Three New York Premieres Highlight the Program
Preview by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited
The Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) returns to New York for its fifth season of self-produced performances on April 22-23, 2016 in the Ailey Citigroup Theater, located at 405 West 55thStreet, in New York, New York. The Masterworks Redefined – New York series will showcase the energetic dance artistry of the repertory dance company that is turning 40 in its 2016-2017 season. The National Endowment for the Arts designated Dallas Black Dance Theatre as an “American Masterpiece Touring Artist.”
DBDT has performed on five continents and in 14 countries. Over the course of its history, DBDT has performed worldwide for 3.5 million arts patrons and 2.5 million students, grades K-12, and annually serves more than 100,000 people, including more than 20,000 youth. Dallas Black Dance Theatre has also performed several times at the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre is one of the five founding companies of the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) along with PHILADANCO! (Pennsylvania), Lula Washington Dance Theatre (California), Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (Colorado), and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (Ohio). DBDT will host the 29th Annual IABD Conference and Festival January 25-29, 2017 in Dallas, Texas.
“We love being able to tour in New York City. New York is known as the mecca for dance, but DBDT has proven itself to be an American jewel and this is a way for our east coast audiences to learn more about who we are and what we have to offer as a premier dance company,” said DBDT Associate Artistic Director Melissa M. Young. “We have a diverse company of superb dancers that are passionate and can tackle our vast repertoire with great ease. Having an annual season will ensure the success of DBDT leaving an indelible impression beyond New York’s well-seasoned audience’s expectations again and again.”
“We also have had a strong affiliation with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater over the years,” explained Dallas Black Dance Theatre Founder Ann Williams. “Alvin Ailey was a mentor to me when I started Dallas Black Dance Theatre 39 years ago and gifted us with one of our first works Reflections in D. A lot of our dancers have trained at The Ailey School or been a member of Ailey II.”
Highlighting the season are three New York premieres. Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Fellowship Award recipient Bridget L. Moore created Unearthed which exposes the emotion and strength of motherhood and loss. The dance is set to the music of Wynton Marsalis, James Horner and Sweet Honey in the Rock, Nina Simone, and José James. She is currently a visiting professor at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea. Ms. Moore is a former dancer with Ronald K. Brown’s EVIDENCE, A Dance Company.
After dancing with Madonna and being dance captain for Cher’s Dressed to Kill Tour, Jamal Story sends Dallas Black Dance Theatre dancers skyward in an aerial duet called What to Say featuring DBDT’s most powerful dancers. Story, a former DBDT dancer, has also danced on Broadway in The Color Purple and Motown: The Musical serving as dance captain on both productions. Jamal sits on the board of the SAG-AFTRA New York Local as co-chair of the union’s National Dance Committee.
Furtherance, choreographed by former Alvin Ailey dancer Kirven Douthit-Boyd, takes the audience on a journey from anguish to bliss amid the backdrop of a Japanese taiko drum musical score. Douthit-Boyd is the Co-Artistic Director of Dance for the Center of Creative Arts in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for 11 years.
Returning to New York in an encore presentation is, Instinct 11.1, that captures the essence and strength of Denise Jefferson. Francesca Harper created the work in honor of her mother who was the director of The Ailey School from 1984 until her death in 2010. Ms. Harper began her career as a choreographer in Germany where she choreographed a full evening of work for the Holland Dance Festival. She was also the dance consultant for the feature film Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman, who went on to win an Oscar for her work. Ms. Harper has her own dance company, The Francesca Harper Project.
The performance is supported by American Airlines, the official and exclusive airlines of Dallas Black Dance Theatre.