We had all witnessed EVIDENCE
Sixteen of us then made it across the street to the Chinese restaurant on the eve of the year of the water rabbit, 4720, in China, 14 time zones ahead of us. According to the official Chinese state news agency Xinhua, tradition notes the rabbit as the luckiest of the 12 zodiac animals, representing peace and longevity. Kimmy Yam claims it also as evocative of the power of empathy. In Vietnam, the same day marks the eve of the year of the cat, a totem characterized as tranquil, realistic, intelligent, and artistic. All seven of these qualities had just been on display across 8th Avenue on the stage of the Joyce Theater, clearly visible through the front windows of the eatery that had stayed open late just for us.
We got to work helping Nina, our hostess, rearrange tables into a large irregular square in order to accommodate everyone in the group at a single platform within easy enough speaking distance from one another. This marked the first collaborative action that a Dancing Matters crew undertook as a community. As an omen of renewal and resilience that seemed to echo what we had just taken in, a concert consisting of three works by Ronald K. Brown crowned with an onstage appearance by the creator alongside Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag at the final curtain bow, the physical nature of our initial communal activity augured well no matter which calendar you may consult.
Dancing Matters aims to create, foster, and promote democratic and collaborative critical response from across the wide and inclusive spectrum of dance related communities that the Dance Parade and DanceFest manifests each May. The group at the square table included several current and former professional dancers and choreographers, practitioners of the 5Rhythms meditative movement practice founded by the late Gabrielle Roth, at least one professional DJ, one creative writer with a movement background and others whose relationship to dancing might be characterized more ineffably. We went around the table person by person, each offering a few words that they might share with one another or a loved one as a way of conjuring and encapsulating an overall reaction to what they had just experienced.
Our professional DJ proved the first to comment on the formidable contributions of Brown’s collaborators in music and costuming. The curtain had parted on “Open Door” to begin the show revealing Andrew Antron seated at the baby grand piano audience left with the rest of Arturo O’Farrill’s band Resist made up of seven other members of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra in a line across the rear of the stage back lit at the cyclorama and largely in silhouette. The choreography, originally commissioned and performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in 2015, received its company premiere with these performances at the Joyce and the live presence of this fine ensemble along with their crisp Afro Cuban polyrhythmic sound served as a foretaste of the exquisite production values that would apply across the evening.
Our DJ did not neglect the music of Jason Moran accompanying the middle offering “The Equality of Night and Day,” which received its New York City premiere with these Joyce presentations. Nor did she ignore the Duke Ellington, Roy Davis, Jr., and Fela Anikulapo Kuti suite for the perennial favorite and crowd-pleasing finale “Grace,” commissioned, like “Open Door,” for the Ailey troupe (1999) and re-configured for EVIDENCE in 2003. Each recorded score sparked a similarly strong dialogue with the dancing and other stage elements.
Arcell Cabuag receives acknowledgement as Associate Choreographer for “Open Door.” Keiko Voltaire designed the costumes for this opus matching the imaginative flow if not the striking color of Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya’s designs for the other two works. Except for the projected photo collages curated by Deb Willis for “The Equality…”, no one at the table mentioned the superb set and lighting design and technical direction from Tsubasa Kamei that sustained throughout the evening, nor the accompanying text heard in recordings of the political activist and academic Angela Y. Davis. My oversight, I fear.
I have known and admired Ron Brown and his work, sometimes close at hand, since he, Dean Moss and I each presented duets as choreographer/performers decades ago on a single program of the Fresh Tracks platform at Dance Theater Workshop (DTW), which has since morphed into New York Live Arts. Yet this concert offered my first opportunity to ingest at one sitting such a panoply of his enormous creative output across the years of a generation and consider the significance of his contribution to the field not only in terms of his work over time but of his mentorship and development of a legion of strong voices among the dancers who have risen in his company such as Camille A. Brown, to point out just one.
It seemed to me that the mastermind of this home season within the warm and friendly confines of the Joyce engaged an interrogation in each of these three pieces, not only regarding individuality, community, and social justice as manifest in the movement of his company and the contributions of his collaborators, but among the technical discipline, tempos, rhythm and compositional elements that make dancing speak, especially as it draws from within bodies coming from across the African diaspora and beyond.
Besides the work of both Alvin Ailey and Camille A. Brown, between whom he represents a creative bridge, the choreography also recalled for me that of Garth Fagan in both its compositional invention and arresting deployment of stillness. I will leave it to other members of Dancing Matters to supplement as they wish.
