The world-at-large too often forgets that Haiti is more than a sob story -- much more. That its people can be noble rather than needful, inspiring instead of resigned. Take Jeanguy Saintus, Haiti's unofficial "Ambassador of Dance" and head of the ensemble called Ayikodans. Last year Saintus led his dancers into the Arsht for one of the most resounding debuts in that hallowed hall's history. Now they return for a series of sold-out performances which should prove that debut was no fluke. The work is entitled "Cry Haiti Mother" and it was specifically-commissioned by the Arsht itself. Niteside got Saintus to speak a bit about it.
Seems like the Arsht is working wonders for you and Ayikodans, no? Oh yes! They've been absolutely wonderful in every respect. We're hoping to make this our second home -- and we're willing to dance for it!
You do much more than dance for a living though, don't you? Indeed I do. I don't have a staff, so in addition to choreographing the works and assembling the dancers, some of whom come from my school, Dancing Barefoot, I've also got to take care of the company's administration. Over the past year I've also had the privilege of teaching at the University of Florida in Gainesville and at the Cleo Parker Dance Company in Denver.
What's the spark behind "Cry Haiti Mother"? It's basically telling the story of how we survived the earthquake. Many Haitians don't have fathers, so when we cry out it's to Manman [the mother]. But what do we do when our mother has been totally destroyed?
Rumor has it that you may next incorporate Alan Lomax's early 20th century Haitian field recordings in your next work, is that so? I'd very much like to. Earlier this week I met [Green Family Foundation president] Kimberly Green and she was explaining how The Haiti Box came to be. The recordings capture our roots, which of course heavily influences my work too.
Ayikodans performs May 25 thorugh May 27 at The Arsht's Carnival Studio Theater. For more information log on here.