S/BAD (Sacramento/Black Art of Dance) celebrates its 25th anniversary and bids farewell to its founder in a series of dance concerts this week. Dr. Linda Goodrich is retiring from Sac State after 27 years and makes her goodbyes the only way she knows how: in dance. She choreographed three of the nine pieces on the program — and performs in the opening number.
The Sacramento/Black Art of Dance troupe explores the tradition of dance pioneered by Katherine Dunham, the legendary dancer, choreographer and anthropologist who studied dance movement throughout the Caribbean and combined them with ballet and modern dance to create a black concert dance form.
In a telephone interview before Wednesday’s opening night performance, Goodrich sounded wistful but resigned to her retirement.
“I actually retired five years ago,” she said, “but I took advantage of a university offer that allowed me to return to work part-time for five years. Well, my time is up.”
Her farewell program is a sampler of African and African-inspired modern dance. More than 50 dancers perform Goodrich chose each of the choreographers represented in the program, including a couple of prominent Sacramento dance-makers, James Wheatley and Pepper Von.
Wheatley (founder and artistic director of Celebration Arts in East Sacramento) choreographed the balletic “Moments in a Crowded Place.” It had a graceful elegance that stood out from some of the more vigorous dances on the program. Goodrich said Wheatley “choreographed for us last year, and we wanted the master back.” She even referred to him as Master James Wheatley in her director’s notes in the program.
Von “is such a staple in the community,” Goodrich said, that she wanted to celebrate and promote his work. He delivered a rousing spiritual dance, “You Get What You Believe,” a testament to the power of faith and the joy life brings. It was also smartly regimented and featured some of the acrobatics for which Von is now internationally known.
Goodrich performed in “Rumba Pa’ Africa, choreographed by Beatriz Godinez-Munoz to “Africa” by John Santos, performed live on stage by the Sacramento-based Ebo Okokan. She joined the Ebo Okokan group of dancers, singers and drummers. Their Afro-Cuban music and dance provided a heart-pounding opening for the program.
“In the Eye of the Storm,” choreographed by Halifu Osumare, was remarkable for the reoccuring appearance of the African spirit Oya, the Yoruban goddess of storms and wind and the protector of women. Oya is danced by Ayo Walker. Osumare recently retired as professor of African American & African Studies at UC Davis. She danced with Goodrich in Oakland’s CityCentre Dance Theater in the late 1970s.
Among other highlights of the concert were “Le Serpent dans l’arc-en-ciel,” choreographed by Goodrich to “Rainbow Children” by Prince; “Send Me,” a solo dance choreographed and performed by Nicole Manker to music by Hugh Masekela; and “Lost But Not Forgotten,” presented in two sections, the first choreographed by Goodrich and the second by the late Leon Jackson (also of CityCenter Dance Theater), reconstructed by Goodrich.
After the semester ends, Goodrich said she and her husband plan to travel. “I want to get back to Cuba,” where she has led dance workshops in the past and hopes to do more study of dance, she said.
The future of S/BAD at Sac State is under discussion, but Goodrich says there still will be “some configuration” of it at the university.
Performances of the S/BAD 25th Anniversary program will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday on the University Theatre’s Main Stage in Shasta Hall. Tickets for most performances are $12 general admission, with discounts for students, seniors and children. To purchase tickets in advance, call (916) 278-4323 or go to csus.edu.
Photo courtesy of Sacramento State/Craig Koscho