AUG 14 | In-Person & Livestreamed 


Tonight, our artists come from as far south as Washington DC, and as far east as Springfield Gardens, Romania, and Indonesia. Audiences will see tap, Southeast Asian dance ritual, contemporary, and West African cultural dance presented in each company’s signature style.


This program is made possible in part by our international partner organizations:

DutchCultureUSA at the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia and Kampung Seni Baruga Kaluarrang, the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, UNATC & unteatru Theatre.


Thanks also to our independent Curatorial Panel for selecting these wonderful companies. See detailed program information below.

Time & Location 

In-person: 7pm EDT at Rockefeller Park. Click here for directions.

Livestream: https://vimeo.com/854512126?share=copy

The video will be available to watch for 10 days after the premiere and will expire on Aug 24.

Register for free to receive the livestream link and bonus content


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Two dancers tap dance in white costumes.


Sole Defined Live

About SOLE Defined LIVE: SOLE Defined LIVE is an immersive sensory-driven performance experience transforming audiences from spectators to performers while activating their internal rhythmic knowledge. The company is premiering Body Language, a sonic and kinetic exploration of African Diasporic Percussive Dance with technology building an original score exploring improvisation, narration, and instrumentation in real-time. SOLE Defined LIVE was developed at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in an Office Hours Residency, premiered at Jacob’s Pillow and is making its New York City premier at Battery Dance Festival.


Choreographer: Ryan K. Johnson, Quynn Johnson, and Cartier Williams
Dancers: Ryan K. Johnson, Quynn L. Johnson, Ana Tomioshi, Reina Williams, Jodeci Milhouse, Makayla Eugene, Hezekiah Hawkins
Music: Tamar Greene & Ryan Johnson
Musicians/Producers: Raina William and Patrick O’Neal

I. Let’s Take That Ride | Ensemble
II. Libation | Ensemble
III. The Galaxy | Reina Williams
IV. Woman’s World | Quynn, Ana, Jodeci
V. RawSoundz | Ryan
VI. Kou Kou on Tap | Ensemble

About the Company

SOLE Defined (@soledefinedlive) is the Washington Metro area’s leading arts organization specializing in percussive dance – using the body as an instrument to create musical expression synthesized with integrated media, technology, and storytelling. The company specializes in African Diasporic Percussive Dance methodologies, specifically Tap Dance, Body Percussion, and Sand Dance infused with original music and audience participation. In 2011, the company was established to combat the inequalities prevalent in the performing arts and academic continuums, which historically advance Western movement methodologies, othering the histories, techniques, and practitioners of African Diasporic Percussive Dance. SOLE Defined has performed at Jacob’s Pillow, The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, The Clark Theater at The Lincoln Center, Queens Theatre, Dance Place, and across the mid-Atlantic region.

About the Founders: 

Ryan Johnson, M.F.A, is a co-founder of SOLE Defined. His career includes The Beatles LOVE & Mosaic by Cirque Du Soleil, STOMP, Step Afrika!, Broadway’s After Midnight Tour, Rose Rabbit Lie at The Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino, and The Washington Ballet. Quynn Johnson, Ed.M, is a co-founder of SOLE Defined, International Arts-Based Educator and Teaching Artist, an award-winning choreographer, cast member of Ayodele Casel Chasing Magic, Broadway’s After Midnight on NCL, The Washington Ballet and Mosaic by Cirque Du Soleil.


Darkly lit, black and white image of a man with his hands on his hips.


Veiled From the Womb

Veiled from the Womb explores memories of erasure. The grandson of an African American grandfather and Puerto Rican and White grandmother, Will’s aunts, mothers and siblings were not allowed to learn Spanish or the cultural heritage of his grandmother. As a result, the piece explores brief glimpses of that culture and its suppression as well as what it may have been like were he to have been exposed.


Choreographer: Will A. Ervin Jr.
Dancers: Zaki A. Marshall, Spencer Everett, Will A. Ervin Jr
Music and Composer: Artuo O’Farrill

About the Company

Will is an east coast native. He earned his BFA in dance from Montclair State University (May 2017). He graduated with an MFA in dance from the University of Illinois in May 2020. He has also trained with Joffrey Ballet, EMIA Rennie Harris, Jacob’s Pillow, and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet. 

Since graduating, Ervin has performed at the Alexander Kasser Theatre, the Joyce Theatre, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Hearts of Men ensemble. As Artistic Director of his company Erv Works Dance, he has presented choreography at the University of Illinois set on 1st year Dance Majors, the Dumbo Dance Festival, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Recent works were choreographing for Kemar Jewels Dance Film project headlining 2021’s Global Black Pride event where Kemar’s work was presented after the keynote speaker President Joe Biden, Battery Dance Festival, Maria Torres’s Sol El Barrio, and the Joyce Theatre in partnership with Future Dance Festival, 92 St Y, and The Martha Graham Dance Company.

Other accomplishments include interning with American Ballet Theatre’s Major Gifts Department, previously serving as the Co. Director of Dance at Brooklyn Center for the Arts and Resident Choreographer of Judah International Dance Theater. He was recently named Dance Lab by Josh Prince’s 2022 fall cycle choreographer, Dance on the Lawn’s 2022 emerging commissioned choreographer, and just set work on Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami.


In a garden, four dancers raise their arms to the side and look down.


Here We Root (Excerpt)

“Here We Root” is an original contemporary dance inspired by Asian immigrants’ stories, focusing on the Chinese diaspora in Flushing, New York. It invites audiences to experience, reflect on, and celebrate Asian immigrant identities and experiences. The piece combines movements with text, theatre, and an original score to unveil stories that are often untold through performing arts.

