Celebrating Dance of the African Diaspora
The Association of Dance of African Diaspora (ADAD) is a national organisation that supports the practice and appreciation of dance of the African Diaspora. ADAD’s vision is to see dance of the African diaspora move from the margins to the mainstream and become a visible and valued part of the British cultural experience. As ADAD returns to the Southbank Centre, with its annual Bloom festival which explores and celebrates dance from Africa and its diaspora; Judith Palmer, chair of ADAD’s board, explains it is important to do so within the cultural landscape of the UK?
Judith Palmer: This year’s theme focuses on Dance of the African Diaspora in Europe. The artists and choreographers for the performance and workshops are based in or work across Europe, which highlights the breadth of talent growing in the Diaspora. The programme will provide a taste of Africa, Caribbean, Brazilian, Hip-Hop and Contemporary dance. We have included established alongside emerging artists and choreographers as well as youth dance companies to capture the development of the various art forms. We have also programmed a symposium to explore the subject with key leaders in the dance sector, artists and choreographers to highlight their experience, aspirations and challenges working in the various regions including Norway, Brussels and UK. We believe that by bringing together such strategic relationships Dance of the African Diaspora will be represented appropriately on a global perspective and continue to be valued in its past, present and future forms.
Belinda: ADAD has the core mission of seeing dance of the African diaspora move from the margins to the mainstream, in what ways do you believe this year’s festival further aids that mission and brings dance practitioners, from dancers to choreographers to a more main mainstream audience?
Judith Palmer: The Bloom Festival took place in 3 different regions in the UK this year, which is a significant advancement to 2009. The key to the transition from the margins to mainstream is a relationship with prestigious venues like The South Bank Centre and the new Dance Centre purpose-built for Phoenix Dance theatre and Northern Ballet inLeeds. Bristolhas a thriving arts community, and our presence there this year boosted not only the confidence of local artists but also enabled networks to help raise their profile on a national level. Events like Bloom ensure that Dance of the African Diaspora becomes visible and valued as part of the British Cultural Offer
Belinda: How would you describe the work ADAD is currently doing, year in and year out, and what should the audience expect from this year’s festival?
Judith Palmer: The work we do concentrates on the professional development of dance of the African Diaspora. We are currently working on consolidating our national profile; this will be facilitated by the continued development of partnerships and collaborations with significant organisations whose ethos is similar to our own.
Belinda: Why is it important to explore dance from the African Diaspora within the theatre dance landscape of the UK?
Judith Palmer: It is important because there are preconceptions of these dance forms which relegate them to a leisurely activity; when in fact there are techniques involved that can only enhance the dance theatre landscape in the UK whilst remaining synonymous with its multicultural landscape.
Belinda: How crucial is the work ADAD does in bridging the gap that exists between African Diaspora dance practitioners and the audiences hungry to see their work in the UK?
Judith Palmer: ADAD’s work is crucial to the education of both parties; firstly a need for practitioners to learn to adapt and function within the mainstream sector and for audiences to appreciate the diversity within these dances forms.
Belinda: How would you describe the current state of the contribution of African Diaspora dance practitioners: dancers, choreographers and those who work behind the scene playwrights to the dance landscape of Britain?
Judith Palmer: The state of dance of the African Diaspora has been vibrant and accessible especially over the last 3 years. There has been significant growth in appreciation and collaboration between dance artists, choreographers and other artists working behind the scenes. This vibrancy has led to increased interest from playwrights, sculptors, researchers and archivists; in addition, the internet has helped to facilitate cultural exchange, research programmes and documentation, which has led to the development of discourse at Higher Education Level.
Belinda: what do you want to evoke and provoke in the audience from this year’s festival?
Judith Palmer: We would like as much representation as possible from the British audience to know about, take part in and value Dance of the African Diaspora in all its forms to be embedded in British Culture. Most people are unaware of the context within which the dance forms are presented both at community and Theatre level. It is important that they know this and that it is very visible to them.
To find out more about ADAD, go to: The Association of Dance of African Diaspora
For Bloom festival, go to: ADAD Bloom Festival