4/21/18 O&A NYC DANCE/REVIEW: newsteps- a choreographer’s series

By Walter Rutledge

The Chen Dance Center began the 34th consecutive newsteps; the semi-annual emerging choreographers’ series, Thursday, April 19 at the Chen Dance Center, 70 Mulberry Street in New York’s Chinatown. This season the three-performance spring showcase, which runs through Saturday, April 21, selected works from “non- dancers”. Professional artists, actors, musicians, singers, photographers, who applied their expertise of their respective art forms to the choreographic process. The five choreographers selected through an open audition for the April concerts are Kate Douglas, Bryndon Cook, Lauren Oliver, Alec Funiciello, and Sophia Zukoski. Each choreographer is given rehearsal space, an honorarium, mentoring from a member of the selection panel, and multiple (three) performances to give the works time to “find its own voice”. Continue reading

4/10/18 O&A NYC DANCE: Abdiel Jacobsen- Reaching Towards The Gods

By Walter Rutledge

Abdiel Jacobsen rise in the Martha Graham Dance Company is best described as meteoric. In true Graham drama, apprentice Jacobsen made his New York City company debut in 2012 performing Graham’s masterwork Errand In The Maze. Performing opposite internationally acclaimed Russian ballerina Diana Vishneva, his impressive debut endeared himself to both audiences and critics. Now a principal dancer with the Graham Company Jacobsen is looking forward to the New York City season April 11 through 14 at New York City Center. Continue reading

4/8/18 O&A NYC IN MEMORARIUM: Donald McKayle (July 6, 1930 – April 7, 2018)- Rainbow Round My Shoulder with Mary Hinkson

Dancer, choreographer, educator and author Donald McKayle passed on April 7, 2018 at age 87.  In honor of this dance icon O&A NYC posts his 1959 masterwork, Rainbow Round My Shoulder. Continue reading

4/4/18 O&A NYC DANCE: Dougla Returns to Dance Theatre of Harlem Tonight

Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) begins their four performance New York season tonight at New York City Center. One of the season highlights is the much-anticipated revival of choreographer/Renaissance Man Geoffrey Holder’s Dougla. Dougla captures the pageantry, beauty and ritual of a the wedding day of a young Dougla couple from Trinidad. They are the offspring of Africans who were brought to the Caribbean as slaves and Indians who were brought as low cost labor after the abolition of slavery. Continue reading

4/2/18 O&A NYC DANCE: Ingrid Silva- Brown Ballerina

By Walter Rutledge

Ingrid Silva was like every little girl who studied ballet; she dreamed of being a ballerina. As Silva’s potential became evident she realized that there was little opportunity for a dark-skinned classical dancer in Brazil. In 2008, at age 18, she left home and moved to New York City to study at the Dance Theatre of Harlem.    Continue reading

3/6/18 O&A NYC DANCE: A Conversation With Michelle Fleet and Michael Trusnovec- Paul Taylor Dance Company 2018 New York City Season

By Walter Rutledge

The Paul Taylor American Modern Dance begins its annual New York City season at the Koch Theater, Lincoln Center tonight with a special 6pm Dance For All performance. All seats are $5. The season will offer 13 Taylor classics, a work by Lila York, world premieres from Doug Varone, Bryan Arias, and Taylor’s 147th work entitled Concertina. Continue reading

1/26/18 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: An Afternoon With Arthur Mitchell

By Walter Rutledge


I believe that children are our future;
Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride,
To make it easier;
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be. George Benson- The Greatest  
                                                                                                                                    

This is the opening stanza for George Benson’s The Greatest written for the 1977 biopic of the same title about Muhammad Ali. It is also the music and title of a duet choreographed by Arthur Mitchell for Dance Theatre Of Harlem, and in many ways it remains Mitchell’s credo. An Afternoon with Arthur Mitchell presented at the Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University on Saturday, January 20, 2018 was an opportunity to see a master teacher, director, educator and showman in action.

