Sway Magazine: Deeper than Dance

Posted in culture, funky snob on April 8th, 2011 by urbanguy

To get a sense of what Dance Immersion is, you must first grasp what it’s not. And what it’s not is simply a dance company, says organization founder Vivine Scarlett.

A former dancer, Scarlett was driven to do more than just dance. She had a vision of building a foundation for a thriving and sustainable dance community geared around Black culture. “We’re a presentation company specializing in dance, primarily involving rhythms from the African diaspora,” says the choreographer, instructor and dancer.

Interviewed the amazing Ms. Scarlett for the Spring issue of Sway Magazine! Check it out in print or at Sway Magazine Online.

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the urbanguy chronicles: an original web series (coming soon!)

Posted in culture, funky snob, music, TV on January 29th, 2011 by urbanguy

One journalist. One camera. Many fascinating people.  Join Ryan B. Patrick (aka The UrbanGuy) as he conducts one-on-one interviews with many of Canada’s hottest tastemakers — profiling the best in art, film, music, culture and more.

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A little something I’ve been working on. Fun stuff. Expect the first episode (featuring Toronto rapper/producer More or Les) in early February.

Black Panther Cartoon!

Posted in culture, general on January 26th, 2010 by urbanguy
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I actually have no expectations for this. Black Panther is one of my fav Marvel superheroes but I intensely dislike Hudlin‘s take on the character. I really miss Priest’s Panther.

Damn cool.

Priest’s take on T’Challa was nuanced, cool, flawed, enigmatic. Hudlin basically stripped away all of the subtleties and shoehorned in some forced socio-political commentary to boot. So not feeling it.

That said, I may give the BET series a quick look. Or I may not.

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UrbanGuy’s Five Underrated Michael Jackson Songs

Posted in culture, film, funky snob, music, words on July 2nd, 2009 by urbanguy

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It’s been a full week since Michael Jackson passed on and I still can’t believe it. Usually when I hear about a celebrity dying, my reaction is nowhere near as it was when I heard this news.

Dude was only 50…I shouldn’t have been hearing this for at least another 20-30 years.

This honestly feels like a relative passing…it’s a truly strange feeling. Everything that could be said has already been written (and arguably more eloquently), but for me he was a supremely talented individual who stands as a tragic genius, a symbol of the transformative power of music…that and the fact that we typically don’t appreciate something ( or someone) until it’s gone.

It’s weird that listening to his music now adds a richer context, a deeper sense of meaning…a growing realization that we will likely never witness someone so musically talented in our lifetime. His achievements will likely never be topped, and the chance of an individual so thoroughly dominating and captivating the music culture consciousness will never be duplicated.

For me, the favourite MJ songs are the underrated ones, the ones that you probably won’t hear in any mainstream tribute. This list is by no means definitive (or in any particular order), but here is five of my  beloved and underrated Michael Jackson tracks:

Heaven can wait: 2001′s Invincible was vastly underrated. Poorly promoted (MJ was in the throes of a huge public/media backlash) Heaven Can Wait is a testament to the fact that even through he was prone to screaming his vocals rather than singing at this point in his career, he could still throw down when he wanted to. Great lyrics, fab production (check out that amazing bridge where his vocals get progressively stronger before it climaxes). Great track.

Butterflies: If you’ve heard Floetry’s demo version of this, you greatly appreciated Michael’s uncanny knack for making any song his own. Another one off the Invincible album, Floetry’s version is good but MJ’s emoting on this joint makes the song for me. Just a great song.

Happy: “Suspended between time and space…” Love, love this song that people not many people have heard from the Music & Me LP. Listen to that classic 1970s orchestral sound…haunting and beautiful at the same time. If you don’t smile while listening to this track, something is seriously wrong with you.

Get on the floor – This track from the seminal Off the Wall just could have easily been a single. Off the Wall was Jackson’s groundbreaking LP but that are more a  couple of tracks that should have been more popular. This is one of them for sure. Just a damn cool funky disco groove…sounds like a song that would have been played early to get the party started.

Morning glow: Michael transforms a sappy track from a 1972 Broadway musical into a hidden gem of a song. Even if you don’t know who Pippin (son of Charlemagne) is, you know that Mike sings the hell out of this song.  Off his Music & Me solo album, the vocal control and range for someone so young is magical. Even the backstory (Pippin is a young princely lad looking for something to make his life worth living for) is vividly ironic.

Thanks for the great music Michael.

