Louis Johnson’s passing marks the end of an era in Black dance. Johnson was the last of the of his generation of 20th century American choreographers of African descent and International renowned. His contemporaries, Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Geoffrey Holder, Donald McKayle, and Arthur Mitchell, all forged through the restrictive Jim Crow era of hatred and segregation; that unfortunately included the arts- and dance.Continue reading
Appalachian Spring premiered on October 30th, 1944, at the Library of Congress, Coolidge Auditorium in Washington DC, with Martha Graham dancing the lead role. Created during the darkest days of War World II Graham wanted to create inspiring art that came out of the American experience. Graham spoke of the work, “To be great art… it must belong to the country in which it flourishes, not be a pale copy of some art form perfected by another culture and another people”.Continue reading
Lark Ascending set to Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending- Romance for Violin and Orchestra with choreography by Alvin Ailey. The ballet made both its company and world premiere at New York City Center during the 1972 season. Continue reading
Gangsta Walking (often referred to as: G-Walk , Buckin, Tickin, Jookin, or Choppin) is a street dance that originated in Memphis, Tennessee alongside “Buck” music during the 1990s. The Gangsta Walk is commonly performed to Crunk music due to the particular ‘bounce’ in the beat and the movement the dancers make to keep with it. Though Gangsta Walking has been around for many years, much of the dance is still exclusive to the city and surrounding areas. Continue reading
Stormy Weather is a 1943 film musical produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The movie is considered one of the best Hollywood musicals with an all African-American cast and serve to showcase of some of the top African-American performers of the time.Continue reading
Talley Beatty choreographed and performed Mourner’s Bench in 1947. It represents the anguish and loss for former slaves, now free men, killed during the Reconstruction Era at the beginning of the rise of the Klu Klux Klan. Beatty explained to me, “People were murdered by the Klan and at daybreak their relatives would find their bodies in the fields still covered in the morning dew.”
Geoffrey Holder’s Banda dance debuted in the 1954 Truman Capote/Harold Arlen musical House Of Flowers. Holder the Baron of The Cemetery (based on the Haitian Loa of Death Baron Samedi) received both a performer and choreographer credit in the program. The Broadway musical takes place somewhere in the West Indies during Mardi Gras weekend.Continue reading
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