Central Avenue Dance Ensemble demonstrates history of black dance



The Central Avenue Dance Ensemble, a multi-aged performance group, was led by Chester Whitmore in the Marsee Auditorium on Feb. 20. Photo credit: Alisa Banks

The seats were filled quickly and in a timely matter, the room full of chatter with buzz of wonder and anticipation for what the performance would show.

The Argentine Tango, a completely different form of the tango than what we see today, came about.

The way the woman moved her hips to the beat of the song and the way the man took such interest in her style and her movements.

On Saturday night, El Camino’s Marsee Auditorium hosted a dance performance for Black History Month about black dance through history.

The Central Avenue Dance Ensemble, a multi-aged performance group, was led by Chester Whitmore, who is an artist, director, choreographer and principal dancer.

“The young dancers today (were) very energetic,” Whitmore said about the dancers.

The performance had a number of different dances shown to the audiences from as early as the Zulu dance, a tribal dance in Africa, all the way to Hip Hop from the early ’90s, until now.

The intimacy from the Argentine Tango was definitely felt during the performance and one of the more moving dances which I found interesting, as the theme of the dances throughout the performance was more or less abstract – just to show the audience.

Keanu Kaneshiro, a Torrance resident, was one of the attendees who went, not because of school, but through hearing it from others.

“My friend actually goes to El Camino and he mentioned something about a dance ensemble happening here on campus,” Kaneshiro said.

Kaneshiro loves to dance and although he doesn’t do it anymore, he was interested in what the show had to offer and decided to go and check it out.

“My favorite dances of the night was the tap,” Kaneshiro said. “I think it was a lot more lively in this second act than the first.”

Micah Allred, 20, political major, had attended the dance only because of his dance appreciation class.

“I’m more or less here just because of the dance class,” he said. “But I did enjoy some of the dances, like the Cakewalk and its history behind it all.”

During a question and answer series after the show, Madonna Grimes (guest star), Whitmore, and Ron Parker (director, choreographer, writer, producer and dancer), all said that knowledge is key to a successful dance career.

Whitmore said that “getting out there is one thing, but getting to know the knowledge, is another.”