Before World War II, an estimated 5,000 blacks lived in San Francisco; and after the war, there were over 50,000. in the 1940s, African Americans from the coastal areas of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi migrated to seek jobs in the region’s shipyards and docks. The black population in the Bay Area further grew with waves of immigration from the Caribbean in the 1950s and from Africa in the 1960s.
Composer Anthony Brown and Dimensions Dance Theater collaborated to create Cross Currents, a multi-disciplinary work exploring the personal stories and legacies of these migrations, drawing upon the personal histories of Brown, a San Francisco native of African, Native American and Japanese descent, and Dimensions’ Artistic Director, Deborah Vaughan, who has a deep knowledge of African and African American dance forms and their cultural context.
Percussionist, composer, ethnomusicologist, and Guggenheim Fellow, Anthony Brown holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in music (ethnomusicology) from UC Berkeley, and a Master of Music degree in jazz performance from Rutgers University. As director of Anthony Brown’s Orchestra, he has become a seminal figure in contemporary California creative music, known for blending pan-Asian instruments and sensibilities with jazz. The score he composed for Cross Currents incorporated spirituals, blues, gospels, jazz, contemporary music, and spoken word along with influences from Asia and the Caribbean.
Dimensions Dance Theater is a professional dance company and school that was founded in Oakland, California in the early 1970s. It is widely recognized for its outstanding presentation of both traditional African dances and contemporary choreography drawn from African, Jazz, and Modern dance idioms.