CoDa focuses on contemporary dance with a strong base in modern and ballet techniques. CoDa’s works incorporate dance with dramatic lighting and costume designs, still and animated projections, and, often, live music. Collaboration with other artists on campus is an important element, as are various resources and venues in the surrounding Berkshires. In addition to student dancers, budding choreographers’ works are often presented in the company’s programs.
Kusika takes its name from the Shona people of Zimbabwe. In their language, “kusika” means “to create.” Kusika is an ensemble dedicated to performing music, dance, and storytelling from Africa and the African Diaspora. The repertoire includes dance from classical, traditional, and contemporary social forms. Along with traditional dance and music, we also share in the art of storytelling, a medium through which history, culture, and traditions have been passed from generation to generation in African cultures.
The word “sankofa,” from the Akan people in Ghana, loosely translates to “reaching back in order to move forward.” Sankofa was formed in the fall of 1996 by five women from the class of 2000. Sankofa choreographs original material that incorporates popular song, drums, hip-hop, break dance, spoken word, poetry, and sheer creative ingenuity. Stepping features precise, synchronized, and complex rhythmic body movements, combined with singing, chanting, and verbal play. Student choreographers provide artistic direction.
The Zambezi Marimba Band plays marimba music from Zimbabwe and Ghana. The word “marimba” comes from the Bantu languages of Central Africa where it means “the wood that sings.” African slaves recreated marimba once they arrived in the Americas beginning in the 1600s. Founding artistic director Ernest Brown designed a set of chromatic Zimbabwean-style marimbas that allow The Zambezi Marimba Band to play Zimbabwean songs and jazz tunes.