The Late Dr. Katherine Dunham – International Dance Icon Has Her “Legacy-Inspired” Day in Atlanta…

banner photo people La Danse Noiretop plaquesignagedunham posterDr. Katherine Dunham is often regarded as the “Mother of Dance” for black people or African Americans. Dr. Katherine Dunham was world famous for her mastery of European Ballet and Modern Dance. Ms. Dunham went on from there to “legitimize” Caribbean ,  African and ethnic South American dance. She was also instrumental in integrating technique from Big Band Era movement, Asian studies in Martial Arts and pop–culture interpretations in every kind of lady’s shoe available.

expression dancerWhat typifies Dr. Dunham’s dedication to her art form was the fact that she could demonstrate ethnic dance and defend it (at the time) at any university. Dr. Katherine Dunham was an accomplished sociocultural anthropologist with a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Carolyn“A Day of Dunham” was organized by Ms. Carol Lloyd who masterminded a very detailed tribute to Dr. Dunham and her “family-practitioners” of the Katherine Dunham “technique” of international dance. The day long tribute included panel discussions and dance demonstrations emphasizing the 1) historic relevance of Dr. Dunham, 2) her pop-culture and academically accepted dance techniques, and 3) the journeys of experiences of her company’s featured artists as master dancers in the world renowned art form. This extremely rare dance art form engagement by so many certified Dunham Technique Instructors and Scholars for the public was historic. The panels and the demonstration(s) were offered from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

seasoned“A Day of Dunham” also included the Awards Dinner which was a gala celebration with a theme, “Restoring the Legacy” from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. This was an event that I will never forget. Today it is often said that we understand what our fore-bearers did for us — struggling to survive chattel slavery, racism, Jim Crow, dismantled businesses getting ready for integration — and we say that, “we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us” but we rarely identify the individual set of shoulders with any depth to indicate what he or she did instrumentally or how well we are doing with the individual or collective legacies that we are empowered to preserve (?).

whirling dancers

KimThe highly selective program included a reception which featured the Sinfo-Nia Youth Orchestra.

RutledgeMaster of Ceremonies was included amazing curators of Dunham… information: Kim Burleson and co-hosts were Leslie Isaacs McCoy and Walter Rutledge.

The BandThe band the Russell Gunn Jazz Ensemble played classic Miles Davis and thoroughly impressed all in the spirit of great music and dance.

Frances micThe Soweto Street Beat and the Elevated Places Dance Company performed a “Tribute to Katherine Dunham”.

 

penny micThe Dunham “people” who were recognized included: AL Phillips (introduced by Anne Walker), Archie Savage (introduced by Xavier DeMar), Vanoye Aikens (The Dunham Technique Board of Certification), Vanoye Aikens

scholarship winnersotisLegacy Scholarship Award (Carolyn Lloyd), Valjeanne Grigsby (Jai’Len Josey), Community Service Award (Edeliegba), Otis Sallid (Amazing Grace Dance Company),

 

Trina ParksTrina Parks & Ed Brown (AREA Dance Company), Elizabeth “Frances” Taylor Davis (Veronica Russ and Russell Gunn Jazz Ensemble).

 

poster areaThis awards ceremony and dinner-dance affair was an intimate celebration of the life and contributions of Dr. Katherine Dunham who is often regarded as the “Mother of Dance” for African Americans because of her national and international recognition and her contributions to the art form as a cultural anthropologist.

trio

The “family reunion” aspect of the evening included recognition of the Dunham staff, dancers and associates. There was mention that Katherine Dunham had performed in 50 countries. We can only imagine even today how organized and busy the dancers and company was.

commuity gatheringThe night was tasteful, sensitive, revering Dr. Dunham and those who had traveled the around the world many times over through dance by young companies and living legends. The commodity of the historic Katherine Dunham Dance Company is what is referred to as the “Dunham Technique”. This technique and dance proficiency embodied signature movements of the Dame (Diva of Dance) and her (on the one side) uncompromising technical integrity of the European classical and modern dance forms which she blended into fluid appreciation and adaptations of Caribbean, African, Martial Arts, Big Band Era Pop-Culture Trends, Hollywood Stylized Movement Genres and “world-dance” gestures and interpretations also. Dr. Katherine Dunham essentially verified that black folks could contribute to ballet and demonstrate world dance never seen before with the passion and dignity it deserved.

