The TransAtlantic Project

51 3Arts supporters
$5,025 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on April 03, 2018
    • 100% contributed

In 2007, I had the opportunity to travel to Senegal, West Africa to participate in a dance training at L’Ecole De Sables. It was there that I met an amazing choreographer/dancer named Jonas Byaruhanga, the founder and artistic director of Keiga Dance. While working together we both quickly discovered that our dance communities needed to embark on a collaboration. Fast forward to 2010, Jonas invited me to perform my solo, New World Afrikan in his Dance Transmission Festival in Kampala. We also began exploring ways that we could bring our dance companies together to create a work that would express our community’s rich history and cultural heritage. After many months, visa denials, and travel constraints, that initiative is finally happening and we have successfully completed two international exchanges. Now we are in the final phase which is to complete the last of two creative residencies this May and June. The culmination of these residencies will be a world premiere of a brand new collaborative work that will be performed on November 8-10, 2018 in Chicago. Though we have benefited from generous support for much of this work, we need to appeal to our community to help us see this final and exciting step come together.

About This Project

“Movement, to be experienced, has to be found in the body, not put on like a dress or a coat. There is that in us which has moved from the very beginning. It is that which can liberate us…” (Mary Whitehouse)

The TransAtlantic Project unites two internationally recognized dance companies: Red Clay Dance and Keiga Dance in a cultural exchange that will result in a new choreographic work created by myself and Jonas Byaruhanga. This work explores the reconnection to ancestral histories and embodied cellular memory of African and African Diasporan movement esthetics. The work is about LIBERATION! The process will liberate both myself and Jonas as the creators, as well our company members, to dig deep into personal memory and excavate our memories of movement: untrained and untainted, raw and authentic.

Using the quote from Mary Whitehouse as a spring board, the project follows this line of thought: the body is committed and truthful to original movement and can be the motivation to transform the first steps for choreography. Choreographic intent can be led by a certain devotion towards inner body movement, which is often influenced by cultural traditions. But even when the body works to the depth, it is still challenged in recognizing other esthetic influences. This inner body is packed with culturally-specific vocabulary and thematic content. In it is caged a local individual with geographic, traditional, and cultural concerns. This project explores the LIBERATION of this embodied knowledge as well as an exciting juxtaposition and blending of African Contemporary and Afro-Contemporary dance performed by the male and female body, casting aside gender roles and assumptions.

What’s Next: Your involvement is crucial to completing this project! We are currently fundraising to support the artist salaries, travel, and lodging/per diem for the two additional creative residencies coming up in Kampala and Chicago, as well as producing the premiere. 

This project is truly a dream come true for me and for our artistic collaborators. But it also provides an extraordinary opportunity to create and share new work with Chicago, to bring these motivating ideals of liberation and empowerment to our city. I invite you to be part of this journey with us and am so grateful for your support! 

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Personal thank you letter from Vershawn and Jonas. ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Personal thank you letter and a signed official "TransAtlantic Project" poster. ($40.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Personal thank you letter and an invitation to meet the artists at an exclusive “Season 10 Kick Off Party." ($80.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Personal thank you letter, an invitation to meet the artists at an exclusive “Season 10 Kick Off Party," and two tickets to the World Premiere. ($100.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Personal thank you letter, two tickets to the World Premiere and post-performance party “Tukwaniriza,” and a backstage photo with the company. ($300.00 is tax deductible.)

Vershawn Sanders-Ward

Southwest Airlines Awardee

Vershawn Sanders-Ward is a movement artivist, and Founder and Artistic Director of Red Clay Dance Company based in Chicago, IL. A native of Chicago, Sanders-Ward holds a MFA in Dance from New York University and a BFA in Dance from Columbia …

View Vershawn Sanders-Ward's profile
  • Update 1: Our village is the BEST!!
    Posted on February 20, 2018


    Happy Tuesday everyone! This has been an exciting two weeks for our TransAtlantic Project campaign!  We want to thank everyone for your support so far through donations and/or sharing the campaign with your networks! We have reached out match goal!!! This is a true testament to what community is and can accomplish together.   I was reflecting back on the first day Jonas and I met at L'Ecole de Sables in 2007 and how far we have come both professionally and personally since that day.  Please know that when you support this project, you are supporting REAL PEOPLE and REAL DREAMS! Jonas and I continue to check in weekly with each other to iron out more of the details of the work. We are working ideas around the design of the set as well as costumes, music, and props…like maybe traditional Ugandan masks!! As Red Clay Dance continues our schedule of in-school performances here in Chicago and Keiga Dance travels Europe teaching and performing, we both remain focused and committed to this project! It’s alot to juggle, but we know this process will produce an experience like no other for our audiences and for ourselves!  Jonas sends his heartfelt THANKS from the road and I encourage EVERYONE to keep talking about this project...keep sharing it with your family and friends…stay connected….send us prayers and good vibes….we need our village now more than EVER! Until next time

    Wabele Nyo (Thank You)

    Vershawn and Jonas

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Raymond Ward

    • Carla Sanders

    • Uraline Septembre Hager

    • Jewel Younge

    • Kawanda Johnson

    • Simone Outten

    • Jeneen Lomax

    • Deneane Richburg

    • Dawn Marie Galtieri

    • Tralyn McDowell

    • Ebony Ambrose

    • Robert Collins

    • Marilyn Stephens

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Connie Waters

    • Bernard Kendrick

    • Brea Sanders

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Clory Stephans

    • Terry Perdue

    • Tracie hall

    • Nora Sharp

    • Roland Williby

    • Billie Howard

    • Wendy Woodson

    • Jakina Dortch

    • La Keisha Leek

    • Jano Pryor

    • Janice Bailiff

    • Monya Ward

    • Gabrielle Herndon

    • Kevyn Harmon

    • Jana Taylor

    • Kayla Hamilton

    • Jeffrey Perkins

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Evelyn Danner

    • Erin Jaffe

    • Mindy Humphrey

    • Rob Ellis

    • Karen Wesley

    • Amy hutchison

    • Ebony Ambrose

    • Kesha Jackson

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Amina Dickerson

    • Jon Satrom

    • Anonymous Supporter

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council