We envision a world in regards to dance where people from marginalized groups; in particular LGBTTIQQ2SA people, people of colour, varying body types, class backgrounds, and abilities can be who they are, are accepted as equals, have access to dance based education, and see themselves represented in dance performance on stage and in media.
- To share our stories and experiences through dance as well as value and learn from peoples experiences outside of our own in order to combat oppressive power structures and represent the voices of marginalized people with a focus on LGBTTIQQ2SA people, people of colour, people with varying body types, class backgrounds, and abilities,
- Provide accessible and affirming dance education for marginalized groups in particular LGBTTIQQ2SA people, people of colour, people with varying body types, class backgrounds, and abilities by providing workshops and classes with the belief that we can all dance
- Create dance works that are emotive and physically demanding by challenging ourselves beyond our athletic and artistic limits
- Valuing each dancer/choreographer/founder as equal by operating as a collective through consensus
- Honoring all dance forms and techniques that have influenced our hybrid art including classical, traditional, and urban dance.
ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company first started in 2007 when Jelani Ade-Lam entered a dance work into the student choreography showcase at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre; comprised of a cast of 5 men of colour in drag seto urban music. This had never taken place at the school before. Joined with Sze-Yang Ade-Lam, best friend Renald Jean-Pierre, and several other dancers, they took the stage in dresses, make-up, wigs, and heels, and had a phenomenal performance. After this ILL NANA was formed and they continued to perform together for fun and as an outlet of self expression that was not being met in the contemporary/ballet dance scene; in clubs and several Pride Toronto events. In 2009 Kristina Udegbunam joined the group adding an undefinable energy all her own. Continued success and popularity led ILL NANA to closing the Edward Steichen Exhibit at the AGO, and a benefit called To Haiti With Love in early 2010. At these 2 events ILL NANA realized their work was emotionally impacting audiences and decided to pursue their company full time; adding DiverseCity Dance Company to reflect their honoring of the diverse communities in Toronto that they wish to represent.