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Award-winning choreographer, dancer and community leader Ronald K. Brown performs one of his solo works, offering a unique opportunity to see this master dancer in action. Legendary poet and activist Sonia Sanchez speaks with Brown about his work, the 25th anniversary of his celebrated dance company, Evidence, and their shared commitment to social change.
Choreographer Ronald K. Brown is the founder and Artistic Director of the celebrated Evidence, A Dance Company in Brooklyn, New York.
Brown uses movement as a way to reinforce the importance of community in African American culture and to acquaint audiences with the beauty of traditional African forms and rhythms. He is an advocate for the growth of the African American dance community and is instrumental in encouraging young dancers to choreograph and to develop careers in dance. Brown’s choreography is in high demand. He has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, Cleo Parker Robinson Ensemble, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Jennifer Muller/The Works, Jeune Ballet d’Afrique Noire, Ko-Thi Dance Company, Philadanco and others. He choreographed Regina Taylor’s award-winning play Crowns, and won an AUDELCO Award for his work on that production.
Sonia (Benita) Sanchez was born Wilsonia Driver Sept. 9, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a poet, playwright, and educator, noted for her black activism. Driver’s mother died when she was an infant and she moved with her father and siblings to Harlem, New York City, at age nine. In the 1960s, Sanchez was introduced to the political activism of the times and published poetry in such journals as The Liberator, the Journal of Black Poetry, Black Dialogue, and Negro Digest. Her first book, Homecoming (1969), contained considerable invective against “white America” and “white violence”; thereafter she continued to write on what she called the “neoslavery” of blacks, socially and psychologically unfree. She also wrote about sexism, child abuse, and generational and class conflicts. A good deal of Sanchez’ verse is written in American black speech patterns, eschewing formal English grammar and pronunciations.
Over the years Sanchez joined other activists in promoting black studies in schools, in agitating for the rights of African countries, and in sponsoring various causes. From 1966, she taught in various universities, finally assuming a permanent post as resident poet and member of the English faculty at Temple University (Philadelphia) in 1975. Later works include homegirls & handgrenades (1984), winner of an American Book Award, and Under a Soprano Sky (1986).
Jessica Lynne and DéLana R.A. Dameron reflect on ways they make a home, creatively, wherever they are.