Making their First Thursday debut on Thursday, June 7 is Toronto-based ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company, a collective that celebrates LGBTTIQQ2SA communities though movement. The group will perform a specially commissioned work entitled Kaleidoscope in the AGO’s Signy Eaton Gallery, at 8 p.m. and 9:30 pm. We caught up with the collective’s founders Kumari Giles, Jelani Ade-Lam and Sze-Yang Ade-Lam to find out more.
AGO: What can First Thursday visitors expect from your work?
IN/DCDC: Kaleidoscope is a queer dance love story of self-love, family, friendship and fierce explosive movement, woven into a soundscape of soulful rhythm and blues, neo soul, jazz and mermaid punk.
AGO: Your company provides dance education. What can dance help people do that other artistic forms can’t?
IN/DCDC: Dance saved our lives by giving us an avenue to express our stories through our bodies. As Queer, 2spirit, Trans and Gender non-conforming artists, we’re very aware of the often difficult relationships, we and members of our community, have to our bodies. Our community often feels disembodied due to violence, homo/transphobia, societal rejection, disability or access issues.
We created our Right to Dance education program for marginalized LGBTTIQQ2S communities, prioritizing Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, to learn dance and movement in an affirming, accessible and anti-oppressive way, while creating platforms for these communities to tell their own stories on stage.
All art practices can be healing, but dance specifically has the ability to nurture a powerful loving relationship with your body. Dance asks you to trust yourself. These practices often bring a sense of confidence, which allows folks in our communities to heal and express and love themselves for who they are.
AGO: What inspired your First Thursday performance?
IN/DCDC: We wanted to create a piece that celebrated our identities, and the pride we have in who we have become. Kaleidoscope includes duets and solos expressing themes of friendship, body love, the love of nature and the truth it reveals while addressing self-love and a deep trust in each other. Our goal was to leave the audience with an understanding of why we celebrate ourselves and to hopefully encourage them do the same.
Don’t miss seeing ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company and other artists at this June’s First Thursday. Get your tickets now!
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