Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago celebrates 45 years

EMBED </>More Videos

Forty-five years after Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago was started, the performance company is focusing in on the next generation of dancers. (WLS)

Forty-five years after Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago was started, the performance company is focusing in on the next generation of dancers.

Muntu prides itself on using movement to show African culture to youth and adults. Muntu dancers are technically trained in many forms of dance.

"My dancers are well trained and diverse from ballet, to jazz to hip hop, to bop, to African to Latin, lindy hop," said artistic director Amianiyea Payne, who has been with the company for 31 years.

Payne remembers a time when the company fought to be seen and heard.

"We worked hard to be able to get this acknowledged. Back in the 70s it was not even considered an art form," she said. "So those doors and bridges have been built and opened and moved and more can be done."

Education has been the foundation of Muntu since its inception. Learning the history before taking it to the stage.

"We learn about the foundation of whichever dance style or genre that we're dealing with because study and being studious and understanding what you're doing is very important. The study of the movements and the significance of what each dance represents," Payne said.

Everything that is learned is passed on in performances in schools and from generation to generation of dancers that take part.

"The company has always been inter-generational. We've always been inter-generational. We've had fathers and daughters, mother and mothers, mothers fathers and daughters and sons all performing in this company. Sometimes at the same time, sometimes at different times," Payne said.

When it comes to looking ahead to the next 45 years of the company the focus remains on teaching the next generation.

"We'll definitely going back to the youth, we have to reach out to them and make them feel that this is a place that they can call home," Payne said. "Muntu, for me, is an institution and I want to continue it along the path that those who came before me were on and what they wanted to try to build with Muntu."
Related Topics:
entertainmentdanceblack history monthChicagoJackson Park
(Copyright ©2018 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.)