Dancers in the Ronald K. Brown/Evidence company in “The Equality of Night and Day” at the Joyce Theater in New York.Credit…Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
By Gia Kurlas
Jan. 18, 2023
“The Equality of Night and Day,” a New York premiere by the choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his company, Evidence, essentially starts out mid thought. A voice says, “And finally.”
It’s so no-nonsense that it practically sounds like a complete sentence. Spoken by the activist Angela Davis in a tone verging on weariness, the “and finally” urges the crowd — at least the one you imagine standing before her — to think about the larger picture, as she talks about issues that ail the United States, like “the assault against affirmative action” and “the increasing conservatism.”
The dancer Joyce Edwards, a silky powerhouse full of drama whether seemingly motionless or rippling her body with fervor, is poised center stage: She bends forward and rises back up with crossed wrists until her arms lift and bloom out like glorious wings. The lighting evokes the faded radiance of a sunset. As the other dancers gather around her, she clasps her hands, and we hear Davis ask that the people before her “think very deeply about what you can do to make a difference.”
Davis’s speeches are heard throughout this 2022 work, performed at the Joyce Theater, but better is its sparkling score by the jazz pianist Jason Moran. The music starts out spare and contained, but gradually builds with blistering, tinkering speed to get at, sonically, the urgency of not just one, but multiple generations that have faced oppression.
Dance Matters attended this event as its 3rd outing in 2023. Many of our members were struck by the theme of embattled political candidates fraught with confusing platforms of issues up until they rattled the stage with disparate dance vocabulary. The show that took place on City Center’s stage in the dead of winter was well attended by members of Congress as well as school students from the Bronx.
Oh what a joy to see this show! Dancing Matters was out once again in its March outing to see “Another Placeholder,” a tribute to contemporary dance brought on by seasoned dancer Tyler Peck along with Urban Legend, Princess Lockerooo– the unlikely duet paired the graceful movements of Peck’s ballet arabesque along with Princess Lockerooo’s fierce waacking gestures.
JOIN OUR YEAR END CAMPAIGN ON FACEBOOK:
455 FDR Drive, Suite B104, New York, NY 10002
Thank you so much for your support!
Dance Parade is pleased to create this 2022 Year-End campaign to raise critical funds for dance education. Beginning Tuesday November 29, 2022 our campaign seeks to raise funds to enable Teaching Artists to bring the gift of dance to over two dozen schools and community centers. We believe that dance can awaken the human spirit and help create a more vibrant and equitable society.
Our Board of Directors along with Facebook have generously committed to tripling every dollar donated, expanding what we can do as a community that loves dance.
DANCING THROUGH NYC: This season our $20,000 campaign will help Dance Parade create 10-week dance education programs that will benefit over 1,500 participants in schools and community centers.
- NYC iSchool (9th Grade) Chelsea, Manhattan
- PS. 347, School of Humanities (Middle School), Bushwick, Brooklyn
- PS. 86K The Irvington Elementary School, Brooklyn
- PS. X114 Luis Llorens Torres School Elementary School, Bronx
- PS. 112Q Dutch Kills Elementary School, Queens
- International Charter School of New York (Middle School), Brooklyn
- PS. 56, The Lewis Latimer Elementary School, Brooklyn
- Fort Hamilton Senior Recreation Center, Brooklyn
- PS. X537 Bronx Arena High School, Bronx
- PS 023 the New Children’s School (Elementary), Bronx
- University Neighborhood High School, LES, Manhattan
- PS. 34 Franklin D Roosevelt School, East Village, Manhattan
- Ft Greene Park, Brooklyn
- Virtual Classes in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese
GRAND FINALE: Students will end their programs with participation in the 17th Annual Dance Parade Saturday, May 20, 2023 and then showcase their work on stage at DanceFest after the parade! For many, this will be an experience of a lifetime as most of these kids have never appeared on stage.
BEYOND THE ZONE: Our 2023 theme, “Beyond the Zone” reflects a “flow state” to remind us that we need to effortlessly move through difficult times as well as acknowledges New York City Mayor Eric Adam’s “City of Yes” campaign to reform antiquated Zoning laws related to dance. Updating Zoning ordinances in New York City follows the 2017 repeal of the NYC Cabaret License law that restricted dance to a small number of venues licensed for dance. Come Saturday, May 20, 2023, 10,000 dancers will dance Beyond the Zone in New York City’s largest dance event by showcasing over 100 unique cultures and dance styles.
YOUR PERKS AS A DONOR: 100% of your contribution will go to the artists and means so much to us and we are grateful for every donation, no matter how small!
