Greater Roxbury Arts & Cultural Center, Inc., (GRACC) the nonprofit formed in 2022 to develop a Black and Latinx-focused visual and performing arts center in Nubian Square, has announced that OrigiNation Inc. (OrigiNation) will be its resident dance company at GRACC when it is completed, making OrigiNation the first professional Black and Latino youth dance company in the nation in residence at a performing arts center especially designed for the African and Latinx Diasporas.
OrigiNation’s Professional Dance Division (PDD) will present a season of performances at GRACC annually in GRACC's 310-seat stage theater as the resident dance company.
“OrigiNation is excited to sign a memorandum of understanding with GRACC as its first resident performing arts organization,” said Musau Dibinga, Executive Director of OrigiNation. “This partnership with GRACC will provide us with a home where we can showcase the talent of our young dancers while also furthering our mission providing arts education and leadership programs that develop self-esteem, physical fitness, and civic responsibility among youth.”
Based in Jamaica Plain and founded in 1994 by Artistic Director Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga, OrigiNation’s primary focus is serving African American and Latino youth in Boston’s underserved communities of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. OrigiNation’s PDD consists of four companies: Aleye (Boys ages 9-13), IMANI Jr., (girls ages 7-13), Girlz of IMANI (girls ages 14 –16), and NIA Dance Troupe (girls and boys ages 16-18). They have toured nationally and internationally, including to Johannesburg, South Africa; Accra, Ghana; Dakar, Senegal; Kingston, Jamaica; London, England and Trinidad & Tobago.
OrigiNation’s PDD company members are by audition only, and to ensure that the members receive sufficient training, company members are simultaneously enrolled in OrigiNation’s Performing Arts Academy, which offers classes for youth as young as age 3. While the PDD will also make extensive use of GRACC's rehearsal spaces, the majority of PAA classes will remain at OrigiNation’s Jamaica Plain location.
GRACC’s President and CEO Taneshia Nash Laird, said, “We are thrilled to have OrigiNation as our first resident company. OrigiNation’s commitment to youth development and its dedication to raising awareness about and appreciation for the influences of African and African-American culture in contemporary society aligns with our mission and values. We look forward to a long and productive partnership with OrigiNation.”
Laird added that the Roxbury International Film Festival (ROXFILM) has also signed a commitment to GRACC. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, ROXFILM is the largest festival in New England dedicated to celebrating the work of filmmakers creating films celebrating people of color. Despite its name, it has never had a permanent home in Roxbury.
“Roxbury International Film Festival is excited to be able to call GRACC our home. What an incredible opportunity to have a theater directly in the community where we can engage, entertain and support so many creatives in a number of ways”, said Lisa Simmons, Artistic Director of The Roxbury International Film Festival. “To be able to contribute to the renaissance of Nubian Square, is a magical moment for all of us and we are looking forward to being a part of what is to come.”
The GRACC arts center is currently in the pre-development stage and the 35,000-square-foot venue is a $35 million nonprofit social venture designed to contribute to Boston's creative economy. Its development was approved by the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BDPA) as part of the Nubian Square Ascends (NSA) campus project on the Blair Lot in Nubian Square. NSA is a commercial venture consisting of restaurants, life science offices, affordable artist housing, and a 300-car garage. GRACC is a nonprofit endeavor led by Laird. NSA is providing GRACC with land on the NSA campus on which to develop.
As part of its final approval of NSA, BDPA requires that GRACC breaks ground by the fourth quarter of 2024. Laird plans to fund the nonprofit cultural hall with philanthropic dollars and public-private economic incentive dollars such as New Markets Tax Credits.
About the Greater Roxbury Arts & Cultural Center, Inc.
Greater Roxbury Arts & Cultural Center Inc. (GRACC), the 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 2022, is developing a 35,000 square foot visual and performing arts center in the heart of Nubian Square commercial district in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA. Led by its inaugural president and CEO, Taneshia Nash Laird, the organization's mission is to support and showcase innovative performing arts, cinema, visual art, and humanities that honor the cultural roots and diverse talent stemming from the African diaspora. GRACC is committed to promoting social justice and economic development within the Nubian Square neighborhood of Boston. Its vision is to become a premier destination where patrons, partners, and performers can forge meaningful connections through the arts, and to emerge as a leader in celebrating the beauty and richness of Black and Latinx culture in Boston. For more information, visit www.graccboston.org.
About Origination, Incorporated
Founded in 1994 by Artistic Director Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga, OrigiNation, Incorporated is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that produces innovative and dynamic performing arts programs designed to motivate, challenge, and inspire youth to reach their full potential. The organization offers quality dance, theater arts, and African history education for young people aged 2 through 18. Special emphasis is placed on teaching the importance of self-respect, health, nutrition, education, self-esteem, and the extent of African influences on various contemporary art forms. OrigiNation offers a variety of programs to engage and inspire young people through the arts including a Performing Arts Academy, Community Outreach & Education programs,, Spring and Summer Dance Intensives, and an audition-only Professional Dance Division which tours nationally and internationally through its Youth Empowerment Tour. Each year, OrigiNation serves close to 150 young people through its on-site programs and an additional 1,500 youth through off-site programs.
Taneshia Nash Laird, President & CEO, Greater Roxbury Arts & Cultural Center