In 1984 Michael Friend and his sister Khandi started performing as the Soul In Motion Players. The debut performance was at Michael’s alma mater, Howard University during Black History Month. Original members included HU Fine Arts Department Grads Cheryl Butler Poole, Gregory H. Poole, Gisele Jackson, & Wanda Whiteside. The troupe began touring to other colleges and universities on the East Coast.
SIMPINC was performing famous works from highly acclaimed writers including the Last Poets, Maya Angelou, & James Baldwin.
In 1989 Michael resigned from his government job to pursue the SIMPINC dream. Soul In Motion became a full-time touring company with its busy season occurring during Black History Month. The group would hit the road for week-long stints. While attending a NACA convention in October 1989, Michael began writing his first play, WE ARE AFRICA. This script was inspired by Tony Browder’s book, From the Browder Files. Later that Fall, the script was completed, the roles were cast, and the group hit the road. Soul In Motion went on to tour WE ARE AFRICA for 13 seasons. During this time-frame, the group grew from just 4 company members to a full ensemble including drummers and dancers. Michael’s longtime friend, Keith Stephens joined the tour as technical director. Keith’s role continues to provide a key element to Soul In Motion’s success.
During the late 90’s Michael was introduced to choreographer/dancer Pam Lassiter Rhone. Pam began performing with Soul In Motion during the final few years of the WE ARE AFRICA era. Michael and Pam started collaborating on the idea of the Soul In Motion African Dancers and Drummers. This concept would slightly redefine Soul In Motion as the troupe approached the new millennium. The original members included drummer Jumbe Gilliam and dancer Phyllis Lewis.
Accepting the role of Associate Director, Pam would soon grow the group of dancers to six members while Michael built the drum battery. In a relatively short period of time Soul In Motion African Dancers and Drummers has become an energetic 11-member company, performing at some of the premier dance events in the Washington, DC area including the ever popular Dance Africa hosted by the Dance Place.
Soul In Motion’s schedule continues to highlight a busy Black History Month season and a full calendar of annual events including festivals, weddings, and a wide variety of corporate events.