11/4/16 O&A NYC DANCE: Alex Smith Jr. Honored At Bessies

By Walter Rutledge

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In life there are no detours, it is always the course appointed. Despite all of our plans and dreams we can count on the universe to add some unexpected twists and turns. Thelma Hill Preforming Arts Center’s Executive Chairman Alex Smith Jr. knows this all to well. In 1995 Smith become the guiding force of the organization by proxy, now twenty-one years later he was honored with a Service to the Field Award at the 29th New York Dance and Performance Awards- The Bessies. Continue reading

6/27/16 O&A NYC DANCE: Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center’s Final Performance Tuesday June 28

By Walter Rutledge

"Bewildered", Adryan Moorefield, Courtney Robinson, Janine Beckles, PHILADANCO, Rosita Adamo, Tommie-Waheed Evans, Victor Lewis Jr.

The 40th Anniversary season of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center will conclude on Tuesday June 28 with a special by Philadanco and Marshall Swiney. Continue reading

6/22/16 O&A NYC REVIEW DANCE: Thelma Hill 40th Anniversary Season Continues

By Walter Rutledge

IMG_0050The Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center’s 40th Anniversary season at the Actor Fund Center, 160 Schermerhorn Street, is in high gear. The third evening presented new, emerging and mid-level choreographers with works ranging from ballet to hip-hop. The performance expressed the founding credo of the organization by presenting the diverse and innovative choreography of artists of color.

The evening opened with a series of solo works. Francesca Harper’s Deconstructing Flack consisted of two solo works echoing the theme of love and loss. Both works, set to the music of Roberta Flack, took the audience from prologue to epilogue.

Erika Lisaku danced the opening solo with a poignant despair. Harper captured the haunting quality of Flack’s First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. In the second solo dancer Amanda Sachs conveyed the acceptance of her situation. More reflective and introspective Ballad of the Sad Young Men had a feeling of resolve.

Toro (pool in a river) by Takeshi Ohashi moved with an elegant quiet control. Danced by Ohashi, with live trumpet accompaniment by Justin Osouna Chance, the impressive movement quality combined tight, isolated movement with sweeping floor work. The works fluidity and grounded quality evoked both the purposeful nature Tai Chi and the explosive excitement of break dance.

The last solo, William Isaac’s charming No Banana Skirt, offered an upbeat and fun variation. Amanda Smith danced the lively and energetic pointe piece with technical proficiency and an effervescent deportment. Both the performance and choreography encapsulated the fun spirit of the Josephine Baker’s rendition of Bye Bye Blackbird.

Purelements: An Evolution in Dance closed the first act with The Call by Men Ca. Danced by the junior company the work effectively blended West African and modern dance. The level of professionalism and commitment endeared this group of young performers to the audience, and became one of the most satisfying aspects of the performance.

The Hip-Hop dance crew Special Ops five-man dance crew consisting of Ptah, Floats, Twist, Press, Rachett and Ej wowed the audience. The crew exemplified the evolution of the urban art form synonymous with 80’s street culture to 21st century inner city storytelling through a codified movement style. Using Flexing (isolated movement and contortions, Gliding (floating across the floor) and Shotta Dance (derived from Reggae dancehall) Special Ops shared a gritty reality ripped from today’s headlines.

Nijawwon Matthew’s XY Dance Project transported us from rap to Bach with his ensemble dance Work Forty. The work blended modern, ballet, gymnastics and “Matthews” to create a visual and kinesthetic excitement. Costumed in white bras, and briefs the dancers donned olive-green ski mask type headgear by Project Runaway’s Mondo Guerra, which
 reminiscence Robert Rauschenberg work in Paul Taylor’s Three Epitaphs. Matthew continues to find his own voice, and we commend and encourage him to keep exploring.

Earl Mosley’s Diversity of Dance closed with Wild and Free! (Draft 5). The jazz infused modern dance ensemble work featured a cast of 23 dancers, and quickly evolved into a witty high-energy pure dance crescendo. Mosley’s ability to bring out the best in every member of the ensemble has become one of his true strengths.

Alexander Diaz distinguished himself with abandoned risk taking and a focused attack, which made it hard not to watch him. The duet between Christine Caimares and Riccardo Bataglia had a strong yet sensual combativeness attack that (thankfully) avoided violence.

