HAMPTON, Va. — The 1619 Project is a world-renowned, in-depth piece that explores the history of enslaved Africans who were brought to Virginia in the year 1619.
Over the course of time, African Americans have helped shape and mold elements of democracy, law, music and culture. Now, more than 400 years later, students at HBCU college Hampton University are honoring their ancestors through dance.
The Hampton University Terpsichorean Dance Company was founded by Charles H. Williams in 1934.
Formerly known as the "Hampton Institute Creative Dance Troupe," the dance company is one of the longest-running organizations on the university's campus.
Terpsichorean choreographer Crystal Neal prepares dance pieces centered around African spiritual movements. The company is known for performing modern-day pieces using an array of dance styles.
Crystal said "The 1619 Project" production team asked her to choreograph routines and provide dancers to be featured in the docuseries.
"They honestly, as the kids say, 'slid into our DMs.' Like, they actually sent us a message through Instagram saying that they were looking at some choreographers and they wanted three to five dancers to be a part of this project," said Neal.
The following dancers were selected for the routine featured in the docuseries: Jadyn Creech, a graduating senior majoring in cellular & molecular biology; Joslyn Smith, a senior majoring in health sciences; and Angelica Coleman, a graduating senior majoring in kinesiology.
Creech said the experience was a full-circle moment for her as president of the dance company and as a performer.
"Being able to embody that vision of the enslaved people coming to Virginia for the first time, I feel like that was a moment I will never forget," said Creech.
The six-part docuseries can be streamed exclusively on Hulu. The Terpsichorean dancers can be seen in the first episode of the series.
To learn more about the Hampton University Terpsichorean Dance Company and their upcoming performances, follow them on social media. The company's Instagram is @hampton_terps and their Facebook is Terpsichorean Dance Company.