Performing Arts: CityDance’s Paul Gordon Emerson

by Editorial
U.S. Helsinki Commission photo/Daniel Redfield

U.S. Helsinki Commission photo/Daniel Redfield

“I’m a huge believer that art and politics are not strange bedfellows,” said Emerson. “They’re actually very comfortable bed fellows. There are things we can say through art that are difficult to say in politics and things you can say in politics that can inform and change and help redefine art.”

Founded in 1996, CityDance began as a small group of part-time dancers with full-time jobs in the many fields that bring people to Washington D.C. Today CityDance boasts a full-time, salaried touring company that has traveled under the auspices of the State Department as well as numerous dance outreach programs, a dance school and a film production department.

Last year, Emerson had the opportunity to tour Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, to hear first-hand the stories of Iraqi refugees. Out of that experience came Wishes of a Sailor, an original work that CityDance was asked to present at the U.S. Capitol as part of a forum to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle of approximately two million Iraqi refugees.

This year, CityDance has been invited to open the dance festival in Ramala in the West Bank. The first American company to be invited to the festival, CityDance is partnering with the Palestinian Ministry of Culture to create a bridge between the two countries through dance.

“The goal that we’ve set and they’ve set, is that we’ll go into a concert environment on stage with their dancers and our dancers dancing together. And that’s a pretty powerful metaphor to me about how person-to-person you transcend certain kinds of challenges.”

For more information on the exciting programs CityDance offers, visit their website.

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