Charles O. Anderson : Dance Theatre X. With special guest Ursula Rucker

Charles O. Anderson is currently based in Austin, Texas where he is an associate professor of African Diaspora Dance Studies and the MFA coordinator in Dance at The University of Texas at Austin. He is artistic director of dance theatre X (dtX), an afro-contemporary dance theatre company, which he founded in Philadelphia in 2003. Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Charles earned his BA in Choreography and Performance from Cornell University and his MFA in Dance from Temple University. He has performed in the companies of Ronald K. Brown, Sean Curran, Mark Dendy and Miguel Gutierrez among others. His work has been presented nationally and internationally and has earned recognition by numerous grants and organizations such as the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine, and one of ‘12 Rising Stars in the Academy” by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education Magazine.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: I am an artist-activist-educator with an intellectual bent- I am a kinetic storyteller. I am moved to create dance theatre that bear witness to human experiences through the cultural lenses of the African Diaspora (yes-there are many cultures that comprise the Diaspora!). I am committed to working with traditional and contemporary boundaries of African derived movement. At the same time I am committed to subverting, confronting, and challenging deeply entrenched, two-dimensional public perceptions of work for the stage that stands on African and African American aesthetics. My goal is to create work that gives testimony. Testimony is the declaration of truth integral to the African-American oral and literary tradition, going back to the slave narrative and folk practices. Testimonies can give praise and they can boast. They can also attest to suffering and injustice. The ultimate goal is to move the audience. To testify is to tell the truth; it is a form of story-telling based on the personal truth of the teller(s). It is used to allow the storyteller to connect with those who hear the testimony, as well as to a higher plane of being.

Ursula Rucker is a Philadelphia born poet, mother, activist and recording artist. She has been performing, recording and releasing works for over 17 years. Ursula has traveled and toured extensively, throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa…sharing her poetry…her heart and soul. She is dedicated to art as/for social change…and committed to freedom fighting, truth-telling and peace-(and a little trouble 😉 making through her chosen art form. To date, Ursula has released five solo albums (Supa Sista, Silver or Lead, ma’at mama, Ruckus Soundsysdom, SHE SAID)…as well as collaborated on over 50 songs, in a wide array of musical genres, with producers/artists from around the world (such as King Britt, Bahamadia, The Roots, 4 Hero, Jazzanova, Louis Vega, Incognito). Ursula was awarded both the Leeway Foundation’s Art for Change & Transformation Awards. She is the feature of a documentary short called POET. And currently, she has just completed her first book, Drown the Devil…a collaborative project of poems and photos dedicated to New Orleans with Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist, Clarence Williams.

Jeremy Arnold received his B.A. cum laude, from Muhlenberg College in 2012 where he double majored in Dance and Media and Communications. He was the 2012 recipient of the Dorothy and Dexter Baker Foundation Award in Dance. Jeremy is a former member of Tap City Youth Ensemble under the direction of the American Tap Dance Foundation. He was the featured tap soloist in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s tribute to Gene Kelly under the direction of Marvin Hamlisch. Jeremy is also a performing member of the nationally touring Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers and New York based MazelToes. In addition to performing, Jeremy is also on the faculty of Dance Olympus/DanceAmerica, DMA, and Cecchetti Council of America’s Summer Intensive. He is currently signed with DDO Artists Agency and is based in New York City. This is his first season with dance theatrte X.

Karama Butler was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She began her dance training at the School at the Cincinnati Ballet Academy and continued her studies at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts and the Jeraldyne Blunden’s School of Dance (DCDC). She danced with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Second Company for the 2004-2005 Season and has also studied at the Ailey School and at Jacob’s Pillow. Karama has worked with such noted choreographers/dance companies as Abdel Salaam/Forces of Nature, Nathan Trice’s Rituals, Kate Watson-Wallace, Jumatatu Poe/Idiosyncrazy Productions, Robert Battle, Milton Myers, Zane Booker, Kevin Ward, and Troy Powell. She is currently a Ballet and Contemporary Instructor at Northern Valley Dance Academy in North Jersey. This is her sixth season with dtX.

Dina-Verley Christophe is a Philadelphia native and the current Post Graduate Fellow in the Department of Theater and Dance at Dickinson College. In addition to completing her BFA in dance at The University of the Arts, she also studied and performed with renowned scholar and choreographer Dr. Kariamu Welsh, who sculpted her ideas about African derived movement and performance. Holding an MFA in choreography from Temple University, Dina continues to explore her contemporary take on making African derived movement art in hopes that the world will want to clap, do a two step or head bob to a banging beat! Dina has been performing with dance theatre X since 2007.

