In 2006 A.I.M, a Black-led contemporary dance company, was founded by Kyle Abraham. The mission of A.I.M is to create “a body of dance-based work that is galvanized by Black culture and history”. On October 12th A.I.M had a Virtual Homecoming Night to share more information about that body of work. They also gave insight into how they create transformative experiences through dance.
The first work shown on Homecoming Night was An Untitled Love(2021) a dance-based work that represents all kinds of Black love. Due to the political climate and the injustice Black people face An Untitled Love aims to talk about the opposite. The love between Black people and our community. The work is inspired by Abraham’s parents, aunts and uncles who may not have been blood-related but raised him. The work shows that in the little and big details. The D’Angelo playing in the background and the plastic on the couch makes the scene so comfortable like home. The passion, push and pull, and the reciprocity between the two dancers is able to be felt through the screen.
A.I.M also honored a few creatives who embody the values of and inspire the company. The honorees were Tommy and Codie Elaine Oliver, creators of the documentary series Black Love. Codie and Tommy talked about making Black Love to change the narrative behind Black love and how it’s received. Codie started thinking about the project when she was a single Black woman. She was trying to deal with the narrative that Black women are not as likely to get married.
This narrative makes it seem like Black couples get divorced more often this was worrisome to Codie until she saw the Obama’s together and realized that Black love is there we just have to look for it and show it off. It was nice to see Codie and Tommy being honored by A.I.M during An Untitled Love showing how much we as Black people need to see more Black love of all forms, partnership, culture, and community, so we can have something to believe in.
The second piece of work shown on Homecoming Night was Absent Matter (2015) is a dance-based work that addresses the pandemic of police brutality against Black people. The dancers express pain through the dance showing physical exhaustion, their hands up, and red splattered on their clothes. Although the topic and the work itself is heavy it is nice to see how Black art helps us heal and express ourselves. For this work, the honoree is Emmy award-winning composer Kristopher Bowers.
Bowers has composed for many different diverse film and television project such as The Green Book, When They See Us, Dear White People, etc and directed an Oscar-nominated documentary A Concerto is a Conversation following his own journey as a composer. To Bowers, it is very important to not replicate the music of musicians but to make music that sounds like them by researching music and art that inspired them. Bowers and Abraham both worked together on Absent Matter in order to turn a conversation about the struggles facing Black people into art by combining music and dance.
For more from Sydney, check out her interview with The Regular director Tara Olajidé.