The DJ who allowed us to “party” after the Awards Dinner was from Third World Production.

Yale University  comments about, Who was Katherine Dunham?

“As a strident activist for racial equality throughout her lifetime, Dunham used the mediums, of teaching, choreography and community-based arts centers as a vehicle to instill an ethos of toleration and critical engagement with the world in both children and adults.

seasoned 2This is a work that she continues to this day, even at the age of 95. Dunham saw a historical analog between the ways that religion and the cultural form of the dance was critical to the liberation of the Haitian people and how they were instrumental to the survival of United States blacks in the pre and post-Emancipation eras. Therefore, her interest in the relation between cultural forms and social functionality was not merely intellectual, but political and personal as well. Nurtured under the guidance of Chicago’s social anthropology luminaries, Dunham’s interrogation of the relation between form and function in dance rituals has interesting parallels with the symbolic approaches of Victor Turner and Clifford Geertz.”

Interview with Albirda Rose Hardt, Ph.D.

Katherine Dunham House

Research more…

Yale University

http://classes.yale.edu/03-04/anth500b/projects/project_sites/04_Parker/DunhamFinalProject.html

NY Times Newspaper

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/23/arts/dance/23dunham.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Google

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=+dr.+katherine+dunham+and+cultural+anthropology

Contact

Robert Walker
Carol Lloyd Comments…

Calvin,

Thank you for taking the time to recap that magical night.  It was an amazing experience, one that will remain with me forever. 

I am truly honored and grateful that the ancestors chose us as the conduits to bring forth the majesty of the moment.  It was a sacrifice worth making, and your articulation of it brings it to life for others who were not present.  Frances Taylor Davis is an icon who is not only very appreciative of this honor but deserving as well.  In addition, Trina Parks, Ed Brown, Otis Sallid and others recognized during the event are our pioneers of today. 

Their service in the Black dance idiom merits recognition and honor.  For me, I was especially pleased to be able to present so many youth on the program.  From Sinfo-Nia Youth Orchestra to Elevated Places Dance Company and the dynamic presentation of A R E A, we gave the best that Atlanta had on that stage on the 25th.  Also, the panel discussions and Dunham Technique dance workshops were well attended too.  “A Day of Dunham:  Restoring the Legacy” was rich with many combined legacies and left us all inspired for years to come.  For this, we are eternally grateful! –Blessings & Purpose!

The Great Entertainers 4 You…: Donny Ray Evins Seasoned Performances of Nat King Cole… and Other Classic Vocal Stylists!

 

Logo for website

Donny’s soulful singing style, engaging stage presence and warm deep voice embraces the  audience with heartfelt ballads and thrills them with sizzling upbeat Soul and R&B classics. Headliner               at Casinos, Night Clubs, Special Events, Television, and Corporate Events and five Star International Cruise Lines worldwide.

 

                   MR. COLE AND MR. SOUL

 This Dual Concert Is An International Corporate Event Favorite

                                                         PART ONE

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Donny Ray opens this show featuring his world renowned tribute to Nat King Cole. With grace and charm he  evokes the spirit of one of the most beloved entertainers of our time. Crooning such favorites as “Mona Lisa,”          “For Sentimental Reasons,”  ” Route 66,”  “Straighten Up and Fly Right,”  “Too Young,”  ” L-O-V-E”  and                        “Unforgettable.”

                                                         PART TWO 

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Now experience the real power of Donny Ray Evins.  He will astound you with this enthralling show. He is  masterful  as he moves and grooves to the music of  James Brown, Barry White, Wilson Picket and Ray Charles – to name a few.

Check out his repertoire

http://www.donnyrayevins.com/#!video/c181h

 Why Not Create Theatre to Remember    These Legends ?

Donny Ray Evins, an internationally celebrated two time ”Las Vegas Variety Entertainer of the Year”   mesmerizes audiences around the world. Donny’s unique tribute to Nat King Cole has received awards and rave reviews. His beautiful bass baritone voice, cool persona and uncanny resemblance to Mr. Cole, oozes the  very essence of the much loved crooner.

