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What: Haitian dance troupe Compagnie de Danse Jean-Rene Delsoin, presented by UNCW's Office of Cultural Arts
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2
Where: Kenan Auditorium, UNCW campus
Tickets: $20, free for UNCW students)
Details: 962-3500 or www.UNCW.edu/arts
There's no such thing as a singular Haitian dance any more than there is a singular American dance. Dance is global, and Jean-Rene Delsoin, a renowned Haitian choreographer, incorporates various influences into his art, fusing the bravado of African moves, the grace of ballet and mysterious voodoo gyrations into original works.
Delsoin's Compagnie de Danse will complete a week-long residency at the University of North Carolina Wilmington this week with a performance on Friday at Kenan Auditorium. The residency included workshops and demonstrations for Marines, UNCW students and area school students.
Delsoin said his work isn't exclusively Haitian. Several genres influence his dances, although the bold, bright colors and energy are more distinctly Haitian.
"It's like the pieces are completely different, but maybe with a signature at the end," Delsoin said during a phone interview last week.
Haiti has been brutalized by an earthquake that crippled the country in 2010. Courtney Reilly, the assistant director of cultural arts at UNCW, visited Haiti in May 2011. She said the images of poverty and destruction will forever be etched in her memory, but she found some hope amid the rubble and disorganization – an arts community that persevered despite the conditions.
"Those were the harshest conditions I've ever seen or experienced," Reilly said. "Despite that, the artists are so hopeful and committed to what they do. To go into a situation like that and still see people concentrating on their art, it's pretty inspirational. It's a testament to what the arts bring to humanity."
UNCW is conducting a cross-disciplinary program focused on Haiti. Students have been exposed to the small Caribbean nation's writing, photography, films and, now, dance.
UNCW has also had residencies from other dance companies – Dance Exchange last year, Contra Tiempo in 2010 and the Carolina Ballet in 2007 and 2008. Reilly said one reason is that the U.S. State Department subsidized the program through its Center Stage initiative. She also likes that Delsoin's company travels with three musicians that broaden the experience for those in attendance.
Primarily, though, she likes how dance engages people, especially during presentations to UNCW classes or middle school groups.
"There's something about getting up and moving that kind of breaks the ice," she sa 10/30/12 >> go there