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COBA - School
COBA's company in 'Orisha Suite'
COBA:Reviews
THE TORONTO STAR FRIDAY, MARCH 2002 COBA DANCERS' ENERGY ENVELOPES AUDIENCE BY SUSAN WALKER, DANCE WRITER
Photo of BaKari E. Lindsay, co-founder of COBA, the Collective of Black Artists

Universal Language, the show performed by COBA (Collective Of Black Artists) through tomorrow night at the Premiere Dance Theatre, is very much a community affair. The company has never looked so strong, the energy exuded by the COBA dancers, and musicians enveloped the audience on opening night. Choreographer and co-artistic director Eddison B. Lindsay took a big risk in demonstrating that dance can serve a social purpose, with Griot's Jive, a piece that opens with some inspired hip-hop moves and the break-dancing of Germaine Archer. The fun ends with the sound of a gunshot and the piece becomes a memorial to the young black men who have lost their lives in violent incidents in Toronto and a plea to end the violence. Although the video footage of mothers testifying about the loss of their sons begins to overwhelm the dancing, Griot's Jive, a journey back to African spiritual values through chants and ritual movement, is a powerful piece. Two short pieces, Distant Voices, choreographed by Lindsay, and Inspirit, by Charmaine Headley, combined elements of Afro-Caribbean and modem dance to good effect. The latter half of the show features music from COBA's outstanding percussionists and singers. Rarely does a Toronto dance company engage so many performers to such exhilarating effect. A musical interlude of drumming and chanting set the scene for Transe, a new work by Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus. A huge dance, with Lindsay in a charismatic, central role, Transe captures the mood of a Carnival procession and returns that form of dance to its spiritual roots. When it was over, COBA had transformed the stage of the Premiere Dance Theatre into a sacred space.

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