Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What brings joy

The world is a fracking mess...

...and then, there's dance. And the people who make it. And so. much. more. But let's stay with dance for the moment.

On Monday night, New York's dance world celebrated a sample of its best. I say "sample" because, of course, there's still a lot of excellent territory out there that even the new and improved Bessie Awards have yet to cover. However, it was exhilarating to sit in Harlem's world-famous Apollo Theater (thank you, Mikki Shepard) with its grand history of Black American entertainment, and watch so many people of color presenting or receiving awards. It was a good visual, which made its point just by being there with no particular political fanfare. Just do it!

What grown-up glamor and fun, too--from the big opening by talented kids from Harlem School of the Arts (choreography by Aubrey Lynch) to MC Bebe Neuwirth channeling the crush everyone has on Marcelo Gomes to David White--who started it all, way back in 1984--reminding us that his muse, dance educator Bessie Schonberg advised us to "get wild." Good advice to this day.

Photos aren't posted yet, but The Bessies Web page, hosted by Dance/NYC (thank you, Lane Harwell), now lists all the presenters, nominees and recipients (among whom, I'm particularly thrilled to note, were the team of Ishmael Houston-Jones, Chris Cochrane and Dennis Cooper for the revival of Them; Walter Dundervill for Outstanding Visual Design in Aesthetic Destiny 1: Candy Mountain; young tap dancer Caleb Teicher; choreographer Beth Gill; Raushan Mitchell; Wendy Whalen; Violeta Galagarza; and Trisha Brown). But, really, I was happy for everyone and was having such a rollicking good time, that I feared I might just pitch out of my box seat. Look out below!

You'll find contact information for the Bessies' dynamic new producer Lucy Sexton, assistant Heather Robles and the entire current selection committee at this link. Get in touch and get involved with what Sexton is calling the New York Dance and Performance League.

Brahms "Bravo" LaFortune visits with Queensborough Community College students (c)2011, Eva Yaa Asantewaa
QCC students entertained by Bravo (c)2011, Eva Yaa Asantewaa
The next day, I had the joy of welcoming Brahms "Bravo" LaFortune to each of my two classes in Introduction to the Art of Dance at Queensborough Community College. Bravo visited us to introduce and screen a new documentary on house dancing--Check Your Body At The Door--produced by my longtime colleague Sally Sommer, dance historian and critic, and directed by Charles Atlas and the late Michael Schwartz.

Bravo on the move (c)2011, Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Among many other spectacularly talented dancers like Archie Burnett and Brian "Footwork" Green, Bravo can be found in the doc, dancing his fool head off in underground clubs, dancing solo in empty elevators, mimicking and slyly do-si-do-ing with people on the street, and generally being the graceful, energetic, highly-opinionated charmer he proved to be in his almost non-stop interactions with my students and choreographer Emily Berry's dance majors. We all love Bravo and are grateful to Sommer for acknowledging the house dancing community and documenting this important cultural phenomenon.

L to r: Eva Yaa Asantewaa; Emily Berry (QCC Dance instructor/Dance Coordinator); Brahms "Bravo" LaFortune

Check it all out at Check Your Body At The Door where you can view photos and video clips, learn more about the dancers and certainly get yourself a copy of the DVD.

No comments:

Copyright notice

Copyright © 2007-2018 Eva Yaa Asantewaa
All Rights Reserved

Popular Posts