to keep moving Black culture forward and provide opportunities to our youth now so that we don’t keep losing them to New York, Chicago, Dayton and other cities that provide more opportunities for African American dancers. As a person heavily involved with Cincinnati’s rich arts scene, I was thoroughly impressed and proud of what Choate and Revolution Dance Theatre produced for their coming out party. As a black man, I agree with David’s sentiments, and they have my support.
“shOUT!” premieres at the Aronoff Center on Saturday, April 11, 2020.
Andre DuBois is the Engagement & Event Coordinator at ArtsWave. Outside of that, he is also a songwriter, producer, musician and protector of soul music and African American culture.