Haitian dance ensemble – AYIKODANS – helps nation rebuild after earthquake

By Saba Long

It’s been four years since a fateful earthquake uprooted and changed the lives of the Haitian people.

As the reconstruction continues, investment is growing with manufacturing and tourism on the rise. The Francophile country has declared it is open for business.

“I get a lot of questions about what is happening these days in Haiti,” says Gandy Thomas, Consul General of Haiti in Atlanta. “I’m happy to report that we are making progress and things are getting better. The country is rebuilding, several sectors are experiencing rapid growth, and my office is planning more trips to Haiti on a regular basis to introduce American business leaders to companies and industry officials there.”

In addition to its business opportunities and growth, Haiti is known for its rich arts culture.

Thomas will soon present to Atlanta audiences – AYIKODANS, a Haitian dance ensemble under the direction of internationally-renowned choreographer Jeanguy Saintus, at the 4th Annual Flavors and Colors of Haiti.

Rasanble, “gathering” in Haitian Creole, their latest production will be performed Dec. 11 at the Rialto Center for the Arts.

According to their press release, AYIKODANS is part of a movement towards a new contemporary Haitian aesthetic. While it is rooted in tradition, it reflects modern Caribbean culture. The visionary choreography of Saintus imbues their dances with a level of creativity, intensity and strength that will surprise people who associate Haiti with disaster and poverty.

“For me, dance is a way of life,” says Jeanguy Saintus, the Haitian-born choreographer, educator and founder of AYIKODANS Dance Company. “I am inspired every day by the joys and struggles – not only of Haitian people, but of people around the world. Through dance I am able to express great passion and emotion and connect with audiences on a deep level. I am thrilled to premiere two new dances, Rasanble and Ranmase, at the 4th Annual Flavors and Colors of Haiti.”

Proceeds from this event will benefit the Haitian & Haitian-American Student Internship Program at the Coca-Cola Company in Haiti. The intern program provides hands-on learning opportunities for students interested in giving back to their communities and building a brighter future for Haiti.

Other Atlanta-based sponsors include Delta Air Lines and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Tickets to AYIKONDANS can be purchased at the Rialto or online by clicking on this link.

Saba Long is a communications and political professional who lives in downtown Atlanta. She serves as the senior council aide and communications liaison for Post 2 At-Large Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson. Most recently, Saba was the press secretary for MAVEN and Untie Atlanta -- the Metro Chamber’s education and advocacy campaigns in supportive of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum. She has consulted with H.E.G. an analytics and evaluation firm where she lent strategic marketing and social media expertise to numerous political campaigns, including that of Fulton County Chairman John Eaves and the 2010 Clayton County transportation referendum. In 2009, Saba served as the deputy campaign manager for the campaign of City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Previously, Saba was a Junior Account Executive at iFusion Marketing, where she lent fractional marketing strategy to various ATDC technology startups operating out of the Georgia Tech incubator, ATDC. For the past two years, Saba has presented on online marketing and politics to the incoming fellows of the Atlanta chapter of the New Leaders Council.

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