Friday, June 19, 2015

NBAF releases 2015 season schedule

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 11:03 AM

The National Black Arts festival (NBAF) has released the schedule of performances that will take place during the 2015 program season. Starting in mid-July and running through September, this program season focuses on dance and performances by dancers from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Several different dance styles and genres will be showcased throughout the season including African, the juba, chica, the Ring Shout, the Lindy Hop, Charleston, hip hop, tap, modern/experimental and competitive street. The dance events scheduled for this season can be found below.

NBAF Gala, For the Love of Dance!
Saturday, July 11, 7 p.m.

Welcoming more than 600 arts and culture enthusiasts for cocktails, dinner, a special Bourbon Lounge, silent and live auctions and dancing until midnight (or later!), the gala festivities take place amid the splendor of the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta and its Grand Ballroom. With the season focus on dance, the gala pays tribute to trailblazers and luminaries Geoffrey Holder, Mary Hinkson and Carmen de Lavallade and offers a spectacular, choreographed dance performance showcasing a variety of traditional, popular social and modern dances.

Tickets: Start at $500
Location: InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, 3315 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Lucky Penny launches Work Room

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 10:26 AM

A PLACE TO CALL HOME: Blake Beckham (left) and Malina Rodriguez started the Lucky Penny and their search for a space in 2011. - BOBBI JO BROOKS
  • Bobbi Jo Brooks
  • A PLACE TO CALL HOME: Blake Beckham (left) and Malina Rodriguez started the Lucky Penny and their search for a space in 2011.

Dance Truck has been a local favorite since it cropped up back in 2009. A simple, innovative public art program, the project literally delivers contemporary dance performances to galleries, festivals, and spots around town in the back of trucks and trailers — if people can’t go to the art, the art will come to them. Critically praised and publicly followed, the result was a resounding success.

It’s unsurprising, then, that the work of individuals as physically and creatively dynamic as co-founders Malina Rodriguez, Danny Davis, and Vii Kelly would eventually leak outside of the trucks. Which is why, in 2011, choreographer Blake Beckham and designer/production maven Malina Rodriguez initiated the Lucky Penny. An organizational umbrella for Dance Truck, the Lucky Penny acts as a production outlet for the pair’s collaborative dance works and a curatorial platform for presenting other contemporary artists.

This is all done without an independently owned studio space, mind you. Because of high hourly rates and project-to-project scheduling, the current model for choreographers’ studio space results in its inaccessibility to independent artists and volunteer-led companies (which, coincidentally, comprise the majority of our local dance community). The system encourages infrequent and fast-paced work. Starting on July 1, the Lucky Penny will present an alternative to the established method with the Work Room.

Located in East Point’s Wagon Works, a converted mill built in 1895, a 1,700 square-foot sun drenched studio space will soon be home to a small group of resident artists — and the realization of a long-term vision of the Lucky Penny. After installation of a new sprung dance floor this summer, the space will be home for nine artists who will have year-round, subsidized studio time: six to 12 hours a week in addition to training opportunities. The cohort of resident artists includes Beckham, Anicka Austin, Melissa Word, Corian Ellisor, Sarah Freeman, Hez Stalcup, MaryGrace Phillips with Erik Thurmond, Okwae A. Miller, and Dance Truck.

The shared workplace will facilitate rigorous, consistent creative practice in the hopes of producing original performance work. Exploration and collaboration are also strongly encouraged. The idea is to proceed with depth and attention to the craft of contemporary dance, not move as quickly as possible. The Work Room, though serious in its efforts to provide a nourishing space for working deeply, it is also affordable and reliable. As a result, it is also sustainable. 

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Critic's Notebook: It's Tennessee Williams time at the ballet

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 10:30 AM

For the Atlanta Ballet, December means Christmas and The Nutcracker. February brings Valentine's Day and Roméo et Juliette. And this year, March will mean ... Tennessee Williams?

That's right. Things will be busy over at the ballet this month because in late March, the company will perform an all-new world premiere adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Camino Real created by the company's new choreographer-in-residence Helen Pickett. The work represents a number of significant firsts: the first ballet ever based on Camino Real, the first time the Atlanta Ballet has approached performing the work of Tennessee Williams, and it's Pickett's first full-length ballet (no pressure or anything).

