Friday, November 8, 2019

Red Clay Dance Company: Words to Live By: Glocal

Words to Live By: Glocal

The leadership of Red Clay Dance Company explores themes and topics inspired by various words that resonate among its artists, students, administrators, and supporters. We will offer some examples in a series of stories this fall and ask for your responses to them as well.

This month, we continue with GLOCAL:
  • Reflecting or characterized by both local and global considerations
  • Of or relating to the interconnection of global and local issues

What does glocal mean to Red Clay Dance Company?
Vershawn Sanders-Ward, Founder and Artistic Director
We started using this word during our strategic planning process about eight years ago. My understanding is that it is more of a business term, but we adopted it because we felt that it reflects how we wanted our work to sit in the world. “Glocal” is obviously a combination of the words global and local and infers both the human body and society at large, a dichotomy I address consistently in my work. One definition of the word “local” in the dictionary is "pertaining to or characterized by place or position in space; spatial,” so this can mean the body as a local entity. Through movement, one can express global issues, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. 
Dance is a powerful form of communication. Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and her company, Urban Bush Women, and Ronald K. Brown are among my influences. Glocal could be applied to their work as well—the shaping of the local, or individual, to express the global, or universal. I want my work to inspire awareness of issues in all marginalized communities, to promote dialogue and discussion, and ultimately to become a call to action.”

Red Clay Dance Company
incorporates a glocal focus
in a number of ways. Our
 community engagement
and education work is
hyperlocal in that we
serve South Side
communities, school,
youth centers, churches,
parks, etc. We hire local
artists who aspire to see
their work on a global
level/platform (both
performing and teaching).
We aim to be a global
model for seamless
integration of teaching
and performing—both
on an equal playing
field and one informing
and influencing the other
within the company.
We connect local partners
and individuals to our
global partners, such as
Keiga Dance Company in
Uganda. We impact the
lives and future of
local youth who have the
potential to spread the
values and skills we
have activated in them
on national and global
 platforms/spaces. We
are aiming for more
exchanges like the one
we have with Keiga, but
also including teaching
and other creative
opportunities for our

We are standing in the
space of truly creating
a local community of
creatives with aspirations
for global impact!

Marceia Scruggs, company 
When I hear the term 

“glocal,” I imagine 
ginormous hands that 
stretch far beyond the 
Northern Lights. A wee 
droplet of blue dye into 
a half full glass—it prints, 
it splashes, it begins 
to reach. It breathes 
 expansion, both near 
and far. Glocal, I believe, 
is where potential and 
action are unlocked on 
both a wide range 
and more local 
community spectrum. 
In this world, necessary 
and relative topics of 
change are met, 
sparking inquiry, 
curiosity, and 

Whether through 

dialogue, performance, 
teaching, or 
collaborating, Red Clay 
Dance Company 
actively creates 
relative, resounding, 
and reflective 
 conversation that can 
be witnessed by a 
spectrum of people. 
From topics of the 
importance of 
community, to 
economic inequities, 
to ancestry, the 
company constantly 
generates vital 
dialogue and impact. 
Recently, I was 
fortunate to witness 
its Youth Ensemble, 
led by Chaniece 
Holmes, in a 
conversation on the 
needs of their 
community and how 
in particular this 
impacted them. At 
this moment, I was 
awakened yet 
again as to why this 
work is important. 
Red Clay Dance 
Company is actively 
birthing change 
agents near and far.

Catrina Franklin, vice chair, board 
of directors
In respect to Red Clay Dance 
Company, glocal means to 
impact the local environment 
with global influences and 
the opportunity for this 
company to expand globally. 
Red Clay Dance was created 
out of Vershawn’s global 
experience, but the company 
is on the move to be a global 
company giving back to the 
local community.

We’d like to know what GLOCAL means to you! Please email 
and share your thoughts with us.

Photos top to bottom:
Red Clay Dance Company and Keiga Dance Company performing EKILI MUNDA | What Lies Within (L–R: Marceia Scruggs, Robert Ssempijja, Chaniece Holmes). Photo by Raymond Jerome.
Vershawn Sanders-Ward teaching class at the Kampala National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda
Getting ready for the premiere of EKILI MUNDA | What Lies Within at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, November 2018.
Company member Chaniece Holmes performs in Art of Resilience 2.0 at the DuSable Museum Roundhouse.
Keiga Dance Company Artistic Director Jonas Byaruhanga leads a masterclass at Red Clay Dance Company's home space, Fuller Park.

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