AFRICAN AMERICAN DANCE ENSEMBLE With more than 30 years of programming and community experience, African American Dance Ensemble Executive Director Dr. Angeloe Burch Sr. does not feel caught off guard by the pandemic. Instead, his concerns center on staying authentic as the organization pivots to a virtual presence. Online experiences are not ideal, Angeloe says, “the beating of the drums, the clapping of the hands, the yelps and hollers. ... You cannot experience this in its depth and in truth on a computer.” For now, Angeloe continues to advocate for his organization and expand AADE’s wellness initiatives, including healthy cooking lessons and collaborating with medical personnel to help monitor common health concerns. The absence of summer camps full of kids, community dance performances and groups of volunteers is felt keenly by each organization. Despite these times of hardship and division in our nation, there is a resiliency in each group as they look to the future. “As we all endure this space and time of our lives,” Angeloe says, “I remember the words of Baba Chuck Davis, our founder and still our guide: ‘When we’re dancing together, there is no time to hate one another.’”
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Pop-up style events illustrate the “finding a joyful surprise around the corner” ethos that Sharon likes to see the program embody. There was one staff member who was able to enjoy the art on the walls as well as an inhouse musician playing a favorite song. “I had the perfect five minutes,” the person said, “and that’s all I needed.” Arts & Health will offer their annual employee art show virtually this year, and even some patient services are now online. With an eye to the future, Arts & Health is partnering with the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation to create a mural celebrating hospital staff. “It is going to be a powerful message of how important they are to all of us, not just at Duke, but to this community.” The mural is slated to be complete by the end of this year.
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