Ms. Franchesska Y. Berry is a Professor of Dance, Choreographer, Educator, Cultural Ambassadress to Senegal and Fulbright Scholar. Franchesska Berry's work represents both the artistic and scholarly applications of dance.
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Artistic Statement

I draw from the different rivers of world dance, including ballet, modern, and jazz, and fuse them with contemporary Diaspora styles such as Brazilian, Haitian, Caribbean; and traditional West African styles of Djembe, Sabar, Kutiro to increase the fluidity and classic beauty of the dance form. What the audiences feel is the beauty of the dance that is transformative and pushes beyond root archetypes to create a new form. 

My art is informed by cultural modes of thinking and being in the world. Since I began my career as a dancer, my international scholarship has deepened my understanding of the capacity of dance to reach people. I realized as I took the concepts of the philosophical aspects of cultural difference and cognitive dissonance into the theater of the dance, I could not only effect spiritual and aesthetic impressions but intellectual and emotional ones as well. My intention has always been to shrink the gulfs of differences between groups of beings.

I aim to erode barriers without denying their existence by examining them together, reaching my hands out and feeling the textures of the differences, thereby experiencing them together and allowing them to unite rather than divide.  I invite audiences to embrace western and eastern modes, not just through linear lecture or just wordless movement, but by experiencing dance as part of thought. Through speaking, thought collaboration, and movement I bring bodies into understanding and my work becomes a kind of "kinesthetic scholarship." 

I began this fused mode of teaching and dancing during my time at Evergreen and Antioch and in Dakar, Senegal, serving two scholarly residencies, at Cheikh Anta Diop University and cemented it as a performance and teaching methodology during my year in Egypt as a Fulbright Scholar. 

During performance, I use dance, rhythm, oral tradition and multimedia presentations to layer my performances so that the audience/participants can see and feel the depth of past travels and experiences; the affects they have on the movements, the music, the cosmology and the choreography they are seeing. Just as the multimedia element adds context to the dance, the dance elevates the video from a static archival form to one as fluid and alive as the movement itself.

I strive to create art that encourages international arts educators, students and communities to discover and embrace the meaning and values associated with their own cultural heritage, origins, traditions, values, and beliefs.  I pray my work will inevitably cause one to 'look within' for illumination to ponder the possibility of greatness, appreciation, enlightenment and healing which take place through a shared artistic experience(s).
My aim is to continue on my artistic quest to gather together and crystallize my experiences in Africa, Australia, and Egypt: to put on even firmer and more refined footing my experience as a multicultural, global, and relational artist who grasps the essential value of putting the imagination and insight at the center of art which lives and breathes and draws us in.

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