Dance duo Baye and Asa bring a ‘maximalist’ style to Carbondale’s Launchpad
A New York dance duo called “Baye and Asa” is at Carbondale Arts this week for a residency with the local nonprofit Dance Initiative.
The artists — Amadi “Baye” (uh-MAH-dee BYE-yay) Washington and Sam “Asa” Pratt — have used their time at The Launchpad to develop work, connect with visual artists and brainstorm ideas.
They also led workshops for kids and adults. Pratt said the focus is on expression more than technique. The duo often work with school-aged students, and first connected with each other in an elementary school dance class decades ago.
“I think more than imparting anything technically about dance or performance is really just about encouraging an energetic engagement from them,” Pratt said. “And giving children the space to be physically expressive in this way is sometimes a rare opportunity for children.”
Washington said arts education is a lot like learning about other subjects in school. All students learn science and math, even if they won’t become a scientist or a mathematician, and Washington believes there are transferable skills in the arts like dance, too.
“Collaboration and communication and socialization and being comfortable in your body and public speaking and proprioceptive awareness relate to everything that you have to do in your life at some point,” Washington said.
The duo wrap up their residency this weekend with a showcase of their work at the Launchpad on Saturday.
While some of their movement is inspired by African dance and hip hop, Washington said the duo’s “maximalist” style doesn’t fit neatly into a box.
“A lot of our approach is not only based in the energy that relates to the movement that we create, but also the ideas that we focus on, which are mostly political and exist in the dialogues that we have between each other,” he said.
Pratt said audiences can come in with an open mind.
“The lack of genre is both to, I think, combat an audience's expectation of what they think they might see based on a specific word or genre title, and it's also to give us the freedom to say that we are continuing to evolve,” Pratt said. “The more people we work with, our physicality changes, we get interested in different things, our physicality changes again.”
Tomorrow’s event includes a patio party, studio showing and talk-back with the artists. The party starts at 6:30 p.m. but you can also purchase tickets for just the show and talk-back, which take place at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available through danceinitiative.org.