Danielle Currica was born in Guyana, South America, and raised in Memphis Tennessee, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Dance and Choreography in 2009. Relocating to Philadelphia as a freelance dance artist, Danielle has been working with Charles O. Anderson of Dance TheatreX, Jumatatu Poe of idiosynCrazy productions, Meredith Rainey of Carbon Dance Theatre among others, and is ‘Sophie Sucre’ of Philadelphia’s neo-burlesque troupe The Peek-a-Boo Revue. She also currently works as a Program Associate for Dance/USA Philadelphia under director Lois Welk; and is an assistant to Donna Faye Burchfield, Director of the School of Dance, at University of the Arts. Danielle would like to give continued thanks to her family for their love, support, and continued guidance. This is her third season with dance theatre X.

Johnnie Mercer, Jr. is a native of Richmond, Virginia and a graduate of the Appomattox Regional Governors School where he founded and is artistic director of the project based collective The Mercer Project. A BFA graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University in Dance and Choreography, Mr. Mercer is proud to begin his first season with the dance theater X family. Mercer has had the privilege of performing in works by numerous emerging and established artists including: Martha Curtis, Reggie Wilson, Kate Weare, Scott Putman, Christian von Howard, Twyla Tharp, Martha Curtis, Shen Wei, Paul Taylor, William Forstyhe, and most recently Bill T. Jones. His dance training spreads across techniques and in numerous environments including; The Ailey School, The American Dance Festival, and The Richmond Ballet of Virginia. As a choreographer, Mr. Mercer’s choreographic work has been seen and presented at The American Dance Festival, The Appomattox Regional Governor School, the High School Dance Festival, Henrico High School, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Student Concert series and most recently at Dogtown Dance Theater’s, “Looking Forward”.

Alvin Rangel: Alvin Rangel began his professional career performing ballet and jazz in his native Puerto Rico. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Dance at California State University, Fullerton. During 2013, Alvin will present his project Tango Vesre both nationally and internationally. For nearly a decade, he performed with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) where he originated roles and worked with Bill T. Jones, Bebe Miller, Dwight Rhoden, Donald McKayle, Ronald K. Brown, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Doug Varone, Kevin Ward, among many others. In Puerto Rico, he taught, danced and choreographed for Andanza Contemporary Dance and in Houston danced with Ad Deum Dance Company. As a dance educator, Alvin has conducted master classes and workshops in the United States, Russia, Poland, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Many professional and pre-professional companies in Puerto Rico and the USA have performed his choreography. Alvin holds a B.A. in Secondary Education from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Texas at Austin. This is his first season with dance theatre X.

Miko Doi-Smith, originally from southern California, began dancing while attending the University of Hawaii. This later than usual start toward a professional dance career fueled her drive and passion for an art that she believes is not only an inspiration for the soul but a medium for social change. During her ten years in residence in Philadelphia she performed nationally and internationally with various choreographers and companies including Dance Theatre X, Ralph Lemon, Philadanco, Ballet X, Kate Watson-Wallace, Makeda Thomas and Tania Isaac. In addition to performing she has been a registered nurse for 18 years and has taught yoga for over 14 years including Bates College Dance Festival and the Guong Dong Modern Dance Festival. She currently resides in Austin with her partner, Adam and daughter, Miyeko.

Ashley Sleeth began extensive modern and ballet training at Dreyfoos School of the Arts, a performing arts high school in West Palm Beach, FL and graduated from Muhlenberg College in May 2011 with a BA in dance and Spanish. She most recently choreographed at The Yard under the artistic direction of David White on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, MA. She has danced in Fraulein Maria with Doug Elkins’ and Friends (July 2011), in Crucible by Alwin Nikolai at his Centennial Celebration hosted by Hunter College (April 2011) and with Nicholas Leichter Dance in the company’s version of The Whiz (January 2011). She has also worked with choreographers: Nicole Wolcott, Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Corrie Franz Cowart, Karen Dearborn, Monica Bill Barnes and Heidi Cruz-Austin. In May 2010, she performed at the Kennedy Center for ACDFA Nationals in Rite, choreographed by Charles O. Anderson and began interning with dancetheatrex that summer. She has presented her own choreographic works at the ACDFA Northeastern Conference (2011) where her piece was chosen to be presented in the region’s Gala, at the ACDFA Mid-Atlantic conference (2010) and at various student concerts held at Muhlenberg College (2008-2011). Having taken time off to travel and work (student loans are expensive!), Ashley was really excited to be made a professional member of dancetheatreX for the first time during the summer of 2012! She is currently living and working in Los Angeles.

Video Link to Restless Natives Preview Performance at Temple University:

This project was made possible through support from The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Theatre and Dance, Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, The American Dance Festival, The Fusebox Festival, and New York Live Arts where it will be presented immediately following this world premiere performance in Austin.

Fusebox Performances