“SOPHISTICATED,” “BRILLIANT,” “FASCINATING”

          The New York Times

Relax and reminisce as Donny Ray Evins recreates magic with the hits of Nat King Cole, including:  This Soulful Concert Is Riveting

 “UNCHAINED SOUL”

     Audiences are blown away as international award winning entertainer Donny Ray Evins, performs  some of the worlds greatest Soul and R&B hits from artists, such as: Ray Charles,  James Brown,  Barry White,  Brook Benton,  Wilson Picket  and  B.B. King

“Donny Ray Evins is unchained in this explosive show. I felt that I had just seen one of the  true legends of Soul and R&B. Donny Evins is – Mr. Soul”

           Thomas Sorely – Lord Mayor, Brisbane, Australia

 “Donny has a fantastic voice, great appearance and smooth demeanor on stage. His Nat King Cole impression                                          is first rate, and his soul show blew the audience away” 

        Jacob Madison – Fortune 500 Gala Ball

 “UNFORGETTABLE”

 “MONA LISA” – “ROUTE 66” – “STRAIGHTEN UP FLY RIGHT” – “TOO YOUNG” – “L-O-V-E” – “UNFORGETTABLE”

DONNY RAY EVINS IS UNFORGETTABLE…

 

Please go to his website, tell him that Calvin sent you.

http://www.donnyrayevins.com/#!shows/c60z

More Information:

Email:   donny_evins@hotmail.com

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/DonnyRayEvins

Cruise Line Agent:

Lessa Wilkin

+44 (0)20 7794 1581

http://www.garyparkes.com

Books That Work… The Norton Anthology of African American Literature By Henry Louis Gates Jr. & Nellie Y. MCKay

 

Norton logoThe Norton Anthology of African American Literature 3rd Ed.

“Books with Legs”

The late, Ruby Dee would often speak of “Books With Legs…”

This English Language Arts, Norton Anthology collection of literature curated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nellie Y. MCKay is considered by them be unique “talking books” about the African American literary heritage.

“Talking Books”

The preface says, “few traditions in the history of the world’s great literatures have origins as curious as that created by African slaves and ex-slaves….in the stubornly durable history of human slavery , it was only the black slaves in England and the United States who created a genre of that, at once, testified against their captors and bore witness to the urge to be free and literate…”.

It is interesting to note since he recently died that this scholarly collection has the late, Amiri Baraka’s play, Dutchman on page 1885.

        Third Edition –     ISBN 978-0-393-91155-8

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (General Editor, Harvard University)Valerie Smith (General Editor)William L. Andrews (Editor)Kimberly Benston (Editor), Et Al.

The World’s A Stage…Sometimes

 

black america web logo

‘Dear White People’ Heads To Theaters This Month

According to Black America Web.Com…

Sundance’s 2014 award-winning film (U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent), Dear White People released an official red band trailer. (That NSFW trailer is available online, the one above is the official theatrical trailer.)

Justin Simien‘s directorial debut focuses on black students at a predominantly white Ivy League university. A riot occurs after an African-American-themed party is planned by white students.

The film tackles having a racial identity in a so-called post-racial America while one creates an unique path in this world.

Trailer with Review for Classroom Discussions

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN1-EYowv_E
Please see and read more…http://blackamericaweb.com/2014/10/10/dear-white-people-heads-to-theaters-this-month>

Atlanta: A Review of the Dutchman Directed by Woodie King Jr. @ the 3rd Atlanta Black Theatre Festival

                                              W. Calvin Anderson, M.Ed

The Dutchman by the late Amiri Baraka which he considered to be, “taking place …flying in the underbelly of the city” was directed by award winning director Woodie King Jr. at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival founded by Ms. Toni Henson.  The production was  produced by Micah 6-8 Media. It was a really awesome experience witnessing Mr. King’s genius once again. His respect for and appreciation of his friend Baraka’s and his work brought a special touch and interpretation to the stage for us at this fairly new festival. King’s use of digital multimedia and technical theatre and his actor’s timing, colour, poise and articulation of this fast-paced and hard-hitting spectacle unfolding into underground drama –was really something to see.

It was “timely” and in league with other theatre hubs across the nation but a very ambitious play choice and production for the three year old community-based festival.

Amiri Baraka’s work is considered “revolutionary theatre”. It is academic and eclectic and can require solid community interest to appreciate it as it is a epiphany-driven and a very academic platform for discussion(s)…We may need workshops next time around. 🙂

This was a work and a director that should have had all echelons of the arts communities of Atlanta out for theatre and tribute to Baraka staged by King for a provocative discourse. I hope that the new   currency of the festival having had the brilliance of this  author/playwright/activist and icon director Woody King fully illustrated will move more people locally to enjoy it next year. The Dutchman production was like ‘shock and awe’ and it entertained  and amazed the audience for the historic theatre “night-out” and we will look forward to hear and see about other performance reviews.

