“There are not many organizations that are geared towards the growth and connection of African-diasporic artists across generations, especially within Canada. This gap needs to be filled in order for the practices to be passed on, and for artists to grow and develop their work.”
dance Immersion is a charitable non-profit organization established by Vivine Scarlett in 1994 to produce, promote, and support dancers and dances of the African Diaspora.
The African Diaspora refers to communities around the world that are descended from the historic, primarily forced, movement of peoples from the continent of Africa.
We are excited to welcome dance Immersion as a partner of CBJ.
Join us in welcoming dance Immersion to our CBJ family and learn more about them.
We did a Q&A with dance Immersion’s team including Timea Wharton-Suri, Curator & Program Director; Vivine Scarlett, Founder / Executive Director; and Jillian Greyson Communications Assistant.
Your Mission is to advance and connect intergenerational dance communities through producing, promoting, and supporting dancers and dances of the African Diaspora. Can you explain why this is needed in the dance community?
Our organization was founded, and continues its work, because African Diasporic dance artists and the forms we practice are not treated equitably in the presenting system in Canada. Our movement forms are appropriated but not valued as artistically rigorous or diverse. It is important for presenters who understand African Diasporic forms to provide presentation, education and networking opportunities for the artists working within them. There are not many organizations that are geared towards the growth and connection of African- diasporic artists across generations, especially within Canada. This gap needs to be filled in order for the practices to be passed on, and for artists to grow and develop their work.
Can you talk about the history of African Dance?
Well, that’s like asking for someone to provide a brief history of European dance; it’s not possible. African dance is a broad term, as the continent itself is full of hundreds of different cultures and traditions. Most African dance forms that you see today are evolved from a traditional form of a dance that has been passed down from communities, elders, etc. Many traditional African dance forms hold a specific purpose and/ or are practiced for certain events, i.e festivals, lamentations, weddings, and much more. The styles that are labelled as “African” that have been seen more recently in the Diaspora are derivatives of traditional forms. Traditional African dance forms are also where many other dance forms such as tap, hip- hop, and Caribbean folklore originated from.
“Partnering with CBJ, and other companies alike, aid in us achieving our mission of connecting communities, educating Canadians on the beauty and diversity of African Diasporic forms, and providing growth opportunities for dance artists.“
Can you tell us about your programs? (in your own words)
Our programing is focused on three main platforms: presentation, incubation, and education.
Through presentation we provide space for dance-based works to be presented in indoor and outdoor theatrical spaces. We select and commission works in various dance styles by artists and choreographers from the African Diaspora living in Canada and abroad. With our in- studio presentation, emerging artists have the opportunity to receive feedback from more seasoned artists within the community, to aid in the betterment of their work. The presentations also provide opportunity for residencies, workshops and talkbacks. Our presentation programs also provide established, and mid-career dance artists from across Canada the opportunity to present on the Toronto stage, as well as artists and companies of the diaspora from around the globe.
Our incubation program consists of incubation helping professional artists develop new choreographic skills, create or expand dance works, and share works informally to gather feedback before they reach the performance stage. One of the ways in which we achieve this is through paid residency programming which provides access to free studio space, artist fees and mentorship by established artists, engaging both Canadian and international artists in the process. Here is where our in-studio presentations come into play once again, allowing artists to workshop their choreographic works in progress through a workshop series residency. This platform also includes the DOING OUR THING initiative which is designed for artists of all artistic disciplines seeking contemporary tools and ideas for exploring and expanding their artistic practices.
Lastly, we have our educational programs, which serve professional artists, youth interested in the arts, and the public. This includes live and online movement workshops, music practicums, and discussions on the current state of society as viewed through the artist’s lens. This is brought to the public through our workshop series, Bantabas, youth arts program (YAP), and our legacy series (which will begin later this year). We also have our mentorship program which periodically collaborates with other organizations to provide youth with substantial mentorship opportunities that develop their skills, knowledge, and self-esteem.
Through these programs we are able to achieve are mission, and better connect artists of the diaspora on a global scale.
What does it mean for Companies like CBJ to partner with you? And what do you hope will cultivate from our partnership?
Partnering with CBJ, and other companies alike, aid in us achieving our mission of connecting communities, educating Canadians on the beauty and diversity of African Diasporic forms, and providing growth opportunities for dance artists. Through this and other partnerships, we are able to better reach a broad range of communities and dance artists, especially emerging artists who may not be aware of us and provide support that will aided in their artistic growth.
Anything else you would like to add? We want our readers to have a full understanding of who danceImmersion is.
We have serval programs and events in the works for this season. We ask that readers follow us on our social media pages to keep up- to date with what we’re doing and subscribe our bi- weekly e- listings on our website to learn about community events, as well as news.
Learn more about dance Immersion and follow on social media.
Facebook: Dance Immersion