Hoka Days will feature ‘Gift of Dance’

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, August 16, 2023

From YAC

The Arts Council’s annual Hoka Days celebration fills a month with arts and cultural experiences tapping into the talents of artists in Lafayette County. All performances are offered free, inviting the community to explore the range of artists and talents in our community.

This week’s theme is a gift of dance featuring a free performance featuring different dancers, styles and techniques for the entire family.

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Living the Dance, will be presented, Friday, Aug. 18, at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center with performances at 4 and 7:30 p.m. The performance features two acts created by two local choreographers: Choreographer/Director Kido Jimmyle Listenbee and Choreographer/Teacher Rachel Coleman.

Listenbee and her company of seasoned performers present the universal life-journey of Homer’s Odyssey through ballet and clown-based styles ranging from exquisite beauty to grotesque comedy. Be prepared to laugh and possibly cry!

Coleman and her local students present the ancient North African/Egyptian dance style of Raks Sharqi as an eloquent form of fine art. Known in the West since the Chicago World Fair of 1893 as “Bellydance,” this style reveals endless mysteries of the spiral, while presenting new ones. Be prepared to be mesmerized and delighted!

The two works are inspired by the choreographer’s experiences. Listenbee drew inspiration from working with the dancers and from a recent nine-month stay in San Francisco to study with Hiroko Tamano, the Japanese Butoh Master who used exaggerated body- and face-contortions expressing deep feelings of joy and grief, often simultaneously.

Bill Irwin’s fine-tuned acting and clown skills in a live performance showed that truth appears most beautifully in the illusory line between comedy and tragedy. Coleman drew from the literary inspiration of Descent of Inanna/Ishtar.

In creating the Gift of Dance, Listenbee and Coleman wanted to create an experience that allowed the audience to see past the dance and enjoy the story beneath: taking pleasure in the art, its performance, and taking a small journey with the dancers. The gift of dance is open to all ages with special cushion seats down front for children.

Through the free performance the dancers want the audience to experience and express feelings; laughing, crying, fun, inspiration, pain, pleasure and amazement. “I hope that audience members will report that is was all that,” Listenbee said.

The Gift of Dance is part of Hoka Days, a month-long celebration of the arts organized by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. The celebration funds free performances by local artists to encourage community members to explore new experiences.

The Arts Council partners with arts and cultural organizations to present over 320 days of programs annually.

Reserve seats for Gift of Dance at www.oxfordarts.com.