Temple Times Online Edition
    FEBRUARY 16, 2006
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Professor/choreographer Welsh to premiere solo piece in dance concerts


“You should never stop dancing,” said Temple dance professor and choreographer Kariamu Welsh. “I am simply practicing what I preach.”

She will indeed give her philosophy some feet when she dances a solo piece as part of the annual concert of her ensemble, Kariamu & Company: Traditions, Thursday–Saturday, Feb. 16–18 and Feb. 23–25 in the Conwell Dance Theater.

Titled “Mistress of the Dew,” it was created by guest choreographer Tamara Xavier, a doctoral candidate in dance. Inspired by a Haitian novel, the piece honors Welsh, who is Xavier’s thesis adviser.

“It resonates with the themes underlying this year’s concert: freedom and the celebration of who one is at the moment one is living,” Welsh said.

She began dancing when she was 16 and has enjoyed a professional career that spans more than three decades.

“I’m actually a very shy person. Dance gave me a voice — I found I could be bolder and say things through dance I probably wouldn’t say verbally. For me, dance is the visualization of words.”

A celebrated choreographer, she has received three Senior Fulbright Scholar Awards and a host of fellowships, including the National Endowment of the Arts Choreography Fellowship, the New York State Council on the Arts Minority Choreography and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Choreography fellowships, as well as the prestigious Guggenheim fellowship and the Pew fellowship.

She has authored two books as well as articles that have appeared in scholarly journals on the subject of African dance and culture, and she also writes poetry and short stories.

As artistic director of Kariamu & Company: Traditions, which she founded in 1970, she has recently pursued through choreography the African and contemporary dance genres to reach audiences with political, social and cultural commentary.

“I love designing and making bodies move in such a way that I’ve woven this narrative that’s seamless and leaves the audience with something,” said said.

Her return to dance performance has reaped some unexpected rewards.

“I was surprised at the ease with which I embraced her [Xavier’s] work. In a way, it embodies what I tell my students,” she said. “It’s more instructive to see everyone dance instead of just perfect bodies. Never stop striving, but the idea of not doing something unless you’re perfect has really crippled young people.

Kariamu & Company: Traditions dance concert
When: Thursday–Saturday, Feb. 16–18 and Feb. 23–25.
Where: Conwell Dance Theater.
Tickets: $10 general admission. Students and senior citizens pay $8; $5 students with a Temple ID. Tickets are available at the Liacouras Center box office, 1776 N. Broad St., Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., online at www.liacourascenter.com, or by telephone at 1-888-OWLS-TIX (discount tickets are not available for online or phone sales).

“Women, particularly, are harder on themselves because of what society is imposing. We have to start imposing back!”

Also on the concert program are pieces by guest choreographers C. Kemal Nance and Shavon Norris, and three choreographed by Welsh: “Sankofa-Ja!,” “The Museum Piece” and “Taking Flight,” which she based on a poem by Robert Hayden about African Americans taking flight from enslavement.

- By Harriet Goodheart