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“How can we expand dance as a form to address the issues that are going on all around us? How can we be beneficial beyond ourselves?”

It has been quite the week for JUNTOS Collective. The team has taken the time to ensure everyone’s safety, including those currently traveling in Guatemala and Nicaragua, and initiate a support campaign for the refugees of the Fuego volcano eruption.

In the midst of breaking events in both countries, we are gearing up to travel with our next emerging choreographer, Dante Brown, on our second summer JUNTOSAbroad trip to Guatemala. As you read the interview below, you may see how fitting his current artistic questions, ideas, and explorations fit into these happenings. We are thrilled that he will be joining us as a choreographer and a mentor to the students during this time.

Photo by Mike Esperanza

Dante was introduced to dance during his sophomore year at Wesley University. Originally majoring in Chemistry (pre-med) and Music, he was attracted to the art form of dance and quickly switched his major. Continuing on this path, he received his MFA at Ohio State University before moving to New York and founding the increasingly recognized dance collaborative Dante Brown I Warehouse Dance.

Working with outreach organizations like JUNTOS is not new to Dante, as a dancer or choreographer. He has used dance many times to ignite conversation, dialogue, and discourse in a number of different environments, from bringing project housing communities together through dance, to organizing a workshop that raised over $1500 for the Black Lives Matter movement.

In his interview, Dante mentioned that he tends to gravitate towards working with organizations that use dance to operate in more ways than simply visual stimulation — one of the reasons why he was interested in working with JUNTOS. He is interested in exploring the validity of dance, the ways in which others perceive it, and the ways in which we as artists can use it to explore, communicate, and even resist.

He will be working through some of these questions as he choreographs a new work on the students traveling to Guatemala with JUNTOS on June 14th, and looking at how uprising builds a new body, how we use protest, and how our bodies respond to it. Inspired by current events around the world, Dante expressed a specific interest in the “moments in life and history when the act of revolution was a beneficiary act.”

Photo by Jim Coleman

Dante is currently working at Amherst College (Middlebury) in the Theater & Dance Department. He has recently launched a choreographic initiative amongst the Five College Consortium: 6 emerging choreographers and a selected resident choreographer will be invited to use residency space and teach master classes to the students. As someone working within the college, he explained that he now has a level of access that he believes can help build meaningful programs such as this one, one where artists are given the resources to create and share with the surrounding community.

For more information on Dante, be sure to check out his website warehousedance.org, notably his ongoing social engagement project, OUR LIPS, inspired by Malcolm Ingram’s 2006 documentary Small Town Gay Bar. He will also be performing a new solo “Lucille” during The Dance Complex’s “Dancing Queerly,” that investigates his memories of being at home in the south, and the body language that was used to communicate certain ideas– of race, sexuality, spirituality–during this time.