Today we’d like to introduce you to Errin Weaver.
Hi Errin, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. I began in dance after attending an African dance class with Dance Afrika Dance. It just so happened that the day I attended when they were having company auditions. I was encouraged to try out, and the rest was history. I danced with the junior company and began to take dance a bit more seriously.
At around the age of fifteen or sixteen, I was asked to dance at my church and my mother had just come from a conference where she saw praise dance for the first time. It was a stretch for me, but I found a gospel song by Cece Winans called “Alabaster Box.” Before I knew it, my mother and I founded the first dance ministry at my then-home church.
At sixteen, I ran an intergenerational group of dancers and taught about dance ministry as I learned along the way. The ministry grew and we had over 50 dancers in our church of all ages and abilities; we hosted ministry “bootcamps” where dance ministers from the area in workshops; and offered training in the field, and we presented annual concerts.
I went to college at Tennessee State University and danced on a performing arts scholarship where I first began to get some consistent dance training. Shortly after graduation, I moved to Chicago, IL where I would soon dance with Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago. I was fortunate to perform in the works of and work with Ron Brown, the late Baba Chuck Davis, Abdel Salaam, and a host of others. While in Chicago, I still continued my ministry work in Cleveland, Ohio traveling back and forth over the weekends to work with the dancers which were made up of community and professional artists, as well as those who never danced in their lives.
This new effort was formed under the nonprofit Errin Ministries where we produced classes and productions such as the evening-length work “How I got Over.” This concert is the telling of the trials and tribulations of the Black community through history and the spirituality that was a sustaining force.
During this time, I became interested in natural health and healing as I was going through my own health challenges and witnessing some of my family struggle. I certified in clinical massage therapy and Reiki, did post-graduate work in Naturopathic medicine, and have now gone on to study Ayurvedic medicine and other forms of somatic practice, trauma work, and energy healing. I also received a Master’s in Public Service that concentrated in health administration.
This knowledge was essential in my work with the dancers of “How I Got Over.” During the process, the dancers learn about the history of Blacks in America, which unfortunately is wrought with trauma. Over the course of the time we are in rehearsal, the dancers also are enduring their own trials. It became increasingly important therefore to create a safe space within our process which came to be lovingly known at the “HIGO experience.”
I am now the Executive Artistic Director of Mojuba! Dance Collective, a contemporary African dance company and platform which seeks to promote cultural awareness, collective wellness, and the restoration of community. Through this platform, the Emerging Black Choreographers Incubator was born to support the formation of bold, new work by Black choreographers. The Mojuba! Festival of Dance and Culture was formed to celebrate and explore dances from African derived communities.
I am working towards an MFA in choreography and involved in certification processes for Umfundalai and Dunham techniques. I am the mother of a 3-year-old and 5-year-old, and married my friend Ken Weaver.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has by no means been a smooth road. I struggled quietly for a long time as I traveled back and forth from Nashville and Chicago to Cleveland. It caused financial strain and extreme mental stress and anxiety. Being a leader can be a lonely road at times.
My family also split while I was in college. We were a very visible family in my home church. My mother and I ran the dance ministry and my father ran the operations of the church. I wish I could say I felt supported by the church during our family’s transition.
I have always struggled one way or another with my health, but most recently, I can say that I was on my deathbed. My body systems were shutting down. I could not walk without pain, move my arms, and it hurt to do most anything. For about two years I fought and am still fighting. I am grateful for the spiritual and natural healing tools that got me where I am today.
The birth of my daughter was extremely traumatic. I would not wish what I went through on anyone. The result of it was a mangled body and severe postpartum depression. I stopped dancing for years and am just now returning to the dance floor nearly five years later. Because of my trauma, I was passionate about helping other Black women avoid what I went through. I certified as a Perinatal Support Specialist to help women in all stages of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a community activator, ritualist, performance artist, and cultural storyteller. I am interested in ways to generate intentional environments for connection and transformation. My work consistently reaches for times gone by and brings history forward in an effort to honor tradition, narrative, and culture in the creation of sacred spaces and vibrant communities for restorative healing. My work exists to cultivate culturally curated spaces and experiences which foster resilience as an act of therapeutic and radical self-care. I center marginalized in my work, and I am invested in decolonizing the body and mind through communal experience and performative ritual to facilitate community and acknowledge the past while working to create a future full of hope. ‘
As the Executive Artistic Director or Mojuba! Dance Collective, I support the visions of Black choreographers; share the culture of the African Diaspora; and teach, train, and create for participants of all ages and abilities.
I am most proud of my work that connects people to one another and begins pathways to healing. My artistic process has created lifelong familial ties and friendships, new business ventures, and learning experiences which have left many participants changed or impacted in some way. I get excited about this sort of work.
My dance spaces are intentionally crafted to become spiritual and therapeutic experiences. It is not uncommon for ecstatic encounters to happen in my workshops. I treat dance as a vehicle to discover self and God, and that is where healing begins.
What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
Cleveland, Ohio boasts a vibrant arts community. There is ample support here and so much to see. We have one of the largest theater districts in the country and a host of arts organizations that produce some truly dynamic programming throughout the city.
I also enjoy that you have the big city perks like sports teams and festivals, but the smaller city vibes with the fantastic playground and park systems and less crowded areas and streets.
The weather is what I like least about the city. Lake effect snow is the worst.
- Website: www.mojubadance.com
- Instagram: Mojuba Dance
- Facebook: Mojuba Dance Collective
- Youtube: Mojuba Dance Collective