Essence pays homage to dance

Essence Dance Theatre gave an exhilarating and classy show Saturday. The theme of the show was Homage.

LaToya Davis-Craig, a doctoral student at Florida State University and the artistic director of the show, said “The theme of the show was Homage, which is showing the existence of Essence, but also bringing it back to the roots of hip-hop, classical, street and African music and dance. We are paying homage to everything from the past.”

Essence was paying homage to the founding members and the different works of art.

Essence Dance Theatre was established April 18, 2001. There were 13 founding members with a vision to bring back the essence of dancing. Essence has obtained many accolades since their establishment, like performing on BET’s “Spring Bling” in 2003, and they have traveled to the Black College Exchange, which they will be traveling to again next week. Past dancers have gone on to perform with the Atlanta Falcons and choreograph music videos with musical artists.

Guest choreographers, such as Millicent M. Johnnie, a graduate student at FSU, contributed their skills to the show.

“The growth and maturity, and the dancers enjoying themselves made the show a success,” said Johnnie, who has toured with the Urban Bush Women. The director raised money to bring in guest choreographers which is important because it affirms the girls.”

The show was performed in two parts. The use of colors seemed to be the secondary theme. The colors brought intensity to the mood of the different dance pieces. There were a couple of pieces that were more intense than others, like I Too Dream in Color, Rhyme, an untitled piece and Fatherless Child.

I Too Dream in Color, the spoken word “Brother to the Night” performed by Larenz Tate in the movie “Love Jones,” was used to dictate the solo dancer. The dancer wore blue and the background was blue, which gave the piece more depth and feeling.

Another intense piece was an untitled piece. Nina Simone’s soul-stirring “I Put a Spell on You” guided the two dancers through an emotional struggle of love. The background was black and a single spotlight was used to focus on the two dancers.

Another, intense piece was “Fatherless Child,” which hit home for many in the audience. The choice of song was “Daughter to Father” by Lindsay Lohan, which addresses her relationship with her father. The dancers were dressed in neutral colors. Their movements were very hectic reflecting the fast paced theme.

There were some street and hip-hop pieces also. These pieces connected the younger audience to the show. The use of colors during these pieces set the atmosphere for the dancing. The dancers were in different colors versus the monotones in the other pieces.

Essence’s use of various types of music made the show more accessible to different types of audiences. It incorporated blues, hip-hop, reggae, rock and spoken word, which correlates with the different works of art.

Endia Harris, 19, a freshman physical therapy student from Tampa, said, “I liked the diversity of the show because I think it’s important to incorporate various types of art in order to reach a wide-range audience.

Jasmine Burks, a 21-year-old public relations student from Dallas said, “The show was good. I like the style of dance.”

The show was a success for Essence Dance Theatre. They incorporated style, sass, diversity and class all in one show, which made it a success.

Contact Savina Billups at