Ashani Dances - Artistic director, resident choreographer & founder
Major Choreographic Commissions
- The Ailey School
- Johns Hopkins University – Peabody Conservatory
- Boston Conservatory
- The Jamaica School of Dance
- Juilliard Dance Ensemble
- University of the West Indies – Cave Hill, Barbados
- University of Florida
- Henderson State University
- American College Dance Festival
- Cornish College of the Arts
- Webster University
Andrew Sargus Klein of Bmoreart.com writes,
“’Love Me, Now Leave Me Alone’ is an important reminder that dance is a powerfully responsive tool, one that has the power to delve deeply, and then go beyond, visual work like Hopper’s ... there were beautiful, breathtaking glimpses of intimacy and melancholy, love and despair: all Hopper-esque, but also universal and evergreen.”
Christina Lindenmuth of DC Dance Journalism Project writes,
"The conclusion will inevitably be subjective, reflective of individual pains and experiences, and can turn an evening of dark beauty with Ashani Dances into something totally personal and memorable ... I am excited to experience more from Ashani Dances and see what happens next as we welcome them to the Baltimore community."
Alice Kaderlan of The Seattle Times writes,
Ashani Dances Is on the Rise “... Harrison, with three very different works. Together, they showcased an artist of diverse talents with sophisticated musical tastes and an understanding of how to use a bare stage to full effect. Appearing at the Broadway Performance Hall, Harrison relied on lighting, rather than expensive sets, to enhance the mood and energy of his ballets. The costumes were simple but effective ...”
Gabrielle Nomura of Seattle Dances writes,
The result is a company [Ashani Dances] on par with Seattle’s elite in contemporary dance: Spectrum Dance Theater and Whim W’him, Harrison’s international experience and classical background presents a refreshing niche in Seattle’s contemporary dance market; his technical, virtuosic dancers are appealing to both dance aficionados, as well as the general public.
Ciara McCormack of Seattle Dances writes:
Harrison’s “The Leaves Have Fallen”...lifts and transitions were seamless, a constant connection between the dancers carrying them from one set to the next...the structure of the piece rose to the surface, highlighting the identities of the characters and reflecting the development of their dialogue. The work’s vocabulary and the magnetic ebb and flow of the dancers’ spatial relationship implied an intimate relationship, which can easily be construed as a depiction of romantic struggle and loss. Harrison stressed in the talk that his mentorship of a younger dancer and the experience of sending him off to a new opportunity inspired the piece. At its heart, “Leaves” is a tough conversation between two people who love and respect each other, who rely on each other, yet have separate paths to follow."
BOOST Dance Festival: Week 2
Ciara McCormack of Seattle Dances writes:
Iyun Ashani Harrison presented “The Leaves Have Fallen,” a stark yet soft breakdown of the end of a relationship. Dressed in silver shorts and unbuttoned shirts, Harrison and Sam Picart bolstered their impressive technique with deeply emotional body language. Their partnering treated the audience to impressive man-on-man lifts and emphasized both love and heartbreak in the relationship."
Gabrielle Nomura of Seattle Dances Blog writes:
Harrison did a remarkable job showcasing the unique talents of his dancers, and telling a story with tenderness and intrigue."
Dean Speer of Critical Dance Forum writes:
Not only did Harrison show off what the dancers can do, the dancers showed off his truly excellent dances."
Charlotte Hart of Seattle Dances Blog writes:
Harrison's choreography shined in the second movement. The use of stillness and slow progression as Ariana Bird, Christina Kennedy, and Thomas O'Neal drifted across the floor perfectly matched the atmospheric music of local composer William Hayes."
Michael Upchurch of the Seattle Times writes:
Last weekend I described Ashani Dances as a promising new local dance company." Scratch that. This troupe is exceptionally accomplished, and their showcase of three new works by artistic director Iyun Ashani Harrison is a knockout. Most of the dancers have an affiliation with Cornish College of the Arts where Harrison teaches (some are graduates, some still students). All have strong, agile ballet skills which are given an intoxicating Afro-Caribbean twist in "Artifact," a joyous, sassy, intricate homage to what Harrison calls "the beautiful traditional dances of my childhood in Jamaica.” Local composer-percussionist Ben Morrow penned the dance-propulsive score. Sean Rosado and Sam Picart are reasons alone to catch this while you can.
'Men in Dance': Talent from Seattle and beyond
By Michael Upchurch of the Seattle Times.
"Iyun Harrison weighed in with the tightest, most impressive piece I've seen by him yet, "Tres Reyes," for three male dancers. Ohlberg, Timothy Lynch and Harrison were well up to the challenge of the piece, which blended balletic virtuosity with flavors more dervish-like and feral.
Ashani Dances Shows Range in Debut
Written by Sandra Kurtz
"Harrison, who joined the faculty at Cornish College last year, has a substantial performance resume, and though he wasn’t dancing with the company one can see his pedigree in the material he’s crafted for his young performers. Time spent with Ballet Hispanico, Dance Theater of Harlem, and Ailey II, alongside a Julliard education, have given him great facility with the current hybrid combinations of ballet and contemporary dance. But the works that he’s made with this raw material cover a wider range of styles and genres."
"Neo-Funk Ballet, the James Brown-inflected closer, serves Harrison and the company well, giving the performers a showcase for their freshly-minted virtuosity. The women’s bouncy party dresses mirror their crisp precision, while Brown’s powerful vocal style carves a space for the men to shine. It does what a closing work is supposed to do—gives the audience a clear and vivid image of the dancers and the ensemble to take home from the theater, like a kinetic parting gift. And as Brown sings it, “I Feel Good.”
BOOST Weekend 2: Be a Part of the Fury? Yes, please.
Written by Kaitlin McCarthy
"The show opened with a repeat performance of Iyun Harrison's Union. The movement had strong classical roots, while the large group formations and intense harpsichord music, by Hendryk Gorecki, evoked a sense of dramatic medieval court dances. Essential to the work were the satin circle skirts (costumes by Nina Reed), which were incorporated beautifully throughout, whether held up in a formal procession or left to fly out in a wild spin. Harrison also used the skirts thematically when a male dancer stripped a female dancer of hers, and she was left vulnerable in only shorts. A manipulative duet ensued between the two playing on themes of gender and power. Eventually the tide turns, culminating in the removal of the male dancer's skirt. If Harrison continues to produce technical and intelligent modern dance he will certainly be a welcome addition to the Seattle dance scene."
Seattle Dances, 2012 BOOST dance festival
Written by Steve Ha
"It’s not as though the program is without variety—Iyun Ashani Harrison’s jewel-toned “Union” (2010) incorporated influences from Martha Graham, trading earthier aesthetics for swirling oily satins. The movement of the costumes harmonized with the choreography on the dancers, producing vibrant pictures while depicting shades of human experiences. Strong in both concept and execution, Union served as a brilliant opening for the show."
- The Ailey School, NY, NY (2004-present)
- Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore, MD (2017-2019)
- Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle, WA (2011-2015)
- Goucher College, Baltimore, MD (2015-2019)
- Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA (2010-2015)
- Webster University, St. Louis, MO (2008-2010)
- Seattle Dance Project (2011-2014)
- Ballet Hispanico of New York (2005-2009)
- Dance Theatre of Harlem (2001-2005)
- Ailey II (1999-2001)