Dance takes center stage at black college conference

April 08, 1993|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,Staff Writer

The dates of two Morgan State University dance performances were listed incorrectly in yesterday's Today section. The Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble will perform 8:15 to night in the Murphy Fine Arts Center at Morgan State University. The student showcase will take place tomorrow at the same location. Call (410) 319-3463 or (410) 319-3080.

The Sun regrets the errors.

With the exception of major figures like Alvin Ailey and Katherine Dunham, African-Americans' contribution to American dance has been all but ignored, says Iantha Tucker, a dance historian and choreographer at Morgan State University.

"We have been involved in dance -- modern, ballet, tap, street and social dances, Broadway musicals -- from the very beginning," Ms. Tucker says. But black trailblazers in dance "don't get the [same] kind of recognition," she says.


Such omissions deny black dance students a large part of their cultural heritage, Ms. Tucker says.

The 12th annual Black College Dance Exchange, taking place at Morgan today through Sunday, is one way to correct that historical slight, Ms. Tucker says.

The conference, "brings us together to learn about our heritage and about the fact that we have many people who are working really hard all over in all of the dance forms," Ms. Tucker says.

It is also a way to introduce students to the full range of black dance. Often, Ms. Tucker says, they don't know the basics; that the Charleston is of African origins, for example. Or that there is a long tradition of black ballet companies in the United States, including the American Negro Ballet, which flourished in the late 1930s, and the New York Negro Ballet, which was at its peak in the 1940s and 1950s.

As African-American dance students gain a working knowledge of their own traditions, Ms. Tucker hopes that black colleges will also recognize the cultural wealth that has accrued among African-American dancers.

Many schools, including Morgan, relegate dance to their physical education departments, she says. Ms. Tucker wants to see dance become a full-fledged department at Morgan and elsewhere.

Participation in the dance exchange has increased from a handful of black schools to 30, Ms. Tucker says.

About 300 students and educators from black colleges throughout the country will hear lectures, take master classes and see one another dance in a Saturday night showcase.

Students may also audition for summer dance programs run by the Alvin Ailey troupe, the American Dance Festival and the Philadanco company.

As part of the conference, two pioneers in dance, Doris Jones of the Jones/Heywood School of Ballet in Washington, and Pearl Primus, a dance choreographer and scholar, will be honored tonight at a banquet. Following the banquet, the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble performs in the Murphy Fine Arts Center.

Black Dance Exchange

What: Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble.

Where: Murphy Auditorium, in Murphy Fine Arts Center at Morgan State University.

When: 8:15 tonight.

Admission: $20 general admission; $12 students. Tickets on sale at the door.

Call: (410) 319-3463 or (410) 319-3080.

What: Student showcase.

Where: Murphy Auditorium.

When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Admission: $10 general admission; $5 students.

Phone: (410) 319-3463 or (410) 319-3080.

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