This project is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Choreographer: Jiemin Yang in collaboration with performers
Dancers: Kathy Chen, Sumire Ishige, Maya Lam, Angie Lu, Tsubasa Nishioka, Mayu Yamashita
Music: James Acampora, Darren Huang, Danting Qiao
Narrator: Chun Cho
Costume: Hao-Yun Emily Hsieh
Script: Jiemin Yang
Script Consultant: Dennis Yue Yeh Li
VO Sound Engineer: Niko Vaude/Vaudeville Music studios

Special thanks to all interviewees who participated in the research of this project. 

About the Company

Jiemin is a Chinese-American choreographer and graphic designer based in Queens. He holds a MA in Contemporary Dance from London Contemporary Dance School and a BS from Macaulay Honors College at Queens College. His dance film Wo/我 won awards from the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon ’22 and Queens World Film Festival ’22. He was a resident artist of CUNY Dance Initiative at Queens College/Kupferberg Center for the Arts from 2021-2022. He has been one of the awardees of Redtail Artist Residencies ’23 at JCAL.


In front of a tree, one dancer smiles and waves their hand while another dancer leans forward with their elbows out.



Lebonna (2022) is a dance piece inspired by the ancient oral literature of Toraja titled “Massudilalong sola Lebonna”. It tells the story of the war commander, Massudilalong Paerengan, and the most beautiful girl in his village, Lebonna. In their relationship, both of them vowed that their love would be eternal and they would remain together in life and death. They also pledged to be buried in the same grave once they passed away. However, fate had other plans, and their love story ended tragically.

Batara Gowa’s appearance at the 42nd Annual Battery Dance Festival 2023 is made possible by the generous support of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia and Kampung Seni Baruga Kaluarrang.


Artistic Director: Andi Muhammad Redo
Choreographer: Nur Asma Syukur
Music: Syamsuddin S. (Ancu Batara)
Group Manager: Mohammad Reiza
Costumes: Umaya Bajubodo Ethnic
Dancers: Muh Rezha, Jelly Engrita Pualillin, Nur Asma Syukur
Musicians: Syamsuddin S., Andi Redo
Story Teller: Luna Vidya

About the Company

Batara Gowa is a dance group and cultural arts institution established since 1967, located in Makassar City, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. It was founded by the artistic maestros, Andi Ummu Tunru and Basri B. Sila, with the aim of providing ample opportunities for the younger generation to hone their talents and skills at Batara Gowa, guided by the vision of “Building Cultural Diplomacy Through the Arts.” Its activities include dance and music performances, opera, rituals, workshops, and a center for cultural arts research. In most of their works Batara Gowa is inspired by the uniqueness of the local culture in South Sulawesi. Currently, Batara Gowa is under the direction of Andi Muhammad Redo as the artistic director and Nur Asma Syukur as the choreographer.

English translation of Bahasa Makassar text. 

Black and white image one dancer catching another dancer.


Special People

The dance performance “Special People” invites the audience to become aware of contemporary people’s exacerbated self-centered nature. The word “special” ironically describes individuals who picture themselves as superior to everybody else because they happen to be richer yet who rely on external, trivial props, and not on their inherent worth, to draw attention to themselves and claim their position on the social ladder. The performance is structured in five sequences based on an original vocabulary of movement to portray how the consuming desire for material goods impact one’s body and attitude; the fabulous costumes made by the designer and scenographer Corina Boboc and the original soundtrack complement the expressive choreography to create a vivid picture of the absurdity of a purely materialistic life.

This performance is a co-production of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, UNATC & unteatru Theatre.


Choreographer: Teodora Velescu and Lari Giorgescu
Scenography: Corina Boboc
Music: Electric Brother, Adrian Nour, Adrian Piciorea
Voice: Aylin Cadir

About the Company

Teodora Velescu has BA in Choreographic Creation and a MA in Choreography and Dance from the National University of Theater and Cinematography in Bucharest. She specialized in classical dance at the “Floria Capsali” Choreography High School and from 2011 she has collaborated with the Bucharest National Opera, the Bucharest National Theatre, the Children’s Opera in Bucharest and the Bucharest National Dance Center. Lari Giorgescu has been an actor with the National Theater in Bucharest since 2012. In the same year, he debuted in “D`ale Noastre”, a show choreographed by Gigi Căciuleanu, for which he was nominated for the UNITER Awards, Romania’s most prestigious accolades for theatrical achievement. He studied acting at the National University of Theater and Cinematography in Bucharest and graduated in 2008 and is currently pursuing a PhD at the same university under the guidance of Professor Liviu Lucaci.

In a park, three dancers smile with a leg and both of their arms raised.



UPLIFTED! represents the eternal desire of people for healing, strength and to be uplifted during their life journey.  UPLIFTED! shares the story of many people as they pull on their ancient history and culture to request, gather and then release the healing back into the universe.


Choreographer: Ghizamboule Robinson & Shola Jones
Dancers: Kim Bailey, Kiabi Hopkins, Kayla Johnson, Tunisha Johnson, Jordyn Pigott, Noelle Pigott, Thandiwe Price Kennard, Iyanu Ray, Ashonte Rhodes, Rasheeda Rhodes, Lenea Stevens 
Music and Composer: Kirov Briggs, Eddie Jones, Khari Kamu, Atiba Morales

About the Company

FANIKE! African Dance Troupe is from Queens, NY. FANIKE! projects traditions of West African cultural arts; dance & drum rhythms, songs, and ancestral memories. We marry the beauty of African culture, live music with historical context. FANIKE’s choreography brings traditional polyrhythmic movement to the present with excitement and freedom capturing the essence of Africa. FANIKE means uplift which drives our mission to ensure that African dance and percussion are passed to the next generation through research, cultural immersion and performance.