The play… with its commemorative value engaged the audience which included Broadway producers, Black Theatre Network icon ; other college groups, professors, patrons from at least 20 U.S. cities; theatre practitioners, students, educators, other festival facilitators and community members largely involved with the annual event.

The technical presentation engaged us with digital media carrying us from royal visitations in diverse parts of Africa to trans-Atlantic transition; slave ship to NYC underground transit!

New federal Theatre’s, Woody King Jr. the American Theatre Hall of Fame recognized director brought-to-life in rhythm, colour and candor a difficult play with many [moving parts] in muse, word, action and intention. Amiri staged Dutchman, the Obie Award winning production in 1964. It is a complex platform-for-dialog! It’s what we call in education a “teachable moment”! The threads of the playwright’s ideas in the English Language Arts included calling out scholasticism and rationalism about the black man’s mental plight and the fairness of his captivities since the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Amiri  called out all of the “era politics” of how black men have been “morphed” right to the present time in personae and “state of nature”.

Baraka  the writer/artist was apparently “ticked as hell” during this period as he was apparently truly prolific while experiencing the challenges of a divorce from a Jewish woman. The playwright engaged in the Dutchman, the black man’s dilemmas on every psychological polemic perhaps known to him as a human being –as transformed property — as he or his lead character Clay (20-something) — “tries/tried to be normal”.

The King directed play features Lula as a younger black woman in white mask clad in a skin tight (red, white and blue) dress instead of a 30-ish white woman in just a skimpy dress wearing sunglasses. Clay, seemingly a conservative black man dressed in jacket shirt and tie coordinated in pastel colors that assimilate anywhere.  The two characters engage a sorted drama on a NYC subway car. Clay is undressed by Lula emotionally and psychologically by her sexiness, guile and uncanny instruction as a temptress with an agenda to derail him, seduce him and eliminate him.

The artists Ryan Jillian Kilpatrick (Lula) and Michael Alcide (Clay) have tremendous range and capacities. Ryan’s role and ‘muse’ as Lula was instantly ready and gymnastic and started intrigue. She is first flirting with Michael from the outside of a subway car and then inside making the empty car with him unfolding full burlesque…with a show just for him and every red blooded, woman-loving person in the audience! Yup, she did! I felt something about that girl myself.

Ryan is simply an acting genius with tremendous mind/body control. She is one to watch in the near future — a very rare talent. She was perfect for the part. Woodie King’s casting of her produced a linguist, a temptress; a calm, confident, calculating dancer and communicator who holds your mind and draws your eyes with a gifted and rare brilliance!

Michael also showed director King’s genius of selecting acting “material” and “winding it up” to do the job of complex theatre. Michael starts out with both acting and actions very slow. He is conservative clothed in pastels, poised, and parochial.

He is obviously confused “number one” that he is he is the ‘object’ of Lula’s attention, seduction, and perversions. Michael is transparent to the audience. He shows that he doesn’t know if he is embarked on an odyssey, opportunity or “love at first sight” even-if-the-girl-be-really —–really… kinky.

Michael goes from poised, slow, suburban and even pathetic to the “open personae” of someone who has been stripped of normalcy and called out to rage. Dude…actually, played two parts: he was first a Black Andy Griffith and later a raging psychotic gansta’ and obviously a candidate acting his portrayal of an [inmate] convicted and buried again… from the television series “OZ”.

Baraka the playwright was obviously lucid with the capacity of articulating the calculated games of being a man. He was versed with the ebb and flow of a man who was and is composite of a chattel property and apparently captive of and in America trying to discover if he is in reach of re-creation or part of gymnastic-recrea-tion by someone who really seems to know him.

Baraka is angry and wants to dialog on every scholastic, emotional and physical level that there is to engage discussions. He is calling our scholastic… De Anima for black men, white men, temptress’ and our relations to love and hate itself.

I know that this is somewhat “enuf” but since we are giving tribute to him in light of his recent death let’s continue. Baraka is obviously angry and gives voice to chattel slavery; chattel-led personae; fake machismo relationships with barbed wire color-line restrictions; and limited durations of opportunities to get-over or overcome contorted profiles because the black man is perhaps always “called out of normalcy again and again”.

