THE CHOCOLATE HEADS MOVEMENT BAND ORIGINAL CONCEPT was an experiment to bring dancers together from different dance traditions and collaboratively create a multi-genre performance around a unifying theme. It was imagined and initially formed in 2009 by Aleta Hayes.  We have worked with contemporary dancers and belly dancers, hip hop and flamenco dancers, ballet and break dancers, soccer players and martial artists.

 
Laura Sophia Romero, Photo: Roseann Cima

Laura Sophia Romero, Photo: Roseann Cima

THE NAME "CHOCOLATE HEADS" was a gift from one of Aleta's closest friend's preschoolers. Inspired by their love of chocolate, it was the name of their band, but they were no longer using it. We cherish the generosity of that gift, knowing that great ideas can come from anywhere and welcome the questions that the name provokes.  It challenges assumptions about its meaning and speaks to inventing new futures fueled by the supreme diversity which exists in the group.

We called it a movement driven band, rather than a dance company in order to forward a more contemporary dialogic relationship with the audience, nod to contemporary culture's connection to vernacular music and social dance, as well as model the interdependent relationship between the band members as unique but equal contributors.

After the 1960’s, all movement became fodder for contemporary dance-- everyday movement, people going about their work, playing sports, vernacular dance, social dances, folk forms, dance styles based in cultural traditions—all were fair game and all were studied and integrated into the formal dance world. What makes Chocolate Heads unusual is that there is no hierarchy of dance traditions. Concert dance does not trump social dance. Hip hop is not more cool than Flamenco.

 

CHOCOLATE HEADS IS ABOUT making the most of who shows up wanting to be involved. The band evolves with each year and with each new set of artists seeking to mash-up dance forms, musics, art, film and technology. Remix is the compositional strategy we use to leverage all that is brought to the table.  We take our theme and collaboratively construct a performance event, approaching it from diverse academic, artistic, cultural, personal and theoretical spaces to set our concept into motion.  We identify, nurture and empower each performer’s unique expression, which then gets filtered and concentrated as the ’remixed’ emerging work, through a constantly evolving conceptual lens. Using this methodology, we discover one another and the piece at the same time.

We have created a community of like-minded artists, both Stanford undergraduates and graduate students. The diversity in age, artistic forms, intellectual pursuits and development, ethnicity and nationality make our project a great place to hang out, sweat, agree to disagree, reach for the stars, create a better planet.  Chocolate Heads has become a place where people from diverse backgrounds can collaboratively explore who they are as artists and discover new ways in which to express their passions.

Rachel Mewes, Hieu Nguyen, Luke Yancy Jr, Kareem Alston, Photo: Yuto Watanabe

Rachel Mewes, Hieu Nguyen, Luke Yancy Jr, Kareem Alston, Photo: Yuto Watanabe

As dancers and performance creators we are not just interested in how we move, but what moves people.  Connecting our dancing self with the greater movement of people in the world is still one of the most interesting ideas out there.


Documentary on the 2011-2012 performance, Red Shift.  Through interviews with band members, it gives a sense of what Chocolate Heads is all about.