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Ashani Dances to Open June 7

Ashani Dances to Open June 7

: Courtesy Ashani Dances.

Ashani Dances to Open June 7

: Courtesy Ashani Dances.

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Headed by Cornish Assistant Professor of Dance Iyun Harrison, Ashani Dances will present the premieres of three new works at the Erickson Theatre.

Ashani Dances, the company founded and headed by Cornish’s Iyun Ashani Harrision, will open its three-performance Annual Concert on June 7, 2013. The concert, which plays for three performances over three days closing June 9, features three original works: Artifact, Like Sand Between My Fingers, and After Snow. The performances will be held in the Erickson Theatre at Seattle Central Community College at 1524 Harvard Avenue on Capitol Hill. All three performances start at 7 pm.


Artifact is a large ensemble dance set to Seattle composer and percussionist, Ben Morrow’s dynamic composition. Harrison’s choreography is inspired by the traditional African-Caribbean dances of his home, Jamaica. Like Sand Between My Fingers features an impassioned portrayal of a young man’s loss of his mother danced by Brenna Monroe-Cook formerly of The Limon Company and Seattle Dance Project and Sam Picart (DA ‘13), recent Cornish College of the Arts graduate. The piece is choreographed to Eugene Ysaÿe’s haunting Violin Sonata #2 In A Minor. After Snow is a visual representation of William Hayes’ world-premiere piano quartet. The cast includes Heather Eichhorst (formerly of Louisville Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet and ARC Dance), Christina Kennedy (formerly of Phoenix Dance Company, ReddLegg and Bad MarMar) and Julie Opiel (Ballet Memphis).

According to its mission statement,  the guiding purpose of Ashani Dances is “to explore places where ‘finesse’ confront raw athleticism and ‘beauty’ distorts into palpable emotional expression. The company creates vivid theatrical imagery that both entertains and provokes thought – offering voyeuristic glimpses into the passions of everyday life. The eclectic choreography of Ashani Dances is grounded in the traditions of modern dance, classical ballet, and celebrates Africanist movement aesthetics: the result is an exciting hybrid dance form.”


Iyun Ashani Harrison is the artistic director and founder of Asahni Dances, a Seattle-based dance company founded in the summer of 2011. He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Juilliard School and master of fine arts degree from Hollins University/American Dance Festival. Over the 13 years of his performing career in New York City, he danced with Arthur Mitchell’s Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet Hispanico of New York, National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, and Ailey II. He has appeared as guest artist with Connecticut Ballet, Buglisi Dance Theatre and Lubbock Ballet. Mr. Harrison danced in works by George Balanchine, Jiri Kylian, José Limón, Paul Taylor, Michael Smuin, Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovitch, Donald Byrd, Talley Beatty, and George Faison. His television credits include PBS’ Setting the Stage 2007, NBC’s 20th Hispanic Heritage Awards, PBS’ Who’s Dancin’ Now?Arts Education in Your Community, and The South Bank Show in England. Mr. Harrison has taught/choreographed for the Juilliard Dance Ensemble, Ailey School, American Dance Festival, Jamaica School of Dance, University of the West Indies at Cave Hill – Barbados, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, American College Dance Festival and on the full-time faculty at Webster University in St. Louis, MO. Mr. Harrison’s choreography was selected for the region gala performance of the American College Dance Festival at the University of Illinois, Urban- Champaign and for the national American College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He is a current member of Seattle Dance Project and an Assistant Professor of dance at Cornish College of the Arts (Visit for more information).

William Hayes is a composer and guitarist currently based in Seattle, Washington. As a composer of acoustic and electronic music, he involves himself with a variety of musicians around the country and has had works performed by the Seattle Chamber Players, the Corigliano Quartet, Trio Pardalote, St. Helens Quartet, the Jim Knapp Orchestra and many others. As a performer and improviser, he also works collaboratively with composers Ryan Jobes and Benjamin Marx. Hayes frequently collaborates with artists in producing pieces for film and dance, including visual artists Christopher Walsh and Jordan Rundle, choreographers Iyun Harrison, Matt Drews, Babette McGeady, and is resident composer with the Pendleton House. He is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts, where he studied composition with Wayne Horvitz and Jarrad Powell.

Ben Morrow was raised in Boise, Idaho where his musical studies and training began. After graduating from the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton School of Music he moved to Seattle with roots/rock band Zingara. While in Seattle he has performed in a wide variety of musical situations, ranging from concert percussion with the Bellevue Philharmonic and Rainier Symphony to working as a dance accompanist for Cornish College of the Arts. He has also performed as a drummer with many different groups in Seattle’s vibrant independent music scene, in styles ranging from jazz, folk, country and theater to Beatles tribute bands and martial arts demonstrations. His favorite food is bananas. Ben has toured the Northwest US, Alaska and Canada with the aforementioned group Zingara and has traveled throughout Mexico and the Caribbean as a jazz musician for Carnival Cruise Lines, playing with his brother Q and bassist Neslon Saarni in the now infamous Cardinal Hamilton Trio. As a soloist he performed with the Washington/Idaho Symphony as winner of their 2002 Young Artist Competition. Mr. Morrow has taught percussion at Music Works NW, the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and Des Moines Elementary.


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