DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dancing to the Drums

With a trio of drummers pounding out a powerful, pulsating beat, the Campaigne de Danse Jean-Rene Delsoin demonstrated the dance culture of their native Haiti on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.

The exceptionally lithe 5-member dance troupe performed 5 dance numbers, each one portraying some connection to Haitian life and history. The final number, which forced the crowd to its collective feet, was entitled Drum Passion. During that performance, as the off-stage drum trio provided the rhythm, the 4 males and 1 female dancer alternately held their own drums high above their hands, then danced across the stage, and then balanced themselves on the percussive shells, only to resume their expressive dance again.

The dance was based on this excerpt from Haitian writer and activist Jacques Stephen Alexis: "In Haiti, all drums speak at night. One so wishes they would disappear forever, that they would croak; the sad drum, the sickly drum, the insistent and mournful drum, the drums that provoke a trance and hysteria, the drums, that beg life for mercy."

The other 5 dances were:

  • Divinely Guided - Two persons channel a force beyond their comprehension
  • Rhythms and Variations - A celebration of connections in the African Diaspora that juxtaposes Haitian, Afro-Brazilian, and African musical and dance rhythms
  • Haiti, the Second Chapter - A response to the questions Haiti, why do you wallow in this morbid dance, reeking of world's end? Two hundred years later, why not turn the page to a new chapter?
  • Gason Solid - Inspired by the music of Haitian composer Erol Josue, the dance tells the story of a shipwrecked man who finds courage and strength after a traumatic sea crossing.
Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
There is a performance at the Millennium Stage 365 days a year. The free performances begin at 6 p.m. All of the shows are filmed and placed on the Kennedy Center website for public viewing. You can see the Campaigne de Danse Jean-Rene Delsoin performance in its entirety by clicking here.

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