Vini Pi Pre/Come Closer performance

Vini Pi Pre/Come Closer: A Choreographic Commission

Performance at the Lied Center of Kansas, November 16, 2018. Preview performance at Spencer Museum of Art, October 18, 2018.

Enlisting the University Dance Company for the symposium

Vini Pi Pre/Come Closer was a choreographic commission for “The Ties that Bind: Haiti, the United States, and the Art of Ulrick Jean-Pierre in Comparative Perspective,” by the Spencer Museum of Art and the “Unexpected Caribbean” Symposium at the University of Kansas. The choreography developed in response to the images and themes of the exhibit. The vocabulary considered postures, shapes, lines, and concepts from the paintings and their subjects, as well as African diaspora dance traditions, through a contemporary frame of reference.  

Choreographer Michelle Heffner Hayes worked in dialogue with Haitian-American composer and violinist, Daniel Bernard Roumain, who generously provided permission to use his song “The Loss” as the first section of the dance. Hayes also engaged with the Haitian singer and activist Emeline Michel, who provided the second song of the work “Nasyon Soley/Sun Nation,” including audio of lullabies she sang to her son.

Members of the University Dance Company performed as part of the Unexpected Caribbean Symposium at the Spencer Museum of Art on October 18, 2018. Then, the piece was performed at the University Dance Company Fall Concert, Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, November 15-16, 2018. Most of the students in the work initially had little exposure to the history and cultures of Haiti, nor the conflicted relationship between the United States and Haiti. They were required to read several articles, work with a translation of the lyrics, watch videos of Haitian traditional and contemporary dance, and view the exhibition as part of their training. In addition to these contextualization efforts, dancers rehearsed for four hours a week over a period of three months.

The performance can be viewed on Vimeo by entering the password “Vini”