 After a short introduction Mitchell and percussionist Baba Don Eaton Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University proceeded to teach the audience a series of polyrhythmic music passages. The highlight was a rare screening of the dance documentary (1973), featuring Mitchell’s ballet Rhythmetron, and a fledgling Dance Theatre of Harlem. Most of the film took place in the basement of the Church of the Master, the home of his first school at 81 Morningside Avenue.

Throughout the film Mitchell shares his gift of dance with the charm, confidence and authority that has become his trademark. He masterfully used popular social dances as a bridge to ballet. Mitchell made classic ballet less foreign and more accessible to the young audience from the Harlem community. It was wonderful seeing a performance by the original cast of Rhythmetron; which featured Lydia Abarca, Yvonne Hall, Virginia Johnson, Ronald Perry and Walter Raines.

Following the film Mitchell took questions from the audience, which included balletomanes, dance history enthusiasts and young dancers from Harlem School Of The Arts and Dance Theatre Of Harlem. At 83 years old Mitchell displayed the same vigor, charisma and irrepressible wit we had seen earlier in the film. Always “Mr. Mitchell”, he shared anecdotes, offered advice, and even corrected deportment with an uncompromising paternal demeanor.

An Afternoon With Arthur Mitchell

In her book Page by Page author Ruth Page has a chapter entitled Father Mitchell 1972. Page writes: “Arthur Mitchell is a person with no vices. He doesn’t smoke or drink, and eats a lot of ice cream. He works very hard and is truly a splendid example for young dancers. He is really a sort of Sir Galahad.”

For more information about the Wallach Art Gallery and the Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer exhibition and related events visit wallach.columbia.edu. 

Upcoming events include:

Wallach Gallery Talks
Saturday January 27, 2018 1:00 – 1:30PM
Learn more about key works in the Arthur Mitchell archive from different perspectives. All talks begin at 1 pm and meet in the Wallach Art Gallery lobby on the 6th floor. Lynn Garafola, exhibition curator and Professor Emerita of Dance, Barnard College, Columbia University.

Wallach Family Afternoon
Saturday February 10, 2018 1:00 – 3:00PM
An afternoon of storytelling, art-making and movement for families to enjoy together.

Discussion with former dancers from the Dance Theatre of Harlem
Saturday  February 24, 2018, 1pm

For more information about the Wallach Art Gallery and the Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer exhibition and related events visit wallach.columbia.edu. 

 

 

 

 

 

1/6/18 O&A NYC DANCE: Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer- A Retrospect On A Life Devoted To Dance

By Walter Rutledge

Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer will open at Columbia’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, 615 W 129th St, on Saturday January 13, 2018. The exhibit is presented in collaboration with Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where Mitchell donated his archive in 2015. This is the first major exhibition devoted to celebrating the life and accomplishments of   New York City Ballet’s first African American principal dancer and the co-founder and longtime director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Curated by Lynn Garafola, Professor Emerita of Dance, Barnard College the collection will be on view through March 11, 2018

“This exhibition pays homage both to Mitchell’s creative magic and to his visionary achievements, revealing to those who never saw him dance his charismatic stage presence and the full scope of his career as an artist,” said Garafola. “At the same time, it places the Dance Theatre of Harlem, which he co-founded and directed for more than 40 years, at the crossroads of political, artistic and racial change in the United States and beyond.”

Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer will feature objects from Mitchell’s archive, including the telegram from Lincoln Kirstein to Mitchell inviting him to join the New York City Ballet, an Al Hirschfeld drawing of Suzanne Farrell and Mitchell in Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Mitchell’s 1952 Four Saints in Three Acts souvenir program and posters from the 1961 Spoleto Festival, where Mitchell both choreographed and performed.                                                                  

Other highlights are photographs of Mitchell and fellow dancers by Anthony Crickmay, Peter Basch, Martha Swope and Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon), and an eight-foot-long Dance Theatre of Harlem puzzle, created by Frank Bara in 1991, that chronicles the first two decades of the company’s history with illustrative detail of its artists, heroes and friends. Dancer Charmaine Hunter’s costume and headpiece designed by Geoffrey Holder for Firebird (1982), one of Dance Theatre of Harlem’s signature works, will be on view, as well as performance footage from a number of sources including the New York Public Library’s Jerome Robbins Dance Division.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Dance Pioneer Arthur Mitchell