Clay is called out for fun and fem-fatal contempt; Clay is called out to be challenged and to be a spectacle; Called out to stage what love, lusting emotions are left in him; Called out to see what dreams, fantasies, self-reflections, and restrictions are intact and left to stroke. Clay is called out like a ‘wild-kingdom lure and live narration’ and we in the audience see what self-determination, manhood, brilliance and animal is left in Clay and also how it is measured, coddled, captivated and broken.

Baraka’s work seems like primordial voices from the inside of Eden, the slave ship, the street car, and even “King Kong’s” cage. I don’t think personally he is engaging the white woman alone. I think he is asking us (as Woodie depicted in her dress) to engage a reflective practice of our love and lust of America herself. She is and has always been young bold and sexy to the world and we have always been her patriot and patronizing fan. She is a young and capable nation-state that makes [her] very powerful and there is enduring love there and it does not matter like biblical metaphor’s do, what we think about her control. We love her and have earned the right to love her and to be loved. We can’t seem to live with her or without her. We are in love, dependence and lust. We are west of Eden. We are eating proverbial apples discarded like us. We are perhaps from his mind at the time destined primates and not noble men murdered again and again — while just chilling out and minding our own business.

He seems to ask in this play about his place, love-placement, lust- station-stop and his home in the suburbs or a top-flight tenement? Where is his suitor and normalcy?   The play is about a lie. The play is about the truth! The play is violent in its posture. It deals with generational posturing of the black man in systemic engagement. He is dressed will and poised and he is still being “duped” by Lula archetypes that perhaps reach to creation myths. The play Dutchman has always had interesting correlation’s to the German music icon, Richard Wagner’s famous work, “Flying Dutchman” about the legendary Dutchman Man of War Slave Ship that never, ever… finds port.

Dutchman by Amiri Baraka is considered a tool of a political satirist. The dialog and drama is not pretty or petty and considered by the public to be more dangerous than worthy of real art/humanity discussions no matter how evolved we are beyond the 20th century when it was written.

We are left to wonder what the literate public thinks? Is it scandalous for a brother to have gone so far a-field speaking about so much pain, contempt, love, polemic-range and anger?

Is it scandalous for black theatre to risk-take and to celebrate playwrights who are not just entertaining today when we don’t reinvest liberally to further our art forms?

Is it scandalous that there is ceaseless curiosity, attention and economy from all sectors of our society forever paid to black women and white men staged as [America]? The black woman is a brilliant, temptress-like and the man…who an elite victim with a  powerful, and dangerous past and present capacity. The white man and black woman are institutional partners and their strata  amaze us to no end. They are engaged in one another and in their corporate building, government, nation-building, lust, secrets and shock and awe love-live.

We are transformed in the authenticity of it all. We are willing captives again and again each week. We enjoy the sophistication of the scandals. We yearn for their drama. They have the highest approval ratings…today. It’s cool to talk about anything from strata to ambitions of 21st century women and 21st century white men. The pen of a “play-maker” and screenwriter and sister are even cool… whether they are annoyed, angry, murderous or seductive. Go figure (?).

 

 Comment from Mr. King

 

Woodie King Jr.

Oct 16th, 7:08pm

Woodie King here.

A great big thank you! You are definitely on the case for black theatre. I know as brilliant as you are you could be doing so many other things.

I loved your deep, deep review of DUTCHMAN. You took me to places I had to re-examine. No one else ever mentioned my use of Wagner’s THE FLYING DUTCHMAN.

 

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 Thanks to Emory University…

 The 27,233 Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Voyage Records Are Available Thanks to Emory University, the National  Endowment for the Humanities and W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database at: http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces

Poem: Sagging

graphic 100 

 I asked a young brother,                                                                                              “why you sagging?”                                                                                                                He said,   “it’s comfortable;  stylish; I don’t give a damn about reactions and respectfully Old School… I ain’t bragging.”

I said,  “the reason why it’s tolerated in America                                        and you ain’t got buck shot                                                                                           like the ole dayz,                                                                                                                 or ain’t hangin’ from a tree                                                                                            is we fought hard for                                                                                                            [our] presence and                                                                                                               integrity and                                                                                                                                                 that history                                                                                                                                          included me.”

He smiled,                                                                                                                                 I smiled and                                                                                                                               I said                                                                                                                                     “good day.”