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Nurse.Fighter.Boy

Posted in culture, film, general on February 8th, 2009 by urbanguy

nurse-fighter-boy

“Nurse.Fighter.Boy is a rich exploration of the connections between the healer, the warrior and the child of its title…”

I’m curious to see this flick.

It’s awesome that films like Nurse.Fighter.Boy actually get to see the light of day in Canada — which is why I’m extra hopeful that it’s actually good.

I dig Charles Officer’s cinematic style so I’m definitely checking this out. Plus it’s got Clark Johnson AKA Meldrick.

meldrick lewis

MELDRICK!

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Caribbean Jazz Show Mixes Old With New

Posted in culture, music on April 28th, 2006 by urbanguy


David Rudder and Andy Narell

Caribbean Jazz Show Mixes Old With New
By Ryan B. Patrick
Entertainment Writer
Pride News Magazine
April 26, 2006

The Caribbean jazz concert, held earlier this month, at Toronto’s Mod Club, comprised an energetic exercise in musical fusion.

Featuring elements of jazz, spoken word, hip hop beat boxing and calypso, from both emerging artists (calypso-fusion group Kobo Town and local spoken word artists Anne-Marie Woods, Al St. Louis; along with beatboxers Subliminal and Eddy Da Original One), and established artists (steel pan wizard Andy Narell and the legendary calypsonian David Rudder), the concert was a sublime synthesis of tradition and innovation.

The concert, organized by the Toronto-based Nu Jazz Society, is the third in a series of concert events (the first two events featured Salome Bey and Roy Ayers, respectively).

The group is currently planning a Brazilian/Latin jazz event, in the coming months, says Nu Jazz Society executive director Graham Reid.

The group hopes to change people’s minds about jazz, by incorporating musical elements not widely known to be associated with the genre, according to Reid.The event was also a reunion of sorts, pairing Rudder (known as the “Man with the Message”) with Paris-based steel pan luminary Narell. Narell is the co-leader of the Caribbean Jazz Project and has pioneered the position of Afro-Caribbean steel pan in contemporary music.

The two have collaborated in the past, Rudder told Pride News Magazine before the event. “It’s like a reunion of old friends,” Rudder says. The Belmont, Trinidad native, who, today, calls Toronto home, is a dynamic entertainer and has been touted as one of the top Calypsonians of his generation.

Rudder performed his classic hits such as “The Hammer” and “Trini 2 De Bone”, in his inimitable style. Caribbean jazz is simply jazz from a West Indian context, Rudder says. “It uses the instruments from the Caribbean to create a different voice,” he adds.

And, when it comes to the current generation of calypso artists, things are looking up, Rudder says. There are a lot of emerging artists who are upholding the traditional elements of the music.

As for Rudder, he recently completed a Broadway-styled musical which premiered in Guyana. In addition to working on new music, Rudder says he hopes to bring the musical to Canada sometime next year.


Kobo Town

Relatively new to the Toronto music scene is the band Kobo Town. According to bandleader Drew Gonsalves, Kobo Town is named after the famous neighborhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where traditional calypso (kaiso) was born.

This 8-piece multicultural ensemble (Osvaldo Rodriguez, Roger Williams, Derek Thorne, Stich Wynston, Cesco Emmanuel, Ravi Jadoonanan, Linsey Wellman and Gonsalves) fuses Trinidadian roots music with elements of improv-based jazz and groove.

Born in Trinidad, the singer-songwriter says he used to primarily listen to dub music but started a love affair with traditional calypso music, after moving to Canada as a youth.

“When I came here, I became very nostalgic for home. I started reading a lot about West Indian politics and history,” says Gonsalves.

It was delving into the musical history of Trinidad, and about artists such as Roaring Lion, Mighty Spoiler, Lord Invader, Gonsalves says, that alerted him to the richness and depth of the culture.

“The band is very dedicated to calypso and Trinidadian music and the message in the songs,” he says. The music that is kaiso is commonly narrative in form, and carries a cleverly concealed political subtext. This is the tradition Kobo Town is upholding, Gonsalves says.

He founded and fronted the Ottawa-based reggae/calypso/funk fusion group Outcry, in 1992, and, after moving to Toronto, formed Kobo Town in 2004. The band is currently putting the finishing touches on their debut album, which should come out in the next few months.

