Albany Symphony introduces new artists

The Albany Symphony is diversifying their understanding of classical music through a collaborative, three-year project that introduces the community to three Black artistic innovators.

Dancer and choreographer Adia Whitaker has toured the world, performing in places like Brazil, West Africa, Cuba and now Albany. She’s bringing her moves and knowledge of Afro-Haitian dance to the Capital Region.

What You Need To Know

  • The Convergence Project is a three-year collaboration between the Albany Symphony and Black artistic innovators
  • Afro-Haitian and contemporary dancer Adia Whitaker holds free workshops to get the orchestra and community involved
  • The next Convergence Project workshop is 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9 with spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph

“I want them to see the power of dance as a joyous resistance,” said Whitaker, a dancer and choreographer. “It’s real, it’s not just hocus-pocus hippy. It’s a real ancient technology that our ancestors used to persevere.”

Whitaker and two other nationally acclaimed artists have partnered with the Albany Symphony for a three-year collaboration titled “The Convergence Project.”

The partnership looks to connect the orchestra with artists of color in an effort to become a more inclusive organization.

“We’re not just making something happen because there are new budgets for diversity, equity and inclusion, but trying to be in this process of becoming and figuring out what we’re doing while doing it,” Whitaker said.

While the artists work hands on with members of the symphony, another aspect of the three-year partnership is holding public workshops in local communities. Whitaker goes through the choreography in her classes, but she also breaks down the history behind every movement.

“This is survival music and dance; it’s not for entertainment. It’s for celebration, music and prayer,” Whitaker said. “A lot of us can’t afford to go to therapy every week, but we can afford to dance in our rooms; we can afford to write these words down and release them in these ways. These are ancient technologies that our ancestors used to heal themselves.”