On an unseasonably cold Sunday April morning Calvin Royal III met my at the East Harlem storefront dance studio of Robin William’s Uptown Dance Academy. The interview was in conjunction with his first upcoming New York City season as a soloist with American Ballet Theater (ABT). This also marked the first time in over two decades a black man ascended to the rank of soloist with ABT.Continue reading
A tribute to the great jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker, For ‘Bird’ – With Love brings the audience back to the relaxed atmosphere of an after-hours jam session at a local jazz club. Continue reading
In January of 1972, Judith Jamison‘s legendary performance of Alvin Ailey‘s Cry was filmed for The New York Public Library’s archives, but it has not been shown online before now. Now courtesy of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theaterarchives you can watch this exclusive recording May 7 at 7pm through May 14 at 7pm. Continue reading
The Moor’s Pavane is a 20-minute ballet based upon the tragedy Othelle by William Shakespeare. The ballet was choreographed by Jose’ Limon in 1949 to music from Henry Purcell’s Abdelazer, The Gordion Knot Untied, and the pavane from Pavane and Chaconne for Strings, arranged by Simon Sadoff. Continue reading
Josephslegende (The Legend of Joseph), Op. 63, is a ballet in one act for the Ballets Russes based on the story of Potiphar’s Wife, with a libretto by Hofmannsthal and Kessler and music by Richard Strauss. Composed in 1912–14, it premiered at the Paris Opera on 14 May 1914.Continue reading
Dance Theatre of Harlem mourns the loss of the great Louis Johnson. His ballet, Forces of Rhythm choreographed in 1971, became a signature piece for the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company, finding its place alongside the works of George Balanchine, Arthur Mitchell, Geoffrey Holder, and other choreographers for the fledging ballet company. Continue reading
Arthur Mitchell’s Creole Giselleperformed by the Dance Theatre Of Harlem (DTH), and set the traditional story of Giselle in 1841 Louisiana broke barriers with this all African American adaptation. Continue reading
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
Dancer, choreographer and director Louis Johnson passed away he was 90 years old. Born March 19, 1930 in Statesville, North Carolina Johnson’s parents moved to Washington D.C. and he became a standout in the D.C. school system for his artistic and gymnastic abilities. While in high school Johnson enrolled and trained at the Jones Haywood School of Dance, where he blossomed under the tutelage of Doris Jones and Clair Haywood.
Johnson moved to New York City and continued his dance training at the famed New York City School of American Ballet, where he was mentored by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. Johnson performed on Broadway in Four Saint in Three Acts, House of Flowers (George Balanchine choreographer) Damn Yankees (Bob Fosse) and Hallelujah Baby. The success of one of his early choreographic works Lament for the New York City Ballet Club led to offers to choreograph the Broadway production of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity. This lead to additional theatrical productions including Lost In The Stars, Treemonisha and Purlie, which garnered Johnson a Tony Award nomination.
Johnson choregraphed La Giaconda (starring Martina La Rowe) and Aida (starring Leontyne Price) for the New York Metropolitan Opera. Johnson also choreographed two motion pictures the 1970 Cotton Come To Harlem and The Wiz starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Johnson never lost his love for concert dance choreographing for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Joffrey Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Philadanco and the Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theater. In 1980 Johnson started the dance department at the Henry Street Settlement (New York City), where he remained until 2003. He also taught the first Black theater course at Yale University and stated dance department at Howard University (D.C.). His directorial credits include Porgy and Bess, Miss Truth and Jazzbo Brown.
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