The band performed a lengthy and well-received set of politically- and socially-charged songs. “I try not to be overly preachy, and I try to rely a lot on imagery,” Gonselves says of the issues the band touches upon. For example, the song “Abitina” deals with domestic violence, “Corbeaux Following” speaks on poverty and desperation in Trinidad, while “Blood and Fire” speaks about globalization.

“I am definitely pleased with the reaction so far,” Gonsalves says of the positive feedback and critical acclaim the band has been receiving so far.

“There is a lot of positive energy in the band, and I think that spills out into the shows.”

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Caribbean African Radio Network Wins Broadcasting Licence

Posted in culture, music on April 14th, 2006 by urbanguy

Caribbean African Radio Network Wins Broadcasting Licence

By Ryan B. Patrick
Pride Entertainment Writer
April 12, 2006

TORONTO, Ontario — There will soon be a new Black-oriented radio station broadcasting on Toronto airwaves.
It was announced this Monday that the Caribbean African Radio Network’s (CARN) commercial radio application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been approved.
The bid was spearheaded by CARN president Fitzroy Gordon – the popular Jamaican-born radio personality, television host and newspaper columnist. Gordon says the new CARN FM station will provide a dedicated community voice – via 24 hour daily programming – for the more than 500,000 Caribbean and African residents in the Toronto area.
The specialty commercial station would serve the community by covering local and international news and events, and also by providing a much needed social dialogue on issues of concern affecting the Black community, Gordon said.
This marks the second time CARN has applied for the licence – a similar bid was denied in 2002.
“It hasn’t sunk in it,” Gordon told Pride News Magazine hours after the news was announced.
“I’m going to give thanks and praise to the Maker for this wonderful day.”
Gordon, a well-known member and supporter of the African Canadian community, has been working to establish a Black-oriented radio station since 1998.
“I decided that I wanted to do something special, from a broadcasting point of view, for my community. I wanted to see a station that was designed to serve the Caribbean and African community, 24 hours a day, where we could have talk shows and forums that would edify our youngsters and hear their views,” he added.
But there are specific stipulations on the new broadcasting licence.
Gordon must now incorporate CARN as a corporation and submit, within three months, an amendment to the application that proposes a suitable FM frequency for the new station.
The CRTC (the body which regulates the Canadian broadcasting industry) turned down CARN’s original request to operate at FM frequency 98.7 MHz (with an average effective radiated power of 508 watts) on the grounds it was too close to an established signal, namely CBC Radio 99.1 FM.
The new license will be fully granted once CARN proposes an FM frequency that the CRTC deems acceptable and technically feasible.
“It will be up to the engineers, and Industry Canada (the technical arm of the CRTC) will be working on it…to finalize the best frequency to serve our community,” Gordon says.
Once these conditions are met to the CRTC’s satisfaction, Gordon says he expects the station to be up and running by fall of 2007.
The new station is to be owned 45 per cent by Douglas Kirk of Burlingham Communications Inc. (a White-owned company) and 55 per cent by Caribbean and African Radio Network Inc., which in turn, is to be held 70 per cent by Global Communications International Inc. and 30 per cent by Delford L. Blythe of Blythe Business and Consulting Inc.
Gordon noted that the soon-to-be-formed board will consist of prominent members of the Black community.
The recent CRTC ruling reveals that there was solid opposition to CARN’s radio station bid, most notably from the African Canadian Social Development Council (ACSDC) and, interestingly enough, Milestone Radio Inc., owner of urban music station FLOW 93.5.
The ACSDC had expressed concerns that the application did not “adequately serve the radio and ownership interests of the continental African Canadian community in Toronto.”
Milestone Radio objected on the grounds that CARN would negatively impact FLOW 93.5 and also claimed that FLOW, along with the Toronto campus/community radio outlets, are satisfactorily meeting the listening needs of the community.
Gordon countered that the new station would serve the larger Caribbean and African population of the Greater Toronto Area, regardless of geographic heritage.
And as for FLOW 93.5, Gordon says that CARN attends to a specific need that he feels FLOW is currently not addressing.
“We’re going to do for our community what FLOW said they would have done and did not do,” Gordon says, adding that FLOW markets itself as an “Urban and Hip Hop” station that caters to a specific youth audience.
“A lot of people were reluctant to provide support for CARN because they were angry that FLOW did not carry through on their [community] mandate,” Gordon says.
But overall, the community response was positive and its overwhelming support really helped win this licence, Gordon notes.
“We received thousands of support letters from the public sector, private sector and the churches.”
CARN FM will target a broader demographic and provide family-based programming, and intends to fill a niche by offering a range of ethno-cultural diversity programming – including international news, music and sports – not currently covered by FLOW, Gordon says.
Indeed, the CRTC commission itself concluded that the proposed CARN station would have very little commercial impact upon existing Toronto radio broadcasters.
Once launched, CARN FM will broadcast daily programs dedicated to Caribbean and African local and international news, talk, sports, music entertainment and religion.
A typical broadcasting day, Gordon says, will include Gospel music in the early morning, hourly local and international newscasts, live sports broadcasts, talk shows, and “World beat” Caribbean and African music.
Spoken word programming would comprise 10 per cent of all CARN programming and the station will also include a minimal amount of “mainstream” music including R&B and Hip hop from artists of Caribbean and African descent.
Sports news would focus on the coverage of cricket, soccer and track and field events.
Featured programming would also cover issues including health, lifestyle, investments, law, immigration, and women’s issues.
Another key component of the radio service would be programming that focuses on a range of topics of interest to youth.
CARN is mandated to operate within the “Specialty Format” meaning that at least 50 per cent of weekly programming be specifically focused on World Beat and Non-classic religious music.
This includes a range of musical styles including: reggae, rock steady, and ska, from Jamaica; calypso and soca from Trinidad and other Caribbean islands; highlife from Ghana; Shona from Zimbabwe, juju from Nigeria; pan jazz from Trinidad; afro beat from Nigeria; bend skin from Cameroon and Chutney from Guyana and Trinidad.
It is this specialty format requirement that will distinguish CARN from other commercial radio services in Toronto, and ensures that CARN will always stick to its community mandate, Gordon says.
CARN will represent a new radio station with a clear vision and a proactive mission for the local Caribbean and African population and all Canadians in general, Gordon suggests.
“I am guaranteeing my people that I will not sway from my promise. My word is my honour,” he adds.