The 40th Anniversary Season continues tonight with a new line up diverse choreographers. The roster includes Jamal Story, Jean Emile, HSA Dance Ensemble, Charles Moore Dance Theater, Ronald K. Alexander, Abdiel Jacobsen and Bones The Machine. The evening will open with a special tribute to Loretta Abbott presented by Tony and Emmy Award winner George Faison.

For more information and tickets visit www.thelmahill.com tickets can also be purchased at the box office 30 minutes prior to the performance.

6/17/16 O&A NYC- A CELEBRATION OF LIFE: Loretta Abbott

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Loretta Abbott, dancer, actress, singer and choreographer passed away on Sunday June 5, 2016. A natural performer Abbott had two passions: her love for dance that spanned over 70 years, and her allegiance to the Harlem community where she lived her entire life. Continue reading

6/10/16 O&A NYC DANCE: Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center Announce 2016 Artist Roster

Shall We Dance

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The Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center (THPAC) announced the roster of artists they will present for their 40th Anniversary season June 19 through 22 and June 28 at the Actors Fund Center, 160 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn based THPAC has presented companies and choreographers of color for 40 consecutive years making it the oldest continuous presenting organization in the country. The list of artists reaches back to the past with established artists while remaining true to its credo offering performance opportunity to the new and emerging.

“When you put it in prospective back in 1976 there were very few presenters programming artists of color,” states THPAC Executive Chairman Alex Smith Jr. “Dance Theatre of Harlem had made their premiere only five years earlier in 1971, The Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (Ailey II) was two years old, and the George Faison Universal Dance Experience was one of the hottest emerging companies in town. We presented the controversial Eleo Pomare and female powerhouse Dianne McIntyre when mainstream presenters were looking elsewhere. We have planned an exciting season for 2016, look for some surprise appearances from our dance family.”

Over the last forty years THPAC has made it a mission to seek out the new and cutting edge. The organization has helped introduce many of today dance notables including Complexions, Ronald K. Brown Evidence, Kyle Abraham, Camille A. Brown and Sidra Bell. This year promises to be more than a retrospective; it remains a referendum on dance programming for artists of color.

 The 2016 40th Anniversary Season:

Sunday June 19
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Darrel Grand Moultrie                                                                                                                                                                               George Faison
Germaul Barnes
Gierre Godley
Johnnie Mercer
Philadanco
Rodger C. Jeffery
Tiffany Rea-Fisher

Monday June 20
Alpha Omega
Andre’ Zachery
Bloodline Dance Theater
Creative Outlet
DaVon Doane
Harambee
Judah International Dance Theatre
Patricia Carby
Rod Rodgers Dance Company
Sidra Bell

Tuesday June 21
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Charles Moore Dance Theater
Earl Mosley
Francesca Harper
Nehemiah Spencer
Nijawwon Matthews
Special Ops
Takeshi Ohashi
William Isaac

Wednesday June 22
Abdiel Jacobsen
Bones The Machine
HSA Dance Ensemble
Jamal Story
Jean Emile
Orlando Hunter
Ronald K. Alexander
Walter Rutledge

Tuesday June 28
Marshall Swiney with Beauty For Ashes Contemporary School of Dance

Tickets are on sale for the 2016 Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center 40th Anniversary season. The tickets are $20/$15 (students and seniors) due to the exciting roster and limited seating advanced ticket sales is advised. Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.thelmahill.com. or in the lobby 30 minutes prior to the performance.

 

6/8/16 O&A NYC DANCE: Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center Dedicates 40th Anniversary Season To Loretta Abbott

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The Thelma Hill Performing Art Center (THPAC) will dedicate their 40th Anniversary season to dancer icon and longtime THPAC supporter Loretta Abbott. The 4 day season, which runs from June 19 through June 22 at the Actor Fund Center 160 Schermerhorn Strret in downtown Brooklyn, will showcase 40 choreographers, and dance companies during the milestone 40th season. The artists presented range from early THPAC contributors including such dance luminaries as Emmy and Tony Award winner George Faison, Philadanco, Charles Moore Dance Theatre, and Rod Rodgers Dance Company. Mid-career choreographers Marshall Swiney, Ronald K Alexander, Germaul Barnes and Rodger C. Jeffery; and emerging artists Nijawwon Matthews, DaVon Doane, and Sidra Bell. Continue reading

9/2/15 O&A NYC Magazine: Brother And Sister Make Dreams A Reality

By Walter Rutledge

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The Frank Sinatra classic New York New York declares “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”. For a brother and sister their dreams of dancing on stage at the legendary Apollo Theater are about to come true. Jelani and Arnese Britton (who reside in the Bronx) will get a chance to strut their stuff tonight at Amateur Night At The Apollo.

