The Ajile Dancers (1971)
The word Ajile is Yoruba which means “a gift to our town”.
Terrie Axam, founder, director and instructor, conceived the idea of the Ajile group in 1971 while attending Princeton University and while working at the Princeton Youth Center as the dance instructor. The group was a part of a theatre group, The Hansberry Arts Workshop.
The group has performed throughout New Jersey, on college campuses, in state prisons and numerous community playhouses and affairs. The dancers present to their audience a unique repertoire of ethnic, modern, jazz and spiritual dances. The ethnic dance is a very outstanding feature of the group. The technique and form is similar to African dance. It is a combination of African rhythms and movements along with modern, jazz and interpretive dance movements. The dance themes of Ajile works are diversified and universal with Afro-American emphasis.
Ajile is a creative movement dance group. In every performance, the group confirms its ability to choreograph and perform with creative and spiritual beauty. The work of Ajile is innovative and lends itself to new directions in the performing world of dance. Part of the distinctiveness is the group’s creative development; their improvisational freedom and the earthiness of compulsive rhythms compounded with technical ability. This claim for new directions is enhanced by another factor, the director’s views on art in our society. The words of Mao-Tse-Tung are indicative of her views:
… the unity of politics and art
the unity of content and form,
the unity of revolutionary political content
and the highest possible perfection of artistic form.
Thus, the ideology of the Ajile group is based upon the philosophy of art being a political, social and educational tool. The Ajile dance works are devoted to art which contributes towards change for the enrichment of our society.
WELCOME to “MOJA” The Future of Dance Now. I invite you to enjoy this evening. More importantly, I invite you to experience this evening. My technique MOJA has involved a long process of research, practical work, experimentation , and finally tonight.
When Total Dance Company performed at Centennial Park for Atlanta’s 150th Anniversary Celebration, the crowd exploded. We touched them and they touched us. I knew then that it was time to premiere the MOJA technique.
So, here we are, our first concert featuring MOJA. There are 22 wonderful dancers, as well as musicians and vocalists performing with me tonight. Some of them are choreographers that have also embraced MOJA and now demonstrate the MOJA influence in their work.
MOJA blends West African, Jazz and Modern, with strong influences of Horton and Dunham Techniques. It is unique technique that provides spiritual upliftment. It evokes the connecting synergy between mind, body and spirit, and between artist and audience. MOJA connects, MOJA rejuvenates, MOJA transforms, MOJA.. THE FUTURE OF DANCE..NOW
In 1998 the letter “h” was added to the name “MOJA” after Terrie Ajile Axam’s culture exchange work in Kingston, Jamaica at Edna Manley College where she served as guest tutor. ” JAH”means creator. Ajile embraced her technique as one with the creator.