“I am a political activist through dance,” said Mitchell, who received a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Columbia in May of 2016. “I believe that dance, and the arts more broadly, can be used as a catalyst for social change—this is why I started the Dance Theatre of Harlem. With my archive at Columbia, artifacts of American dance history and African American history are accessible to young scholars, academics and the general public. The exhibition at the Wallach Gallery will further this push for change.”

The Wallach Art Gallery advances Columbia’s historical, critical and creative engagement with the visual arts. Serving as both a laboratory and a forum, the Wallach offers opportunities for curatorial practice and discourse, while bridging the diverse approaches to the arts at the University with a welcome broader public. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, noon until 8pm and Saturday and Sunday, noon until 6 pm. The Wallach Art Gallery is free and open to the public.

“Our grand re-opening year at the Lenfest Center for the Arts is the perfect opportunity to celebrate Mitchell’s artistic genius, through the holdings of Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Wallach is proud to collaborate on this presentation, offering a glimpse of these treasures to the public, while also appealing to those interested in the history of ballet, the history of Harlem and, more broadly, modern American race relations,” said Deborah Cullen, Director and Chief Curator of the Wallach Art Gallery.

For more information about the Wallach Art Gallery and the Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer exhibition and related events including: An Afternoon with Arthur Mitchell (January 20, 2018, 1pm) and Panel Discussion with former dancers from the Dance Theatre of Harlem (February 24, 2018, 1pm) visit wallach.columbia.edu. 

To watch the complete Agon featuring the original cast click below

http://outandaboutnycmag.com/1-7-18-oa-nyc-dance-agon-new-york-city-ballet-1960/

 

 

12/28/17 O&A NYC DANCE/HEALTH AND WELLNESS: The Village Elders Celebrate First Year In New Home

By Walter Rutledge

The Dance Of The Village Elders ended their first fall session at St. Philip’s Church with a performance and a party. The dance and fitness program, which began in 2010, was forced to disband in 2015. In February 2017 the program reorganized as a “Fitness Cooperative”, and relocated to St. Philip’s Church, 204 West 134th Street.

We didn’t have any funds, but we had the will to stay together; so money became the least important reason not to work together. St. Philip’s Church came to the rescue offering us space in the Harlem community, which kept to program accessible to many of our participants. On Thursday December 14 the “Ladies” presented a holiday celebration demonstration/performance to a standing room only crowd of family and friends. The 60 minute presentation, which included a warm up with audience participation, and performances by the Ladies and Three Jazz Kings (Andrew Damakakos, Bless Goode and Judah Marable) courtesy of the Dance Program at Harlem School of the Arts.

Dance Of The Village Elders- Santa Baby excerpt

The celebration continued the following Thursday, December 21, during our last class  Everyone brought a dish, and I shifted responsibilities from instructor to disc- jockey. This is always one of my favorite sessions it gives us an opportunity to fellowship. Everyone is relaxed and even more jovial than usual,  still reveling in the success of our performance a week earlier. 

We will resume classes on Thursday January 4, 2018 2- 3:30pm. The classes are free to the public and all are welcome. Have a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year! We hope to see you in January. 

 

12/7/17 O&A NYC DANCE: NewSteps 2017 Begins Tonight- Meet The Choreographers- Keith Comley

By Walter Rutledge

Newsteps begins their 35th bi-annual emerging choreographers showcase December 7 through December 9 at the Chen Dance Center, 70 Mulberry Street in Chinatown. Newsteps offers new and emerging dance makers the opportunity to develop and present works in a low pressure, nurturing environment. Each choreographer is given rehearsal space, an honorarium, mentoring from a member of the selection panel, and multiple (three) performances to give the works time to “find its own voice”. Continue reading