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5 Dance Exhibits to Love

As February draws to a close there’s no reason to stop that loving feeling. This year brought about a change in perspective for me regarding February; since I’ve never been wild about Hallmark Holidays, why not celebrate love–in all of its forms– for the entire month? Love feels good, doesn’t it? In the spirit of keeping love alive for all of February, I’ve searched for new dance-related things to love. This week we’ll close out the series by looking at 5 Dance Exhibits to Love. Enjoy!

Love Sky/Cielo del amor by CosasdeKike

Love Sky/Cielo del amor by CosasdeKike

Making Art Dance: Backdrops and Costumes From the Armitage Foundation. Karole Armitage, the “punk rock” ballerina, shares a new retrospective of her costumes and set pieces for the ballet, theater and film. Curated by former Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art director Jeffrey Deitch, the collection highlights innovative choreographer’s collaborations with fashion designers like LaCroix, Jean Paul Gaultier and Donna Karan’s Peter Speliopoulos, as well as with artists and filmmakers including Donald Baechler, Alba Clemente, Jeff Koons, David Salle and Philip Taaffe. Housed at Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary’s Glass Gallery, the show is a short PATH train commute from New York City — and a chance to check out this 50,000 square foot exhibit space designed by Richard Meier that opened last year. It’s also home for Armitage’s current troup, Armitage Gone! Dance. The company took up a residency in Mana Contemporary’s main building adjacent to the gallery.

Through March 13 at Mana Contemporary, 888 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey;manacontemporary.com

National Museum of Dance: Jacques D’AmboiseThis exhibition pays tribute to 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee, Jaques d’Amboise, whose determined spirit saw him through years of ballet training and countless hours of rehearsals with choreographic luminaries such as George Balanchine. His positive outlook has led him to become one of the premiere dance educators in the country. While you’re visiting the museum, take in other ongoing exhibits, including Dancers in Film, a retrospective of some of cinema’s finest footwork, and Richard Calmes’s Dance Magic photography exhibit.

Dance Theater of Harlem’s 40 Years of Firsts. Originally an exhibition at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in 2009, the exhibit is still just as relevant today….and available to travel. Highlighting Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 40-plus year history, this magnificent exhibition celebrates the history and art of dance with 22 costumes, set pieces, videos, photographs and tour posters from four staged ballets including: A Streetcar Named Desire, Creole Giselle, Dougla and Firebird. This multi-media exhibition captures the majesty of the choreography, the beauty of the costuming, and the dancers who defied gravity and stereotyping, and celebrates the history of Dance Theater of Harlem, a company that began when Arthur Mitchell –inspired by the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–wanted to make a difference; by doing what he knew best. He brought the art form of ballet to Harlem. With a modest beginning, holding classes in a warehouse on 152nd Street, the school has greatly expanded and since grown into a multi-cultural dance institution. Visit the official website of the Dance Theatre of Harlem for further information.

Dancers Among Us. Jordan Matter made headlines when he became inspired to search for serendipitous dance moments out in the world. He photographed dancers in showers, snowbanks, New York City streets…even subways. This project became a passion and eventually a book, Dancers Among Us. Matter’s exhibits have since toured the world, most recently Seoul, Korea, and he’s now at work on a book about circus performers. Stay tuned.

 JR. In 2007, (with Marco), he did Face 2 Face, the biggest illegal exhibition ever. He’s known for creating “Pervasive Art” that spreads uninvited on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle-East, on the broken bridges in Africa or the favelas in Brazil…. although he isn’t really known: French street artist JR prefers to remain anonymous. He’s come a long way from his humble beginnings– he got into photography after he found a camera in the Paris subway. 

JR was a featured resident artist at Lincoln Center where he photographed the NYCB, and went on to continue working with ballet dancers, this time on the roof of the famous Palais Garnier, one of the homes of the Paris opera in a photo-shoot for the French magazine Madame Figaro. The spread features 40 dancers, over 180 feet above ground, the poses remininiscent of the classic musicals of Bubsy Berkley. 

Most recently, in the three years after he called for a “participatory art project” at a TED conference in Long Beach, California, his Inside Out Project has become one of the most ambitious and appealing art projects in the world. The art project has expanded from the streets and villages across the globe, to installations in places like Lincoln CenterTimes SquareEllis Island and the Paris Pantheon.  

Feeling intrigued? Inspired? Awesome! JR wants you…There’s an open call on his website where anyone can get involved.

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5 Dance Films To Love

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Interview with Jhe Russell aka Rawzen

There are many facets to Jhe Russell. Throughout his professional dance career he appeared  worldwide with a number of top dance companies, including the UK’s Northern Ballet, Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Boston Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Dance Theater of Harlem, Bucharest Opera and North Carolina Dance Theatre. Today he is making a name for himself as a Hip Hop recording artist and choreographer.

1. How did you get started in ballet?

When I was six I was fascinated by Super Man. I wanted to fly like him so I would wear my blanket as a cape and imagine that I could float across the sky. Later on I saw a commercial for Boston Ballet’s Don Quixote and I watched Rudolf Nureyev on the screen. I saw him jumping with no wires attached to him and I asked my mom to take me to see him dance. When I saw Nureyev dance with Boston Ballet I knew at that point that I wanted to fly through the grace of ballet.

2. When did you feel like you had reached the pinnacle of your career? Can you describe a favorite moment in dance?

The pinnacle of my career was when I got the chance to dance the lead role of Basilio in Don Quixote with The National Ballet of Canada. Don Quixote was the first ballet I saw and it was my dream to dance the lead role in that ballet.

