For the African American Michael W.L. Courtney, a.k.a. Ras Mikey, life is a movement. Starting from the follicle, a heartbeat, up to movements such as the civil rights and Rastafarian causes; all help to form him.
A multi-disciplined artist who defies category – a choreographer, director, educator, singer, songwriter, producer and lecturer. Having a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Arts in Philadelphia, he has collaborated with artists and prestigious companies such as the Pilobolous Dance Theater. He has also worked with household names Philip Hamilton, Ben Harper, Wyclef Jean, Aster Aweke, Sonja Sanchez and the Marley family. Founding his company Fore I’m a Versatile Entertainer (F.I.V.E.) Productions, he brings an alternative artistic form to dance. Transcending all the differences of the performing arts, his motto is that he tries to bring oneness through the movements of different cultures.
Living in Ethiopia helped him to create a strong bond with his spiritual home and his roots in Africa. With the reconnection he blended the dances he knows with Ethiopian cultural traditional dances, like eskista. Before moving back to the US, he taught at Eallaz International Dance School, worked on many different projects and was part of the communal life in Ethiopia. Touring and working in different projects, he sat with Tibebeselassie Tigabu of the Reporter to talk about his journey. Excerpts: