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What Is BNDP?

A BNDP His-Story

Stafford C. Berry, Jr. (left) and C. Kemal Nance (right) realized their mutual passion for the arts as high school students in the Swarthmore College TRIO Upward Bound Program. Early in their careers they felt that American Concert Dance lacked the presence of dancing Black men in their authenticity – dancing their dances with their own movement language. In 1992 the two joined forces with a third dancer to form the Seventh Principle Performance Company – a dance company that offered innovative choreography in the Unfundalai Technique. Their concurrent departure from the company gave way to the Berry & Nance Dance Project (BNDP), and in 1997 Berry and Nance began presenting dances about African American manhood. They soon reached national audiences and ventured abroad with Chuck Davis' African American Dance Ensemble and Kariamu & Company: Traditions. In a response to their 2004 concert called Enlightenment - which marked a return to native Philly - the Philadelphia Inquirer deemed the duo a “compelling pair". Since then, BNDP has expanded its membership, focussing its work on three goals:

1. to create a space for thought provoking African dance choreography that uses African American male experiences as its content,
2. to feature brown male bodies in (e)motion, and
3. to create a platform to heighten the quality of African dance teaching in the United States.

Some of the awards the BNDP has received include the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance 5-County Arts Award (2003 and 2004), and Swarthmore College’s Cooper Foundation Grant. In October 2012, B&NDP traveled to London, England to premiere Kariamu Welsh’s latest work, Same Father, Different Mother, at the Re-Generation Conference.

Pictured: Stafford C. Berry, Jr. and C. Kemal Nance; Photography: Steve Clark

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