Around this month last year, I spoke with Raianna Brown, the Georgia tech dancer who went viral for taking a knee during the National Anthem at her school's football game. Since then, she has been focusing on creating art with a social justice message.
As the founder, CEO and Artistic Director of her dance theater company Komansé, her company's directors are all women and students.
"This is the second year many of us have worked together as some of us worked together on my last project "RAIIN Dance Theater Presents: in Human," she said. This was the first major production. You can find the link of the video here.
Her presentation created quite the reactio— a sold-out audience at the Ferst Center for the Arts, which gave her two nights for Komansé Dance Theater's premiere.
"Although the company's directors are students, our dancers are all professional dancers many of whom who have trained in dance at Atlanta Ballet, Kennesaw State, Lines Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, etc," she said. "Our mission is to use art to challenge, create, and cultivate. The company utilizes the medium of Black cultural expression to unpack current issues surrounding social activism. We seek to create work that speaks to people’s experiences and the universal human connection. KOMANSÉ Dance Theater is uncompromising storytelling for the culture."
She talked about her upcoming show called Skid, explaining that Skid is a celebration of the vulnerability and strength of humanity.
She elaborated on how Komansé Dance Theater takes a provocative look at homelessness and gentrification in the metro Atlanta area and beyond.
"Celebrating the humanity that is within all of us, the dancers of KDT bring to light the ways economic disparity can affect people’s mental health, cognitive capacity, and spiritual essence. Using an innovative set design and featuring 3D printed costuming, by the world renowned, youngest 3D printed fashion designer, Shami Oshun, this production brings together dance and technological innovation to embody the human connection between art and social justice. Skid is set to a score of classical and contemporary sounds including trap music, jazz, and hip hop. The compelling high-energy movement of the KDT dancers captures the attention of a multi-generational audience."
She stated how more than half a million people currently meet the definition of homeless in our country, and of those — 7,000 live in Atlanta. "This story is not uncommon but it is complex."
Brown not only want to shed light on social activism but she wants to be a part of helping the community. For this project, she will be partnering with a local homeless shelter to not only volunteer at the shelter, but to donate a portion of the show’s proceeds to the shelter as well.
"We will also be working with members of Atlanta’s homeless population and including their stories into the narrative of the show (with permission) to bring to light the complexity of this important social issue."
When asked what she hopes to gain from her projects and activism, Brown remains hopeful.
"We are really hoping to gain more exposure for this important project. Especially in the time we live in it is important for people to see that young people, especially young people of color, are not just sitting aside and letting things happen, but we are working to be the change we seek in the world."
To learn more about Komasé dance visit www.komasedance.org
If you want to support this project you can make a tax-deductible donation here.
Lead Image: @freeSPIRIT_5678 via komansedance.org