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“Beau Monde” returns to Ypsilanti’s Riverside Arts Center this week

Celebration of movement, history to act as space for healing

"Beau Monde" was created by Gina Danene Thompson and will be performed at Ypsilanti's Riverside Arts Center.
"Beau Monde" was created by Gina Danene Thompson and will be performed at Ypsilanti's Riverside Arts Center. (John Teoh)

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Dance is a form of healing for director and choreographer Gina Danene Thompson.

Scheduled for its sixth iteration, “Beau Monde: An Anthology of Black Movement in America,” will showcase dances from different historical periods in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Arts Center.

Created by Thompson, the performance uses dance and choreography to showcase black movement and history while also creating a space for communal healing and inclusivity.

“My focus is that the community gets an opportunity to be in a healing environment rather than an animosity-driven environment,” said Thompson.

Throughout her career, Thompson has focused on dance as a medium of healing. She even gave a TEDxTalk in 2018 at the Ypsilanti District Library revolving around the healing that happens during movement.

Tickets to some of the performances have already sold out.
Tickets to some of the performances have already sold out. (Gina Danene Thompson)

“Movement and music - it brings us together. You’re not thinking about what brings us separate at a dance performance, or on a dance floor, or at a musical. Nobody is thinking about what separates them. They’re thinking about how much fun they’re having or how good they feel or how exhilarating it is, or how much energy you have when you walk out the door,” said Thompson, who is the artistic director and choreographer for her own Michigan-based dance company, PURe.

‘“For me, it’s the artists’ job to do - it’s to create a healing space in chaos.”

The formulaic pattern of “Beau Monde” allows Thompson to change each iteration of the performance and to incorporate different significant time periods.

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Performances this week will cycle through older African dance, the Harlem Renaissance and up to modern-day dances and movement.

This year Thompson has incorporated the civil rights movement and music from that period. As Ypsilanti High school choir sings a rendition of “We Shall Overcome,” Thompson explained, audience members will be asked to shake hands with the performers in what she called a “church-style” sharing of peace.

With around 50 performers, the event incorporates dancers from different styles of dance. HardCore Detroit and Bia Bichini Congo are among a line up of guest performers, including C-One Tang, Bobi Lott, Norberto Martinez, PURe Potential, Fatima Shinaba, Osa Izerein, and Yoshimi Shelton.

Although some shows are sold out, tickets are still available for performances on Friday and Saturday.

Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased online here or at-the-door before performances. Students can receive discounted tickets for $8.

The Riverside Arts Center is at 76 N. Huron Street, Ypsilanti.

"Beau Monde" was created by Gina Danene Thompson and will be performed at Ypsilanti's Riverside Arts Center.
"Beau Monde" was created by Gina Danene Thompson and will be performed at Ypsilanti's Riverside Arts Center. (John Teoh)