Jelani (age 24) and Arnese (15) have a special big brother little sister bond. The self-trained duo rehearse their routine in Jelani’s living room. His apartment provides them unlimited rehearsal hours, but lacks the space and mirrors that would help hone the dance.

The Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center Genex Program provided Jelani and Arnese studio time and an advisor for professional feedback. “Its been our mission for almost 40 years to assist new and emerging dancers, choreographers and dance companies”, says Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center Executive Chairman Alex Smith Jr. “Our Genex Program is designed to offer young artists one-on-one assistance and technical support.”

You could see the excitement on the dancer’s faces as they began rehearsing at DANY Studios on 38th Street in Manhattan. “This was our first time ever working in a real studio”, Jelani explained. “We were able to get a feel for dancing in a big space with mirrors. It is something I’ll never forget.”

Jelani, the choreographer, has wanted to one day dance on the Apollo stage for as long as he can remember. His sister Arnese dances at church and at school, but this is the first time on a public stage. “I can’t wait to dance at the Apollo, I’m a little nervous; but I know it’s a once in a lifetime experience and I want to have fun”, says Arnese.

Photo of Ella Fitzgerald

The Apollo amateur night is the oldest continuous talent shows in the world. Ella Fitzgerald won the first Amateur Night in 1934, and received a prize of $25 and work for one week. The list of other Amateur Night winners include Billie Holiday, the Isley Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, and the Jackson 5.

The selection process for the The 81-year-old Amateur Night hasn’t changed, participants from all disciplines audition for chance to perform. Amateur Night At The Apollo remains an incubator for talent, and is also one of New York City’s most acclaimed live performances. The world-renowned weekly performances attract an international audience, who can either make or break a performer.

Jelani and Arnese hope to go to the next round and eventually win the Amateur Night competition. They are all ready winners for having the courage to turn their dreams into reality. Whatever the outcome they are performing tonight on the stage “Where stars are born and legends are made.”

For tickets for Amateur Night At The Apollo at $21, $27, $33 and are available in person at the Apollo Theater Box Office, online at Ticketmaster.com, and by calling Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000, for Groups Call (212) 531-5355.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2/24/15 O&A Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center Begins Spring 2015 Season (revised)

By Walter Rutledge 

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Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center (THPAC) begins their 2015 performance /presenting season with its on-the-edge PEEKS-Works in progress choreographers showcase February 26, 7:30pm at The Actors Fund Arts Center, 160 Schermerhorn Street in downtown Brooklyn. This on-going, year-round program presents works-in-progress by emerging New York City-based choreographers and dance companies, with a special emphasis on artists of color, women and the LGBT community. The performance is free to the public; of course donations at the door are always welcomed. Continue reading

2/24/15 O&A Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center Begin Spring 2015 Season

By Walter Rutledge 

Feb-26-promo

Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center (THPAC) begins their 2015 performance /presenting season with its on-the-edge PEEKS-Works in progress choreographers showcase February 26, 7:30pm at The Actors Fund Arts Center, 160 Schermerhorn Street in downtown Brooklyn. This on-going, year-round program presents works-in-progress by emerging New York City-based choreographers and dance companies, with a special emphasis on artists of color, women and the LGBT community. The performance is free to the public; of course donations at the door are always welcomed. Continue reading

11/21/14 O&A Shall We Dance Friday: Review- Complexions Contemporary Ballet Gala

By Walter Rutledge

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Complexions Contemporary Ballet held their 20th anniversary gala performance Thursday, November 20 at the Joyce Theater. I believe galas should not be held under the same critical scrutiny as a regular season performance; these events have a different focus. Galas acknowledge company milestones such as dancers transitioning, directors passing the torch, season openings and in this case celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary. Continue reading