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A Foot Soldier's Story

Cleveland Contemporary Dance honors a local legend.


Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater’s Daughter of a Buffalo Soldier pays tribute to Karamu House’s former dance troupe, the Karamu Dancers. The production originated a few years ago, when CCDT artistic director Michael Medcalf contemplated restaging one of the group’s old shows. Instead, he commissioned choreographer Dianne McIntyre to create a completely new multimedia dance piece that pays homage to Marjorie Witt Johnson, who founded the Karamu Dancers in the late '30s. “It’s such a wonderful way of acknowledging the past through the present,” says Medcalf.

Daughter of a Buffalo Soldier premiered at Karamu in 2005. CCDT performs it again at Oberlin College tonight. It tells the story of Johnson, who was born in the early 1900s in Wyoming to a “buffalo soldier” -- the nickname for a black army member back in the day. She ended up at Karamu, where she led its dance troupe to international fame. “Recreating a dance wouldn’t have been enough,” says Medcalf. “We realized we had to celebrate her story.”
Sat., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.

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