$50+ Donors receive a tax exempt receipt letter in order to deduct their donations from their taxes
$100+ Donors receive above AND a commemorative Beyond the Zone refrigerator magnet; Sponsor a Dance Organization of your choice in the 17th Annual Dance Parade May 20, 2023
$150+ Donors receive all of above AND a personalized Beyond the Zone Coffee Mug and a ticket to Dance Parade’s Grandstand
$250+ Donors receive all of the above AND get a “Beyond the Zone” Tshirt, Complimentary admission to all Dance Parade events: Launch Party, Grandstand and After Party and will Sponsor a Diversity Workshop in a New York City public school.
Thank you so much for your support!
Equipo Dance Parade
Each Dance Parade hundreds of photographers love to come and capture the magic found when 100 unique styles of dance and cultures are all presented in the same place. They love the energy, movement and color found among ancient cultures and highly ambitious artists. For each category, Dance Parade and DanceFest, we will award 3 winners with a cash prizes, $200 for first, $100 for second and a coffee mug for 3rd.
Entries must be digital in color or can be black and white. If participating in the contest we would like to use your photos for our promotional purposes to present the parade as an art parade and also a participatory experience. Therefore we will need to request you to sign off on using your photos and will credit the photographers whenever appropriate.
1. Choose your best shots – Select among your photos to upload up to 10 photos for Dance Parade and up to 10 photos for DanceFest.
2. Identify – Name your Photos with your legal name and category “jane_doe_parade_1.jpg”, “jane_doe_festival_2.jpg” and if possible include the artist name “jane_doe_parade_baryshnikov_white_oak_1.jpg”
3. Upload – Photos should be high resolution 300dpi between 2MB and 5MB. It would be helpful to us as well if you could also upload low resolution photos so that we can post the best entries into our website’s photo gallery.
Deadline for Entry & Uploads – May 31st, 2022
4. Jury Review – A jury of at least 5 members from the Dance Parade Steering Committee will review each photo and assign a number from 1 (least) to 10 (best). First stage highly scored photos may appear on our Facebook @danceparadenyc, Twitter @danceparadenyc or Instagram @danceparadenyc pages for social media feedback. The top 5 Photographers with the highest score will then be selected in a semi-finalist review period and the committee will re-evaluate and re-score. This selection process will last one week.
5. Announcement – The winner will be announced June 7th.
Thank you and good luck!
Warning: COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. There is an inherent and elevated risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any public place or place where people are present and there is no guarantee, expressed or implied, that those attending a Dance Parade event will not be exposed to COVID-19. As per current Federal Center for Disease and Control recommendations, we recommend (but do not require) all participants over the age of five to be fully vaccinated in order to attend our events.
Continuaremos monitoreando el impacto de la pandemia de COVID-19 en la salud y trabajando con las agencias municipales, estatales y federales para ajustar esta política según sea necesario.
On behalf of the Dance Parade Board, Steering Committee and the broader dance community we serve, I convey our deepest condolences to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDadde, Christian Cooper, David McAtee and countless other victims of injustice everywhere.
Dance Parade plays a critical role condemning racial injustice and hate. By presenting as many cultural dances as possible, our work seeks to advance cultural equity, celebrate diversity and inclusion for all people — not just those who are privileged by structural inequities or the color of their skin.
As we recognize #BlackOutTuesday today please take a moment to educate yourself on these issues and consider supporting one or more of the non-profit organizations below who are fighting to change the structural racism that surrounds us.
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund is the country’s top legal firm fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, it seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve justice for all. It also defends the gains and protections won over the past 75 years of civil rights struggle.
Poor People’s Campaign confronts the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, and militarism. As a nation we are at a critical juncture — and we need a movement led by working people that will shift the moral narrative, impact policies and elections at every level of government, and build lasting power for poor and impacted people.
Color of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization that helps people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by 1.7 million members, they move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.
The Citizenship Education Fund, founded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, is working to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world. It is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless.
Mijente is a national hub for Latinx and Chincanx organizing that advocates on behalf of those communities as well as other oppressed communities. It has been leading the charge within Spanish language media, attempting to bring awareness and solidarity with Black-led protests and organizations. It serves as a link between many Black-led organizations and Spanish-speaking communities, participating and leading in solidarity actions in several states.
The Bail Project is a national nonprofit organization that pays bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence. In fighting mass incarceration, they aim to secure freedom for as many people as possible and ensure equal justice for all.
These groups are doing important work in communities all across the country, and now more than ever they are counting on our support.
#TheShowMustBePaused #BlackOutTuesday #BlackLivesMatter
Dance Parade is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization