Raissa Simpson’s PUSH Dance Company Builds Vibrant Contemporary Dances To Gain A Deeper Understanding Of The Challenges Attributed To Mixed Heritage.

#theRona Chronicles | Idris Ackamoor

#theRona Chronicles



#theRona Chronicles invites the performers, collaborators and staff of The Motley Experiment to reflect upon its postponement from its original March 2020 premiere to February 2021. Created in residency at Bayview Opera House, set to live music by Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids, Raissa Simpson’s The Motley Experiment, and the collaborators who bring the project to life, are adapting and moving along with changes in the time of the COVID-19 (Corona Virus) pandemic.

What were you doing before the COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place order?

I was preparing for The Motley Experiment as the composer for the production and I attended some very nice rehearsals! I was extremely excited about the choreography and it was a joy to see the movement to my music!

As well, I was working very hard on a number of projects like my upcoming album release on STRUT RECORDS of London entitled, “SHAMAN!” which includes some of the music from The Motley Experiment. In addition, I was involved working with my company’s project, The African American Theater Alliance for Independence (AATAIN!) and we had an all day retreat on February 24 that was really amazing!

How are you practicing your craft during the pandemic?

It is quite easy for me to practice my craft since I am an alto and tenor saxophonist as well as composer and tap dancer – all of which I do regularly whether I am sheltering-in-place or not. It is just my discipline and regiment I do daily!

What do you look forward to doing with The Motley Experiment when the order is lifted?

I look forward to picking up where we left off!

What is a current grounding practice you are using right now?

Just staying active and practicing and composing intensively!

Idris Ackamoor is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, actor, tap dancer, producer, administrator, and director. He is the Founder of the San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey and the Founder, Artistic Director of the legendary jazz and world music ensemble Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids is just returning from a summer and fall 2019 tour performing throughout Europe including shows in the Czech Republic, Sweden, Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and many other locations. He also recorded a brand new album while in London for STRUT Records entitled, SHAMAN! which will be released as a double vinyl album in June 2020. Compositions from the album will be featured in the PUSH 2020 Spring Season production co-presented by Bayview Opera House. 

Ackamoor has performed and collaborated with tenor Saxophonists Chico Freeman and John Tchicai, the late alto saxophonist Charles Tyler, drummer Famoudou Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, The Cecil Taylor Creative Orchestra, choreographer/dancer Bill T. Jones, the late writer Ntozake Shange, his longtime partner, actress Rhodessa Jones, and many others. He was a protégé of Chicago legendary master clarinetist Clifford King who had played with Jelly Roll Morton and Freddie Keppard in the 1920s. Ackamoor received his B.A. in Music from Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio where one of his most influential teachers was the influential pianist Cecil Taylor. He has also studied tap dance with legendary hoofers Al Robinson, Steve Condos, and Eddie Brown. He is one of the first musicians of his generation to have traveled, lived and studied in Africa in 1972/73. During his stay in Africa, he performed with the King’s Prayer Drummers of Tamale, Ghana as well as lived in Kenya where he studied the music of the Kikuyu and Masai.

To learn more about PUSH Dance Company’s response to COVID-19, and how you can support our Artists, Teachers, and Outreach program, read our statement here.