Ayikodans' New Dance Studio Opens in Haiti
Three years after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, it's easy to look to the island nation and wonder, what has been done, what has improved, is there rebirth?
Inside Ayikodans' new studio.
It can be a dark gaze -- so much to be done. But for rays of light, look no further than Haiti's premiere dance troupe Ayikodans, founded in 1987 by internationally renowned choreographer Jeanguy Saintus, which found a helping hand in Miami through an effort led by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
"Ayikodans represents a real life story of physical and spiritual renewal," says John Richard, president and CEO of the Arsht Center. "When the earthquake shocked our friends in Haiti and we learned that Ayikodans was in peril, we asked ourselves, 'How can we help? How can we make a difference?'"
They could make a difference by raising funds to build a new studio for the troupe, back in the Caribbean nation, as both a beacon of hope and a necessity to keep the company afloat. It opened earlier this month.
Kathryn Garcia, former programming director for the Arsht Center, remembers how the artistry and spirit of Ayikodans impacted her. "When I first saw the company perform in Haiti, I knew they had to come to Miami. Not only were the dancers and musicians excellent, but Jeanguy's work was so deeply rooted in the Haitian experience," says Garcia, now the executive director of MDC Live Arts. "His work allows audiences to connect with the struggle and strength of the Haitian people in a deeply personal way."
We caught up with Saintus on his recent visit to Miami to attend the Peter London Global Dance performance at the Arsht. "I can't say or I don't know how much the earthquake affected my artistic process," he contemplates, "since my artistic life and life in general in Haiti has always been a constant struggle. However the earthquake devastated lots of dreams in Haiti and forced me to see the world differently, to see people differently, even the Haitians themselves. So many things have changed since then."
Arsht president John Richard and Ayikodans director Jeanguy Santus.