By Melani Segovia, Jeanette Quitizaca, Dylan Spencer
Evidence a Dance Company was founded by dancer Ronald K. Brown in 1985, and based in Brooklyn, New York.Their mission statement says, “ The mission of Evidence is to promote understanding of the human experience in the African Diaspora through dance and storytelling and to provide sensory connections to history and tradition through music, movement, and spoken word, leading deeper into issues of spirituality, community responsibility, and liberation”. Ronald K. Brown is the Artistic Director, and Choreographer.
Squad members Dylan, Jeanette, and Melani had the opportunity to watch one of Evidence’s performances in the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville. The show was about two hours long and it had three different acts showing African style dances. Even though it was mostly African style dance, you could still see how they had also incorporated a little bit of different styles of dancing from different countries. We saw some punta which is a dance that originated in Honduras and some Bachata which is from the Dominican Republic. It was really cool how they added different types of dances, but still made it look like an African Dance.
We got the chance to interview Mr. Brown backstage. Here are some of the questions and his answers:
Q: Where were you born?
RKB: Brooklyn New York
Q: Where did you grow up?
RKB: I grew up in a neighborhood, so my maternal grandparents were on one side of the street and my paternal grandparents were on the other side of the street, then we moved around the corner. My grandparents and Aunts always followed each other. Then we moved to a neighborhood called Prospect Heights.
Q: What made you start your dance company?
RKB: I wanted to create a company that would reflect the human condition and see real people on stage and my big brother told me, if you wanna see that you have to do it.
Q: Who were your influences?
RKB: Mr. Alvin Ailey who I saw his company when I was in the second grade on a school trip and it was amazing to me that you could make a work about God and people and so I went home and made a dance, but I thought I wanted to be a ballet dancer cuz my mom had these encyclopedias around the house and so I knew about this guy Arthur Mitchell who started the Harlem Dance Theater.
Q:What would you tell young people who want to start a career in dance?
RKB: I would say study as much as you can, all different styles and see as much as you can because sometimes people say I want to dance but they haven’t really seen what’s out there. Hundreds and hundreds of dance companies have different styles of dancing.
Q:What challenges did you have to face to go to what you are today?
RKB: I founded the company in 1985 and I saw a commercial in 1987 and so I was using my personal money to pay for everything and in 1996 I incorporated the organization as a non profit because i needed to raise money but I didn’t want to beg people for money but I had to get over that because if you wanna have a dance company and pay people you need to raise money so I think that was a challenge and still a challenge.
Q: What is your perspective on what is going on politically in the country ( the United States)?
RKB: There are only two emotions: fear and love. We want to make sure love is first. So I think what’s going on in the world I think people are capitalizing on the fact that people are afraid and they play into that and they want us to be afraid of each other and afraid of living and being in places and so I think part of the healing is to push love and be love and not be afraid and when people are showing you hate you have to let it roll off your back the hate is there because they’re afraid.
To learn more about Ronald K. Brown and the dance members of Evidence, visit https://www.evidencedance.com/