Anja: The Unexpected debuted at the Logan Center in Hyde Park in 2015 as part of the celebration of the Joel Hall Dance Company’s 40th anniversary celebration and featured Hall himself, who had not performed in years. “Anja”—which means “graceful” in Egyptian—included a collaboration with Chicago musicians Jesse Charbonier, Charles “Rick” Heath, and Ray Silkman. “I enjoy collaboration,” Hall noted at the time, “It's so important to artistic growth, because it teaches you not just about movement, but about music. So bringing all three together was, like, wow. Blow my hair back! And I don't even have any."


Featuring Adrian Ruiz as musical director, and with a soundtrack including “Stormy Weather,” “Same Love That Made Me Laugh,” and “Ptah,” the performance was a historical journey based on the Eye of Horus and the Egyptian gods and was based on Hall’s research of Egyptian philosophies and their presence in Black American culture. Artistic Director Jacqueline Sinclair noted in an interview with the Chicago Dance History Project, that Anja was “definitely a statement about where you are in your spirituality at that point.” On that note, Hall replied, “And where I am in my blackness…and where I am in all of our blackness, because we're all black, to me. That is because we're all the same DNA, we're all out of Mother Africa, but…we're seen as races, and races do not really exist.”

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