When he founded Evidence in 1985 at the precocious age of nineteen, Brown wasn't comfortable cribbing from African dance, believing his efforts would be an illegitimate expression of that rich heritage. But since 1994, after choreographing and teaching in West Africa and conducting research in the African diaspora, he has experienced firsthand the contemporary evolution of traditional African dance, and the issue of authenticity resolved itself. Brown's dances explore community dynamics and human exchange, but they're also about giving yourself over to the divine, leaving the world behind. His work always reflects the heart and spirit behind the movement. This won't be news to those fortunate patrons who witnessed High Life, Brown's series of evocative migration stories, during the company's last visit, in 2001.
On January 17, Come Ye (2003), an homage to Nina Simone and a call for peaceful revolution, presents music by Simone and Fela Kuti, the Afro-pop musician and Nigerian political activist who is a Brown favorite. I had the chance to see Come Ye as a promising work-in-progress in 2003 at the American Dance Festival a longtime nurturer of Brown's choreography. With its sweeping Senegalese and Cuban vocabularies, it has since graduated to become one of Brown's most affecting and addictive pieces.