Louis Mercier: Black On Film

Posted in culture, film on March 23rd, 2006 by urbanguy

Louis Mercier: Black On Film
By Ryan B. Patrick
Pride Entertainment Writer
Pride News Magazine
March 22, 2006

In film parlance, the term “mise-en-scène” refers to almost everything that a filmmaker puts into the composition of the film shot, including the movement of the camera and characters, lighting, set design and overall visual environment. Quite literally, it means “put in the scene”.
For Louis Mercier, “mise-en-scene” is everything the young African Canadian filmmaker does and more. The talented writer, actor and producer recently accomplished an extraordinary feat when, not one or two, but three of his short films (Delivering Santiago, Toussaint and Perfect Pitch) were screened stateside, at the recent Delray Beach Film Festival in Florida.
Mercier’s films have been screened in Montreal, Detroit and Toronto, but this is the first time he’s had three films screening at once.
“It’s exciting,” Mercier tells Pride News Magazine over the phone. It’s an honour, as an African Canadian, to have all three films represented at the festival, Mercier says.
He notes that, while he helped produced the shorts, the films were also a collaborative effort. Delivering Santiago and Toussaint were written/directed by Tory Falkenberg, while Perfect Pitch was written/directed by David Eng, and Mercier acts in all three.
By his own accounts, the Haitian-born Mercier has been exposed to the performing arts his entire life. He immigrated to Canada in 1979, and notes it was long hours glued to the television screen that got him hooked on writing and performing.
“Growing up, television was almost like a nanny,” says Mercier. He got his start acting in school plays at the age of nine, which led to auditioning for indie film and working at a community television station.
He initially went to university to become an electrical engineer, while pursuing acting on the side. But the acting bug ultimately took over, Mercier says, and he decided to focus all his attention on the craft.
After a couple of acting gigs, including a prominent role in the Radio-Canada network television series, “Temps Dur”, Mercier eventually created his own production company (Soulion Entertainment) and added writing, directing and producing to his credits, with the short films Toussaint, Aces Down, Eye & I and Delivering Santiago.
Mercier describes the films as character-driven. Toussaint features Mercier as a Haitian-Canadian student who harbors an secret love for a fellow Indo-Canadian student. He is faced with the dilemma of risking humiliation by revealing his true feelings or forever losing her.
“I like to create films that speak out to people,” he says. Of all his films, Toussaint hits close to home, as it’s based on a true event, Mercier says.
One of many events in a decade’s worth of professional film and video experience, in front of and behind the camera.
“I’m primarily an actor…that’s where my passion lies,” Mercier says. So, in an industry where there is a distinct lack of roles for African Canadian actors, Mercier decided to branch out into producing in order to create his own opportunities. “Early on, I found out that, in order for me to be in front of the camera, I had to start projects from behind the camera,” says Mercier.
In addition to acting and producing, Mercier is adding the hat of director to his portfolio, and he notes that Soulion Entertainment intends to produce feature films, television programming, documentaries and stage productions designed to educate and entertain, while giving a much-needed voice to people of colour.
It’s a dog-eat-dog film world in Canada right now, Mercier says, adding, “I’m trying to show the cats in the industry that I’m a force to be reckoned with, and to take charge of my career.”

