Noted for ‘D-Man in the Waters’ production
A dance performer’s impact on the world often begins with inspiring the youth through flexible, carefree, passionate, and invigorating movements. Rosalynde LeBlanc is a performer who received the inspiration to dance after witnessing a particular dance during her early teenage years.
LeBlanc’s love for dancing and performing started at a young age as she grew up learning about her mother’s dancing career.
“My mother was the first Black woman dancer for the Pope Taylor Dance Company from 1959 to 1966,” LeBlanc said as she described her introduction to the dance world. “Her legacy loomed large in the house as there was always a poster of her career and accomplishments, and every year we would go to New York for her events.”
LeBlanc detailed how her mom was a dance instructor at the university level and would “drag” her to the classes and have her watch and sometimes practice with the other students. “I formally started dancing at the age of 13 as I attended dance classes weekly, but I wasn’t interested in having a career in it because I didn’t want to be like my mom,” LeBlanc said. “It wasn’t until I saw the Bill T. Jones//Arnie Zane Company in 1989 at the American Dance Festival, performing D-Man in the Waters, that helped me decide that I wanted to make this my career because I wanted to perform that routine with them.”
“D-Man in the Waters” was choreographed by Bill T. Jones in 1989 at the height of the AIDS epidemic to honor the buoyant spirit of the dancer Demian Acquavella, who would die of the disease the following year. Jones’ partner, Artie Zane, himself would die of AIDS the previous year, as well as the legendary Alvin Aliey who died the same year of the aforementioned disease.
LeBlanc blazed her path as she started to excel at dancing and eventually was able to work as a dancer for Bill T. Jones company (1993-1999) and other companies like Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project (1999-2002) and the Liz Gerring Dance Company (2003-2006). LeBlanc then started doing freelance work before following in her mother’s footsteps by entering the education world, starting as a faculty member at Loyola Marymount University before working her way up to now being the Chair of the Dance Program.
LeBlanc has also added director to her list of career hats as she was the co-director for the documentary “Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters,” to honor her former mentor.
“The importance of Bill T. Jones and his company during that time was showing what dance could do, not just what it is,” LeBlanc said as she highlighted the performance and the impact she hopes it will have on viewers. “ It’s a common belief that dance is visual and about beauty, but it is not, especially at that time in particular, we were seeing what dance could do as it allowed a group of people to survive doing a time of fear for them.”
The documentary began streaming exclusively on April 3 on WORLDChannel.org, BlackPublic Media’s YouTube Channel [https://www.youtube.com/@BlackPublicMedia], and on the WORLD Youtube Channel as part of the 15th season of Afropop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange.
Also, “Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters” will have its national television premiere on WORLD Channel. Viewers can check their local listings to find their local WORLD Channel station.