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Grown Women Dance Collective – 15th Annivers...

Grown Women Dance Collective – 15th Anniversary Juneteenth Dance Concert

A unique and very personal perspective on Juneteenth and the Grown Women Dance Collective from BB Educator Tonya Amos…

Dance Collective Juneteenth Concert

I come from a long line of troublemakers. As a little girl, I sat on my daddy’s lap and he told me stories of my family’s liberation. My great-grandmother, who was enslaved, passed our oral traditions down through my dad. The stories were wondrous: We burnt down (at least) three plantations, killed slave masters, and lived free in the piney woods of Texas. After living free for a few years, we’d emerge from the woods, blend in with the enslaved population, then repeat the whole process. The pride that I feel hearing my dad tell this story, and now passing it onward to his grandchildren, makes me swell with pride and clench my best Black Power Fist.

On June 19, 1865, my family that had fought at every instant for our self-determination, safety, togetherness, community and very survival was now deemed free. The story of Juneteenth and our active resistance to slavery is something that is told with full animation at family gatherings.

I started GWDC with a group of friends in 2009 to honor our cultural heroes and teach Black history. Within a few years, we had lost Ossie Davis, Rosa Parks, Nina Simone, Coretta Scott King, and Gregory Hines. Some of these incredible cultural icons left with the fanfare that they deserved, while others passed on quietly without the world celebrating them in the way that they deserved. We decided that these great heroes that held up a beautiful mirror for ourselves, that had broken down barriers, that moved us forward as a community, and impacted the very fabric of U.S. and world cultures needed to be honored.

In 2009, most of the Bay Area had lost our Juneteenth celebrations. Municipalities were not granting permits citing “insurance” reasons, effectively banning Black families from coming together publicly to celebrate our heritage on our own terms. Thus “Fallen Heroes, Rising Stars: A Juneteenth Celebration Through Dance” was born. Retired dancers in our then 40’s and now 50’s (one of us just hit 60) come together from all over the country to make magic. We’re former dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Cleo Parker Robinson, etc… and we have about 45 Broadway shows among us. We honor the genius of artists such as James Brown, Little Richard, Tina Turner, Harry Belafonte, DMX, Aretha Franklin, and Civil Rights icons. This celebration of the arts and history uplifts, inspires, and creates beautiful cross-cultural, intergenerational bridges. And our environments are full of joy! Folks rock in their seats, kids dance in front of their chairs, folks “yell at the screen”, and perfect strangers connect with excitement, introspection and joy.

Grown Women Dance Collective breaks stereotypes of what a dancer is. We’re “GROWN” and we’re moms, professors, business owners, Pilates teachers, and activists. When we’re not performing, our days are full of teaching free community impact classes. This year’s Juneteenth activities include our 15th anniversary Juneteenth dance concert, a series of intergenerational classes and workshops including: dance classes with former company members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater & Dance Theatre of Harlem, Mental Health & Radical Acceptance (but not giving in!) + Ask a Psychiatrist with Dr. Ardis Martin, MD., Fall Prevention & Pain Reduction for Seniors, Gentle Stretch & Breathing + Harp with Destiny Muhammad, and Brown Shoes & Stepping into Our Power: Pointe Shoe Pancake & Sewing Class. We also have a community massage therapy day, sound healing, and healthy cooking classes for children. Thanks to our amazing sponsors, including Balanced Body, all 2024 Juneteenth programming is free.

Our “Grown” dancers take our place in the lineage of Black Concert Dance seriously. We realize that we are standing on our ancestors’ shoulders and it’s now our responsibility to pass our artistic and cultural knowledge onto the next generations. We are proud to use art to shift the narrative on societal issues and uplift resistance, resilience, self-empowerment, and joy. Grown Women Dance Collective is working hard to help create a world where we can all be seen, heard, dance, flourish and thrive.

15th Anniversary “Fallen Heroes, Rising Stars: A Juneteenth Celebration Through Dance”

Saturday, June 22nd at 3pm

9th St. between Broadway & Washington

Oakland, CA

Also Live Streamed at www.GrownWomenDance.org

  • Juneteenth weekend classes & workshops
  • Additional classes all summer

Visit GrownWomenDance.org for a full activity schedule. All 2024 activities are free.

A unique and very personal perspective on Juneteenth and the Grown Women Dance Collective from BB Educator Tonya Amos…


Tonya Marie Amos received a BA in Anthropology from U.C. Berkeley, trained for 4 years on scholarship at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and danced professionally for 15 years in New York. Introduced to Pilates over forty years ago as a young, injured dancer, she received her Comprehensive Pilates training in 2004 with Nora St. John and Naomi Leiserson. She has since furthered her skills studying with 30+ Master Teachers. Owner of award-winning Aspire Pilates Center and Artistic Director of Grown Women Dance Collective, Tonya uniquely combines arts and wellness for social justice. Her stunning annual Juneteenth dance concert teaches and celebrates Black history. She is currently developing the Joyful Movement Pilates Life Skills Teacher Training program, which will help increase resilience, resistance, self-empowerment, and joy in Black communities. She brings inspiring and healing experiences to communities that traditionally don't have access and is proud to help build cross-cultural and intergenerational bridges with her work. To learn more about the Grown Women Dance Collective or the Joyful Movement Pilates Life Skills program, visit www.GrownWomenDance.org Follow on Instagram: @GrownWomenDanceCollective

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