Sunday, July 22, 2018

Red Clay Dance Company Announces 10th Anniversary Season in Chicago

Red Clay Dance Company

World Premieres, Youth Ensemble Performances and More

Red Clay Dance Company (RCDC), which creates and performs a diverse repertoire of Afro-contemporary dance, celebrates its 10th anniversary season with fall and spring performance series by its professional touring company, showcases for its Youth Ensemble, and fundraisers to ensure its continued growth and success as it begins its second decade.
“We made it to 10 years—double digits,” exclaimed RCDC Founder and Artistic Director Vershawn Sanders-Ward. “This is a huge milestone for any organization, but especially an arts organization and even more for a dance company. In the midst of our current communal challenges, we remain committed to our work of ‘artivism’ to help build an equitable society. Now is the time to dig deeper, stay rooted, and fight for everyone’s voice to be celebrated and elevated! I am excited to share our creative work with our village and to continue to welcome new folks into the Red Clay Dance family.”
Opening the season is RCDC’s fall performance series, featuring the world premiere of EKILI MUNDA|What Lies Within, choreographed by Sanders-Ward and Jonas Byaruhanga, founder and director of Keiga Dance Company in Kampala, Uganda. The evening-length work seeks to unearth the cultural history and knowledge around identity that is archived in the body and the unapologetic liberation of this knowledge. EKILI MUNDA|What Lies Within represents the culmination of the TransAtlantic Project, a yearlong cultural exchange between the two internationally recognized dance companies. Performances take place November 8–10, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Tickets are available at A post-show fundraiser Tukwaniriza (“Welcome” in Luganda, the primary language in Kampala) reception takes place November 10 at 3 Flytes Loft, 2635 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago.

RCDC’s Academy and Youth Ensemble concludes its fall term with a Winter Sharecase on December 15, 2018 at Fuller Park Auditorium, 331 W. 45th St., Chicago. RCDC’s Academy, which offers year-round instruction, led to the development of the Youth Ensemble, which has begun to handle its own operations: the high school-age company members curate the concert, secure a performance space, plan the budget, and determine and execute all of the concert’s technical needs.

The third edition of La Femme, a festival of work by black female choreographers, takes place February 28–March 2, 2019 at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr., Chicago, a partnership with the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks. RCDC will issue a call for artists on August 1.
In May, RCDC presents the world premiere of Sanders-Ward’s Art of Resilience 2.0, a co-presentation with the DuSable Museum of African American History. The three-part evening-length work explores the theme of embodied resilience that lives inside of the black bodies found in Chicago’s historically disenfranchised communities. The work explores the history and culture behind Chicago’s unique house music and dance scene and represents multiple Chicago locations. Performances take place May 16–18, 2019 at the DuSable Museum of African American History’s Roundhouse, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago. RCDC’s Paint the Town Red, a post-show fundraiser, takes place May 18 on the Roundhouse’s outdoor patio. Tickets will be available in early 2019.

Concluding the season will be RCDC’s “Dance4Peace Youth Concert & Community Hug Awards” June 1 at 5 p.m. at Benito Juarez Community Academy, 1450 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago.

An important component in RCDC’s education programming is a workshop series, “Making the Artivist,” which cultivates the process of making art and combining it with activism. “We guide participants in activating their voice and civic engagement through movement or other art-making,” Sanders-Ward explained. RCDC has conducted this program at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center for the past five years. This summer, the program expands into several South Side communities, including Roseland, Pullman, and Washington Park.

Red Clay Dance Company lives to awaken “glocal” change through creating, performing, and teaching dances of the African Diaspora—change that transforms cultural and socioeconomic imbalances in our local and global community. Founder Vershawn Sanders-Ward conceived the idea of RCDC while on her first trip to Senegal, West Africa, when she became fascinated by the interconnectedness of dance and everyday life. The name Red Clay comes from her childhood memories of playing in red earth during her summers in Mobile, Alabama.

RCDC’s 10th anniversary season is supported by the Chicago Community Trust, the Field Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Springboard Foundation, the Polk Bros. Foundation, the Illinois Humanities Council, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. The creation of EKILI MUNDA |What Lies Within is supported by the International Connections Fund at the MacArthur Foundation. 

The 10th Anniversary Season Host Committee includes Ebony Ambrose, Jessica Bell, Amy Clark*, Belinda Farr*, Leslie Guy, Tam Herbert*, Kesha Jackson*, Jeff Perkins*, Jada Russell, Brea Sanders, Marilyn A. Sanders, and Ira Staples (* denotes RCDC board member).

For more information about RCDC and the 10th anniversary season, visit

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