Kusika and the Zambezi Marimba Band

Kusika & the Zambezi Marimba Band

Sandra L. Burton and Ernest D. Brown, directors

Renewing the Spirit

[WILLIAMSTOWN, MA, March 17th, 2010] – Kusika (traditional African dance and percussion), and the Zambezi Marimba Band in their ever popular spring concert will present Renewing the Spirit, an evening of dance, music and poetry inspired by the people of New Orleans, Haiti, Chile, Southern Africa and the U.S. It is a celebration of endurance in hard times and of self-renewal. Dance and poetry inform us of who we are and who we can become on the journey though life!  Zambezi will explore the rhythms of Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and South African jive compositions.

The performance will be April 9th at 8:00 PM and April 10th at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM on the ’62 Center MainStage, located at 1000 Main Street, in Williamstown, MA. Tickets are $3, free for children 10 years old or younger.

The Saturday 2 PM performance is a family matinee – no “shushing” allowed.

The Williams College Dance Program was founded in the 1970s, when women began attending the college. Joy Anne Dewey, the program’s first coordinator, established the program in the old second floor basketball court of the Lasell Gymnasium. In the tiny studio that was connected to the basketball courts, Ms. Dewey offered Williams students and community members a rich variety of experiences in dance.  Joy Anne Dewey founded the Williams College Dance Society and sponsored concerts and residencies featuring artists such as Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Meredith Monk.

The Dance Society evolved into The Williams Dance Company, a group which primarily focused on modern dance. It is the oldest of the five performance ensembles  in the Dance Department. Students study modern and ballet technique as well as improvisation. Nurturing  choreography is central to work faculty and guest artists do with company members. Dance Company is directed by Erica Dankmeyer’91 and Janine Parker is the Ballet Mistress.

In 1989, Kusika: African Dance, Music & Storytelling Ensemble was founded by faculty Ernest Brown, Sandra Burton, and Gary Sojkowski in collaboration with the Music Department. Kusika continues to learn techniques from the African continent as well as the Diaspora and uses them to create new music and dance. This company is directed  by Sandra Burton and Bashir Shakur.

Ernest Brown, an ethnomusicologist, founded the Zambezi Marimba Band in 1992 to explore Zimbabwean and Ghanaian music especially marimba, gyil and mbira playing techniques and compositions. Zambezi and Kusika often share residencies with guest artists and perform together every semester.

This year the Program became a Department, beginning a new chapter in its history at Williams. The department’s purpose is to educate students in the physical disciplines, cultural traditions and expressive possibilities of dance. The department continues to annually present professional artists residencies, concerts, master classes and field trips in an effort to bring students and other community members together for unique cultural experiences. Our students perform throughout the academic year and maintain outreach that connects the department to the community.