Umoja Dance Company is a New Jersey based, multi-cultural company of dancers established in 1993 by Karen L. Love as a vehicle to educate, preserve and present as a communal and spiritual expression of life. Umoja the Kiswahili word for "Unity" creates a nurturing environment that encourages cross-cultural exchange and celebrates the versatility of the human spirit. Through ongoing research, the company continues to adapt aspects of African culture, aesthetics and values that are paramount to the work. Umoja's fusion of contemporary modern and West African dance reflects the evolution of movement and spirit.
Umoja encourages innovative approaches to movement and promotes collaboration between all artists and cultures. In an effort to expand the boundaries of dance we offer evening length concerts, classes, residencies, open workshops, interactive programs with audience participation, master classes, lecture demonstrations and outdoor performances. Its extensive education outreach program elicits open dialogue between children, artists and audiences to celebrate the differences of our diverse backgrounds.
UMOJA has been recognized as one of New Jersey’s premier dance companies. Umoja is the host company for WOFABE African Dance and Drum Festival. The only African dance & drum festival in state of New Jersey. From 1993-1998 Umoja self-produced concerts at Montclair State University.
UMOJA was selected to perform at Aaron Davis Hall as a part of the New Vision/New Voices Choreography Showcase for People of Color, curated by Gus Solomons, Jr. The company was presented for two consecutive years by The New Jersey Performing Arts Center for its Kwanzaa Celebration. February 2001, Love had the honor of being commissioned by two outstanding New Jersey organizations: The Westfield Symphony Orchestra and the NJ Chamber Music Society. Westfield’s conductor David Wroe selected Love to choreography a new piece to Darius Milhaud’s “Le Creation du Monde.” The piece was an eclectic blend of West African and modern dance that premiered at the Union County Arts Center in Rahway, NJ. The NJ Chamber Music Society commissioned Love’s choreography for two West African tales, Anansi the Spider and the Rabbit at the Water Hole. She was joined by Linda Goss, Storyteller and Paul Arslanian composer.
Umoja performed at the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference, held at Duke University and was presented by Montclair State University as part of The Great Events Performance Series. UMOJA appeared on NBC Today in celebration of Black History month, Lincoln Center Out of Door festival, Newark Symphony Hall, SOPAC, NJPAC, Mary Burch Theatre, Luna Stage Company, Rutgers University, Union County College, Centenary College, Willam Paterson University, Montclair High School, Riker Hill Art Park, Montclair Women's Club, The Baird Community Center, The 100 Black Men New Years' Eve Celebration, The Montclair Arts Awards Ceremony, Montclair State University's African-American Family Festival, and the Montclair African-American Heritage Day Parade.
The company has performed in the following choreography showcases in New York: Dance Theater Workshop FRESHTRACKS, Symphony Space Dance Sampler, Mulberry Street Theatre: Newsteps, St. Mark’s Danspace: Food For Thought, P.S. 122: New Stuff, Fieldday at The Ubu Repertory Theatre and Joyce Soho as well as the New Generation in Dance/Dance in Education Fund Concert held at SUNY Purchase.
As a part of UMOJA’S quest for community outreach the company performed and presented workshops for The Vivian Gaunt Scholarship Fund, Newark EMA HIV Health Services Planning Council Convention, The Links, Inc. Conference for Youths, Community Day Nursery, Capezio Dance Foundation, Merck & Co, Hazel Ave School, Mondelez International, Clifton Library, Montclair Public Library, Newark Museum, and Ethicon Corporation.