Ronald K. Brown's dance company Evidence is definitely Brooklyn-born and bred, but the troupe has always had strong ties to Atlanta. Currently, two of the company's six dancers are from the Atlanta area.
"I think there's something about the hunger and the fire and the openness that they share," says artistic director Brown of his dancers Annique S. Roberts and Otis Donovan Herring who both grew up in Atlanta. Brown says he recognized the same quality in them as he saw in former Evidence dancer Juel Lane, who recently founded his own company 2 Kids and a Dream in Atlanta. "It's definitely something that they all have in common that's pretty amazing."
There are three pieces on the program slated for the company's upcoming appearance at the Rialto on Nov. 19. "IFE/MY HEART," originally created in 2005, examines the common threads in the spiritual traditions between an African-American family, an Afro-Cuban family, and a West African family. "Basically they're all headed to the temple of God, regardless of their spiritual traditions," says Brown of the piece, which also draws on the various dance traditions of those cultures.
"Incidents" from 1998 takes its title from the slave-narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. "I was sort of curious about how the slave trade lives in the bodies of women," says Brown about the work, created for three female dancers and set to the music of the Staples singers and a young Aretha Franklin. "I wanted to show how they move in this current time with all the remnants of the slave trade in their bones." The program ends with a brand new work "On Earth Together," which uses the music of Stevie Wonder in a piece for the whole company.
All the pieces, Brown says, reflect his company's philosophy. "The idea behind choosing the name Evidence was that each of us as individuals represent our families, our ancestors, our teachers," he says. "When people came to see the work, I wanted the company to be a reflection of the human condition, people would see themselves, we would be evidence."