January 30, 2022

Ethio-Modern Dance with 

Dr. RAS Mikey Courtney

Class Description: In an effort to illuminate the depth of Ethiopian culture and her influence globally, for nearly 15 years Dr. RAS Mikey C has researched and developed a theoretical movement concept he refers to as Ethio-Modern Dance. Ethio-Modern Dance integrates Dr. RAS’ embodied cultural experiences of Ethiopia and other cultures such as Western classical, contemporary/modern and urban dance.  These embodied cultural experiences are then used as tools in my creative processes as a Western contemporary artist. 

This masterclass will take a modern/contemporary dance approach towards teaching Dr. RAS’ embodied understanding of some of Ethiopia’s traditional dances from the various regions in the country. Some of these dances include: Eskista, a traditional shoulder dance from the lower-highland region; Wolaita, a regional culture in Southern Ethiopia whose movement characteristics are commonly associated with isolations of the hips; and Gurage, also a culture from the South and known as a fast-paced full bodied movements.  As in most African cultures music and dance are interrelated. This is also true for Ethiopia, and this masterclass will also explore the nuances of Ethiopian music and its relation to the cultural movements.  Dr. RAS’ experiences in Ethiopia and the world have given him a broader sense of himself and his purpose to humanity.  The aim of this masterclass is to expose participants to one of the underrepresented cultural heritages of the African continent, in an effort to promote others to engage with Ethiopian and other marginalized cultures in their own way.

Biography: Dr. RAS Mikey Courtney is an acclaimed cultural conduit using edutainment to spread universal understanding to global communities.Dr. RAS is co-founder and CEO of Fore I’m a Versatile Entertainer (F.I.V.E.) LLC. He holds a B.F.A. in Dance from UARTS Philadelphia, an MA in Ethnochoreology and a PhD in Arts Practice Research from the University of Limerick in Ireland.  His research and doctoral thesis, entitled Bridging Horizons: Embodied Cultural Understanding through the Development and Presentation of Ethio-Modern Dance, explores ‘movement as cultural knowledge’ and artistic practice as methodology. Dr. RAS has collaborated with artists and companies from around the world, including Pilobolus, Raven-Symoné, Major Lazer, The Marley Family, Chronixx, AfroFlow, the African Union and more. He was recently won an Emmy award his choreographic direction of the viral music video, “One Nation – Detroit”. 

Dr. RAS is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Wayne State University and as a faculty advisor for the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College. ‘Movement is life and I am a Lifist…’ www.rasmikeyc.com