3. You went from ballet to beatz. How you get involved with music? What was it that lead you to start creating music?

Hip Hop music was the canvas of my life outside of ballet. I was always mesmerized by the personality that oozed out of the art emceeing. An emcee stands for master of ceremonies and the most powerful aspect of the emcee is the creativity put into their lyrics. I was inspired by groups like Public Enemy, Krs-One, Run DMC, U.T.F.O and L.L. Cool J. I wrote my first rhyme when I was in grade eight but I found my true voice in Hip Hop from the art of freestyle rhyming. Freestyle rhyme is the ability to recite an unwritten rhyme at any given moment. When I was in the National Ballet School of Canada, my ability to freestyle brought me closer to the other students who were not familiar with Hip Hop culture. Unity, peace and having fun are the most important aspects of Hip Hop culture and those are the energies I like to project when I am emceeing.

4. “Tribute to Maurice Béjart” is one of your most popular videos and you were a dancer in his company. Why did you choose to make this song? Why Maurice Béjart?

The reason I chose Maurice Bejart for my musical tribute was because Maurice Bejart was all about bringing cultures together through dance. In the classical ballet world, dancers of a darker complexion tend to struggle for their place but at Bejart Ballet you see every race represented at the highest technical level. The hook of the Bejart tribute goes “We want more war but we need more peace, we want more dance but we need Maurice”. War in this case, stands for everything that has to do with ignorance. Racism, Religion, Money and natural resources are some of the issues that we go to war over every day. Unity and appreciating all cultures through music and dance can heal this world that is saturated with misogyny, homophobia, racism, greed and violence. Maurice’s name is used in my song to represent change and the continuation of pushing boundaries.

5. You have officially retired from dancing professionally. Can you share what the process of transitioning into new career pursuits has been like for you?

I am still trying to figure out my next move after retiring. I am currently looking to teach and choreograph for companies and schools. I have been blessed to have people around me who have helped me tremendously during my transition.

Tony 1730 – Jhe’s unique choreographic tribute to Tony Fabre and Nelson Mandela danced by Clelia Mercier

6. What is your vision for the future?

My vision for the future is to first appreciate every moment happening in this moment. I would like to one day have my own company where I can choreograph and showcase my Hip Hop music. Teaching workshops where I can educate young people through the art of rhyme and dance is also something I would like to accomplish.

You can help Jhe’s dream of having his own company come true by voting for his piece Tony1730, which has been selected for a choreography competition here.

7. What advice would you give to today’s young dancers?

My advice to young dancers is to never forget your ancestors. It is important to know who came before you in order to see after you. Use youtube to study the legends who did or are still doing what it is you want to do. Remember that technique is not the spirit of dance but that your personality is the spirit of dance. Dance was a form of celebration for the gods in ancient times and the spiritual power given to movement that is truly free is untouchable no matter what color, gender or size you are. Always remember that whoever you idolize is no different from you. Be humble and grateful for every opportunity you get. Make sure you form your own opinions because it is very easy to be influenced by other people’s perspectives. Absorb the energy that is being given outside of the world of dance so that you can become the physical voice of real life issues. Hip Hop means to be two things, Hip means to be aware and Hop means forming a movement that expresses your awareness. Be true Hip Hop and move with the knowledge that surrounds you and educate the ignorant.

 

Follow Jhe on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jherussell

Rawzen on YouTube:www.youtube.com/channel/UCsweRxTYlk-kkLT5h-LPoSQ

Download Rawzen’s Albums:
Harriet Tubman’s Attic – www.cdbaby.com/cd/rawzen2
Highly Focused – www.cdbaby.com/cd/rawzen3
The Poetic Variations (as Cum Laude The Anomaly) –www.cdbaby.com/cd/cumlaudeta

Rawzen on SoundCloud: www.soundcloud.com/rawzen

 

Dancer: a novel

dancer

Title: Dancer
Author: Lorri Hewett
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Ages: 12 and up
ISBN: 0525459685

Sixteen-year-old ballerina Stephanie lives for ballet, and dreams of a future as a professional dancer in New York. However, her parents think she ought to get serious about planning for college. Stephanie begins to wonder if she has what it takes or if there is room for black ballerinas in the spotlight when a new Russian student steals the lead role in the school performance.

Help arrives in the form of a self-appointed mentor, Miss Winnie, who once studied with the founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem. Miss Winnie sees promise in Stephanie, and works to help her succeed. Miss Winnie’s nephew, Vance, a talented but unmotivated dancer, becomes her dance partner and potentially more.

Beautiful Ballerina

BeautBallerina

Author: Marilyn Nelson illustrator: Susan Kuklin
Title: Beautiful Ballerina
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2009
Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 9780545089203

Written by Newberry Honor winner Marilyn Nelson, Beautiful Ballerina is a visual and lyrical celebration of ballerinas. Every page of Nelson’s flowing poetry is accompanied by bright, colorful photographs of young ballerinas from the Dance Theater of Harlem’s school. Tiny ballerinas stretch, point their toes, and mimic the older ballerinas as they fly through the air in grand jetes or balance en point. Every step captured by the camera was professionally choreographed by Endalyn Taylor, the Director of Dance Theater of Harlem. Words and poses are equally inspiring for a variety of readers, from young dancers to adult aficionados.