Dancers survive the stage

On Saturday, March 31st at Harrison Auditorium, the E. Gwynn Dancers of NC A&T gave students, faculty and the community a cultural aspect of slave dance. This year’s theme was “Follow the Sugar Cane: Dances of Survival” which was inspired by Brazil, Jamaica and slavery.

On Saturday, March 31st at Harrison Auditorium, the E. Gwynn Dancers of NC A&T gave students, faculty and the community a cultural aspect of slave dance. This year’s theme was “Follow the Sugar Cane: Dances of Survival” which was inspired by Brazil, Jamaica and slavery.

The show started a little at 7:30 and started with a dedication to Eleanor Ray by song. After thank you’s and background information, the show started with “Harvest.” Ladies came out in African garment carrying baskets, singing songs and dancing. To add to the feel, experienced African drummers played to the beat which gave the audience and dancers enthusiasm. This set the tone for the rest of the night.

The most elaborate and different dance was called “Jonkonnu.” Students dressed up as different characters and created a miniature parade on stage. Students were dressed up as devils, soldiers, fan girls, police and pregnant woman. Some dancers even danced with doll houses on their head which amazed the audience. The cheerful music along with the danced aimed to each character made everyone feel as though they were in another country.

The performances also contained singing, poetry, bell players and live pictures from the different countries of inspiration. The show was exciting and everyone including, Chancellor Harold Martin and his wife, appeared to enjoy the show. This was one of the many showcases that displays the great talent on campus.

Regardless of the struggles, dancer Terrell Davenport, a junior dance concentration major from Warrington, N.C. thought they did well. “I have danced but have never been trained and this was a whole new ballgame for me. We did a lot of dances I didn’t know about and I had to get used to the moves and style of the company. In the end, we did great.”

The show sold over 100 patron tickets. All proceeds go to study abroad opportunities and scholarships for dance students. It also helps pay for the elaborate costumes used in the show.

Dr. Eleanor Gwynn, Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Professor of Dance at A&T, is the Artistic Director and Founder of E. Gwynn Dance Company. The inspiration, Brazil and Jamaica, came last summer when she took students to study abroad. “It took a year for me to prepare for this,” said Gwynn. “I start at the beginning of the semester and focus on it all school year.”

When asking Gwynn about the performance she thought it was close to perfect. “I have an aesthetic vision so I could see some things that were not in my vision, but the dancers surprised me that night. They came alive.”

Dr. Gwynn has already started thinking about next year’s show noting that it will be completelydifferent.

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  • Necole Jackson, Register Reporter