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Afua Cooper Delves Into Untold African Canadian History

Posted in culture on March 15th, 2006 by urbanguy

Afua Cooper Delves Into Untold African Canadian History

By Ryan B. Patrick
Pride Entertainment Writer
March 8, 2006

Afua Cooper’s latest book, The Hanging of Angélique, puts the spotlight on a chapter of African Canadian history some would like to believe never existed.
Cooper was on hand during a standing-room-only event at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel, recently, where she engaged in a lively conversation, about the untold and overlooked history of slavery in Canada, while onstage with poet/playwright George Elliot Clarke.
Most Canadians hold on the belief that slavery never existed in this country, but the history reveals otherwise, says Cooper.
Canadians have cultivated for themselves a belief that Canadians are good and moral people, Cooper offers, therefore, slavery didn’t exist here.
Yet it did.
The history of Black people in Canada goes deeper than the Underground Railroad, she adds.
Cooper recalls a few accounts where she’s been challenged on the existence of Canadian slavery; it is only after the facts are shown that people are forced to concede.
“It’s really hard for some people to accept that we had slavery in this country,” she says.
The Jamaican-born Cooper is a celebrated professor, poet and historian, and holds a PhD in African Canadian history – with specialties in slavery and abolition – and currently teaches history at the University of Toronto.
Her book, The Hanging Of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal (HarperCollins) is an engrossing and factual account of Canadian history.
Cooper spent 15 years researching the captivating account of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a Portugal-born Black slave in New France (now Quebec). The book notes Angélique was likely born a free woman, but was kidnapped and forced into slavery.
Unlike American plantation-style slavery, the Canadian system of slavery meant that Black people were often treated as house slaves or domestics.
But it was no less evil, Cooper notes, despite the fact Canadian slavery is often referred to as “benevolent” slavery.
“Here’s this story that flies in the face of that belief,” Cooper says. Africans were whipped and brutalized in the Great White North.
Cooper adds, the documents are here, but historians chose to ignore them.
The Hanging Of Angélique exposes and condemns the slave trade of New France, the New World and Europe.
The book carefully fuses scholarly research and rich prose, with detailed analysis of this unique slave account. Cooper also provides a wealth of detail, so much so, it’s almost easy to become overwhelmed by the subject matter. Central to the book is Angélique’s dramatic act of resistance, when, on April 11, 1734, after learning she was going to be sold, she allegedly set fire to her White master’s house in order to cover her escape.
“I don’t know if Angélique set the fire, but I believe she did,” says Cooper.
The fire engulfed and destroyed 46 buildings, in what is now known as old Montreal. The French wanted to make an example of Angélique, finding her guilty on circumstantial evidence, and sentencing her to death.
In June of 1734, Angélique was captured, tortured, paraded through the streets, then hanged and her body burned. Angélique’s heartbreaking tale serves as a potent and compelling symbol of Black freedom in Canada.
“She was a Black woman who felt alienated from the community. She was an oppressed woman…battling the system, trying to bring about her freedom,” Cooper says.
“The response to the book has been tremendous,” Cooper adds, noting that the most common question asked is: “How come this history isn’t widely known?”
“The book is appealing to people’s humanity,” she says, adding, the purpose of the book is not only to show that Canadian slavery existed, but to open up meaningful dialogue.
“This conversation has to happen,” Cooper concludes. “We have to move beyond the Underground Railroad; we have to move before the Underground Railroad, and we have to move into the future.”

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COBA: Set to Blow People’s Minds

Posted in culture on February 8th, 2006 by urbanguy

COBA: Set to Blow People’s Minds

By Ryan B. Patrick
Pride Entertainment Writer
Feb. 8, 2006

When co-founder of the Collective of Black Artists (COBA), BaKari E. Lindsey, first arrived in Toronto, eighteen years ago, he soon discovered the general public held steadfast to highly-romanticized notions of what African and Caribbean folk culture is all about.

