An artist since childhood, Ron Brown was studying journalism when the dance bug bit him hard. For close to 30 years since then, he’s run a company based on the dance vocabulary of the African diaspora, commemorating and celebrating the love that binds people together. With a powerful style grounded in Senegalese and urban vernacular movement, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence tours internationally, revealing aspects of the dance experience that other ensembles neglect.
Two bills alternate this week at the Joyce. Program A, Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening, features remarkable guest dancer Matthew Rushing performing an excerpt of “Ife/My Heart,” made in 2005 for the Ailey company where Rushing is now rehearsal director. Dressed all in white, he channels a Latino street-corner guy celebrating his body to a spoken-word score by Ursula Rucker.
Also on that program is 1998’s “Incidents,” a quiet, dramatic piece in which a group of women comfort and heal a young girl, dancing as they work to spirituals sung by Aretha Franklin, Wunmi and the Staple Singers. No erotic bumping and grinding for this crowd; Brown’s urban people find solace in God, producing uplift rather than cheesy entertainment. A new work, “Torch,” celebrates the life of his recently deceased friend Beth Young.
Brown’s troupe operates on the border between this world and the next, aspiring to heaven while living fully on Earth. Program B, running Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as at Saturday’s matinee, features the 2001 “Walking Out the Dark” and “Upside Down,” made in 1998 with Rokiya Kone of the Ivory Coast troupe Jeune Ballet d’Afrique Noire, to music by Fela Kuti and Malian vocalist Oumou Sangare.