VCUarts The Anderson, in collaboration with the VCUarts Department of Dance + Choreography, is pleased to present Facets of Esoterics, an installation and series of performances by Sinclair Emoghene. The installation is on view at The Anderson Aug. 18 through Sept. 3 (open hours: Tues.–Fri. 12–6pm, Sat. 12–5pm). Performances include dancers Shanna Lims, Alfumega Enock, and VCUarts Dance Majors Jenna Beardsley, Jelani Taylor, and Sydney Wiggins.
Facets of Esoterics centers racial equity and embellishes the idea of dance as installation. The dance, derived from Nigerian social, ritual, and occupational dances, considers social locations and the impacts of the privileged in relationship to the marginalized.
Tuesdays 4:00–4:45 (Aug. 18, Aug. 25, Sept. 1)
Wednesdays 6:00–6:45 (Aug. 19, Aug. 26, Sept. 2)
Thursdays 4:00–4:45 (Aug. 20, Aug. 27, Sept. 3)
Attendance to the performances is free, though a reservation must be secured in advance. Attendance is limited to 5 guests per performance. Please note that visitors to The Anderson must maintain physical distancing when possible and wear a mask while inside the building.
Each performance is 45 minutes long and will take place in three different rooms within the Anderson on the first, second, and third floors.
To reserve your spot for a performance, visit: https://forms.gle/ESmGcKaKamdtrmfU7
Special live stream performances will take place Wednesday, Aug. 26, 6:00–6:45 and Wednesday, Sept. 2, 6:00–6:45 (RESCHEDULED*).
*The Sept. 2 live stream has been rescheduled. At the request of the performers, and in support of the ongoing, experimental nature of the work, we will instead present a prerecorded broadcast of the work on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 7pm. The link to the broadcast: https://youtu.be/-27vGvLsiCM
FROM THE ARTIST: ABOUT FACETS OF ESOTERICS
While making this dance installation and experiential performance about the elaborate subjects surrounding privilege and marginalization, my focus is not about individual psychology, nor is it about political studies, but about social locations and the impacts of the “privileged” in relationship to the marginalized. When do we make that shift from the margins to the arenas of privilege? Are we able to identify our social places?
There are three parts to this performance, and they happen in three separate rooms. I use the rooms to compartmentalize the ideas in other to deal with them as separate entities. However, the building (space) where the whole performance takes place signifies “the frame” in which we live as humans.
The work is a dance performance in a fabricated space installation. The dance itself is derived from Nigerian social, ritual, and occupational dances. I have chosen to use the Nigerian traditional storytelling framework in telling the stories within this work. So expect to be confused as a westerner watching the work, because it is told entirely in a different language both spoken and danced.
The key to viewing this work is to observe. I have created a space that requires nothing of the audience, simply walk in and out of the space, observing.
FROM THE ARTIST: INSPIRATION FOR FACETS OF ESOTERICS
This work was inspired by the huge disparity between dancers who practice non-mainstream styles like African dance and other dances from “subcultures”. I seek to trace and reclaim the values of my traditional dance history which is embedded in my practice as an African dancer within the framework of the US educational system. While not speaking directly to the issues, I have chosen to use object-metaphors and site-installation in telling what “privilege” looks like to a marginalized group through dance abstraction. The objects or props within this work is directly uprooted from a couple of Nigerian cultural dances where they might have different symbolic meanings. For example, the Yoruba Ondo Omi Obitun dance of fertility uses china plates (porcelain) in the climax of the dance performance, but I have converted this into an object-metaphor of abstraction to speak directly to the notion of white fragility.
Sinclair Ogaga Emoghene is an Assistant Professor of Dance + Choreography at VCU. As a dancer, choreographer, educator, and dance researcher he investigates and creates works that challenge notions of race, dance style and human identity. His work explores concepts of traditional and contemporary paradigms of West African dance, Contemporary dance, cross-cultural spaces and immigrant artists that traverse them, the way language and social structures shape people’s intrinsic values, and racial politics and power dynamics particularly the encounters black bodies have as they move through white spaces.
Prior to joining VCU he collaborated with the state arts council of Edo State Nigeria as the Director and Choreographer for the 2012 National Arts Festival, NAFEST. He guest lectured at the Loyola Jesuit College Abuja Nigeria, University of Benin Nigeria, and State cum regional colleges and secondary schools in Southern Nigeria. In 2009 he founded WXZY Arts Factory in Nigeria (now Sinclair Dance), and in 2011 choreographed for the acclaimed Nigerian film, I’ll Take My Chances, the first Nollywood feature length film about dance.
Born in Jos Plateau State, Nigeria, he moved to the USA in 2013 for his MFA and subsequently started his company Sinclair Dance. He holds a BA in Theater Arts and Mass Communication from the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria, and an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Maryland, College Park.