Social Change Through the Performing Arts – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Social Change Through the Performing Arts

Social_Change_Dance_1In conjunction with HWS’ celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month, artists and activists from Afreesoul Dynamic  hosted workshops, a lecture and a performance, titled “Building the Beloved Community: Social Change through the Performing Arts.” The evening of events was held in the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Feb. 4 – with workshops beginning at 4:30 p.m. followed by a reception, then lecture and performance in the Deming Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

The event kicked off with participants selecting one of the four following workshops during an open registration period at 4:30 p.m. in the L. Thomas Melly ’52 Lobby:

“Gathering the Pieces: Modes and Motifs in Story,” taught by Almeta Whitis, investigated popular myths in today’s culture and create stories emphasizing community healing. Whitis is a storyteller, writer and teaching artist whose work focuses on cultural connections.

“A Mi Grant: Moving Forward,” taught by Jihan Cooke, was a movement workshop, where participants considered what it means to be an American as they analyze several videos and texts. Cooke attended Edna Manley College, State University of New York and the Alvin Ailey School.

Social_Change_Dance_2“Debunking Stereotypes about Muslims and Islam,” taught by Nzinga Muhammad, unpacked what a stereotype is and why it has the power to be destructive. Muhammad is a self-taught artist from Rochester, N.Y.

“From Page to Stage,” taught by Reenah Golden, focused on defining the words, “identity,” “community,” “activist” and “community leader.” Golden is a writer and activist from Rochester, who has won numerous awards for her publications and work connecting youth to quality arts and cultural programming.

After the workshops, a reception was held for the participants, artists and workshop facilitators to engage in dialogue around the themes of social justice and coalition building. The lecture and performance then took place at 7:30 p.m. in the Deming Theatre featuring the workshop presenters, as well as dancer Niema Neteri Atkins and emcee Grant “Skribedagod” Atkins.

Social_Change_Dance_6Afreesoul Dynamic is an intersectional group that uses spoken word, MCing, storytelling, movement, dance, video, film, music and soundscapes to bring awareness to social justice issues.

The workshop was organized by Assistant Professor of Dance Kelly Johnson at