Ensemble Performance Combines Dance, African Drumming, Original Music, Spoken Word, and Film

February 19, 2014

Where does the soul begin? That’s the question director, composer, and musician Akili Jamal Haynes and his ensemble seek to answer through The Art & Soul of Chibuzo, a multimedia performance that takes place tonight, February 19, at 7 p.m. in Wellesley College’s Jewett Auditorium.

The Art & Soul of Chibuzo explores the personal, spiritual, and cultural nature of a creative process through a unique blend of dance, drumming, music, spoken word, and theater from an African perspective. Chibuzo is an Igbo word that means "God leads." The performance, presented by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Wellesley, is free and open to the public.

The event, scheduled to honor Black History Month and Day of Remembrance, promises to resonate artfully and soulfully with everyone who attends and participates in this unique collective celebration. Elena Creef, associate professor of women’s and gender studies and one of the event organizers, said audiences can expect to be “visually mesmerized by a rich and colorful ensemble of musicians, dancers, puppets, and film images, and moved by the live music of drums, piano, trumpet, double bass, and singers.”

Haynes, a virtuoso on trombone, trumpet, drums, bass, saxophone, and piano, found himself surrounded early in his career by internationally recognized artists like Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Lester Bowie, and Illinois Jacquet and found inspiration in them. At Wellesley, Haynes will be joined by special guests including Grammy Award–winning vocalist Maya Azucena; musical legends Cecil McBee, Bill Pierce, and Yoron Israel; and Wellesley’s Yanvalou Dance and Drum Ensemble, with Yanvalou Director Kera Washington.

The audience will be encouraged to participate and some of Haynes’ original lyrics will be made available so that audience members may sing along if they feel inspired to do so.  

Haynes will be joined by Adrienne Hawkins of Impulse Dance and Bass-Line Motion; De Ama Battle of The Art of Black Dance & Music, Inc.; the Jo-Me Dance Company, directed by Joe Gonzalez and May-Lisa Chandler; NIA Dance Troupe of Origination, choreographed by Shaumba Yandje Dibinga; In Divine Company directed by Aparna (Pampi) Das; Zucan; and visual artist Dey Hernandez. 

The Art & Soul of Chibuzo is presented by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Wellesley as part of its Art & Soul program, developed to foster community exploration of spirituality and the arts at Wellesley. The event is cosponsored by the College’s Women’s & Gender Studies, Africana Studies, American Studies, and Music departments, along with the Treves Fund, and the Partnerships for Diversity & Inclusion at Wellesley College.

The performance is free and open to the public.