There was the misconception that African and Caribbean dance had only to involve the traditional costumes, and anything outside of that was modern, or fusion.

photography by David Hou

photography by David Hou

“So many people think that the Caribbean is just straw hats and a drink with an umbrella,” says the Trinidadian-born Lindsey. “But they didn’t even get the original, so how would they know it’s fusion…There was this huge confusion about what our culture really is.”
Thus, COBA was born. Originally founded in 1993, by Lindsey, Junia Mason, Charmaine Headley and Mosa Neshama, the Collective was determined to fill a cultural void on Toronto’s arts scene and create a platform for dance creations that reflected Afro-heritage and social realities.
From the beginning, the quartet championed arts education, and developed, with educators in Ontario and New York State, to launch a school touring program with an African History theme.

With current co-artistic directors Lindsay and Headley, the group’s immediate mandate, Lindsey says, is to preserve the cultural traditions of Africa and the African Diaspora, through education, research and public performance – to let people see what the possibilities are for African and Caribbean folkdance.

COBA has toured Canada, the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, garnering critical acclaim for its genuine presentation of traditional African and Caribbean dance. The group has also commissioned works from world-renowned Africanist choreographers, including Senegalese griot Alassane Sarr; Jeanguy Saintus from Haiti; and internationally-acclaimed soloist Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe.

The group, now in its 13th mainstage season, has developed a highly spirited repertoire of traditional African, Caribbean and contemporary works for mainstage audiences. Every year, the group has presented a new work. This year, the group decided, was a time to reflect.

photography by David Hou

photography by David Hou

The latest show, “Deekali: Roots Relived” is a “greatest hits” of sorts, a representation of four signature past performances – Kumina, Domba-Go, Bodika and DjembeFola – that Lindsey says audiences were requesting to see again.
“Deekali” means “to revive” in the Senegalese Wollof dialect. The show’s imagery is based on the Akan symbol of the mythical bird– Sankofa – that flies forward with its head looking backward, reflecting the truism that knowing your past is the key to your future.
The show’s fusion of West African, Jamaican and contemporary dances reveals a certain commonality, a connecting historical thread within the African Diaspora.
“We decided to take some time to rejuvenate, to look at the body of work that we have done, over the years, and figure out where we are going to go from here,” Lindsey says.
The Collective has been an instrumental force in the evolution of the Toronto arts and culture scene, and has created for itself a place in the Toronto dance community, through its annual African History Month school-touring programs and student matinees.
“We’ve been charting our own waters,” Lindsey notes. “We have stuck firmly to our mandate of presenting traditional West African dance, Caribbean traditional folk and contemporary dance, as influenced by either of those two particular aesthetics.”
COBA has also made a significant contribution to Canadian dance ideology, in recent years, through the development and teaching of A-Feeree, the physical language.
Based on Lindsay’s ethnographic research, and taught exclusively at COBA’s performing arts school in Toronto, A-Feeree is a training method that assists dancers in navigating the physical aesthetics of African and African Diasporic dances. The method is gaining international recognition, Lindsey says.

While there is still much work to be done, Lindsey says the Toronto arts scene has changed for the better. It’s good that it’s evolved past the time where a group such as COBA would have been relegated to the fringes, he notes. But Lindsey welcomes more support, particularly from the African Canadian community.

“Now I would say that 90 percent of Toronto is culturally based,” Lindsay says. “People are challenging the stereotypes and notions of what the culture represents.” COBA itself is a prominent organization, with its own studio offering full-time dance instruction. While the company is committed to an African-centric voice, it welcomes all cultures to learn and dance.

“As long as you are willing to speak with that voice, you can dance with us,” Lindsey says, adding, the company exists for a bigger reason than just teaching people how to dance. “We just want to be positive role models for youth.”
It is also about learning the traditions to understand the cultural perspective. “It’s observing the social context in which movement exists and how that relates to dance.”
There’s this notion that culture and folk dance cannot aspire to be a higher art form because it is rooted in the past, Lindsey says.
The artistic director responds, “We can take our tradition and, once you know that tradition well enough, you can manipulate that tradition to create works that are so rooted in the present that it blows people’s minds.”
“Deekali: Roots Relived” takes place February 16 to 19, at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, at 404 Jarvis St. For more information, call (416) 658 3111, or visit www.cobainc.com.

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