And the choice of Camino Real is an intriguing one to say the least. Though the lyrical, existential drama has had its defenders over the years, it was a notorious flop when it first opened on Broadway in 1953. The production is being built from the ground up, not just the dance, but the sets, costumes, lighting, and all of the design elements will be new. The company is releasing a series of videos previewing the production. Here's one about the set, which is being designed to evoke the strange and singular world of Williams' Camino Real:

Camino Real runs at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, March 20-22. For more info, visit the Atlanta Ballet.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

gloATL's Lauri Stallings receives commission for Creative Time exhibition in NYC

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 12:51 PM

NEW YORK MINUTE: Lauri Stallings and gloATL are headed to the Big Apple

gloATL doesn’t like to wait for the public to come to them. With the help of founder and choreographer Lauri Stallings, the contemporary art company, gloATL, has made a reputation in the city of Atlanta for its nontraditional use of human interaction and collaboration in its performances since 2009. This incorporation of the public makes them, and Stallings, the perfect choice for a Creative Time’s newly commissioned work.

The nonprofit, known for its international commissioning of works by artists like Nick Cave and David Byrne, has commissioned Stallings and other artists from around the world to contribute to a group exhibition located in Central Park in New York City. Considering Creative Time’s own use of public display, the collaboration seems incredibly organic.

Stallings, a conceptual artist as well as choreographer, will bring the gloATL team with her during a six-week residency to realize a performance-based, nomadic installation. Grappling with the tense dichotomy of emancipation and human limitations, the work will use gestural language to evoke wonder and concern from viewers. In doing so, the installation, And all directions I come to you, seeks to create an "evanescent democracy." Moving artists of gloATL will be constructing the piece in the northern end of the park, beginning on Fri., May 15 until June 20.

Why is this relevant to Atlanta, you ask? gloATL will be hosting free and public events leading up to the move to NYC in order to encourage participation from its home city. Project TALK, conducted by gloATL creative consultants Paul Boshears and Maggie David, will take place on Tues., April 7, at 7 p.m. at an undecided location. OPEN PROCESS will be held from April 13 until May 8, and a preview of And all directions I come to you will be shown on Wed., May 6, at 6 p.m. Both the preview and OPEN PROCESS will be held at the Goat Farm Arts Center. If you're curious about the group exhibition, find more information here.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

CORE gives Atlanta a touch of France

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM

HAPPY FEET: CORE dancers performing Je Suis/I am
  • Sue Schroeder
  • HAPPY FEET: CORE dancers performing "Je Suis/I am"

With public spaces up for grabs as the more interesting alternative to a theater, it’s not surprising to stumble across a dance or visual art project outside one of the city’s notable sites. But this Sat., Oct. 18, and Sun., Oct. 19, some of the artists you might encounter Downtown or on the Beltline have traveled a little farther than usual to take to Atlanta's streets.

For the past year, CORE Performance Company of Decatur has been working in collaboration with the Toulouse-based company Association Manifeste on contemporary dance works that examine national identity, what it means to be an audience member or performer, and how that changes with location. CORE Artistic Director Sue Schroeder says, “When you collaborate across cultures, it is more of a commitment. It’s more of a commitment in resources, it’s more of a commitment energetically, but and, the rewards and the gifts are immense.” After rehearsing here last October and traveling to Toulouse this March, the collaborating companies are finally uniting to premiere two pieces with truly international perspectives.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Watch choreographer Juel D. Lane's 'How to Kill a Ghost'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 12:53 PM

One month ago, Atlanta choreographer/dancer Juel D. Lane described his latest dance-for-camera series as a film that "explores the haunting effects of holding onto something that no longer exists." On Monday night, he premiered on YouTube part one of the two-part short, How to Kill a Ghost.

Shot in multiple locations around Atlanta, including the Mattress Factory Lofts and Eclectic Bar & Bistro, the first seven minutes unfolds like a choreopoem. Using a multimedia approach honed since his original dance film Just Another Day debuted four years ago, Lane emphasizes movement, music and nonverbal communication to create an emotional response. The film co-stars Atlanta indie artists Maiesha McQueen and former CL Best of Atlanta winner Rahbi, who performs the "How to Kill a Ghost" theme song penned by Lane, which is also available on iTunes.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

'How to Kill a Ghost' finds Juel D. Lane haunted by past

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 2:28 PM

  • Juel D. Lane

If you've ever had a relationship you couldn't shake, you know that getting over the past can be a haunting ordeal.

Atlanta choreographer/dancer Juel D. Lane is preparing to release his second dance film project next month. The two-part series is titled How to Kill a Ghost and its scheduled to air online Mon., Sept. 8 at 9 p.m. on Lane's YouTube channel, Juel D. Lane Films.

As the title suggests, How to Kill A Ghost "explores the haunting effects of holding onto something that no longer exists," according to Lane's press release. This marks Lane's second time mixing the mediums of film and dance since his 2010 short film Just Another Day (see excerpts). "Dance is evolving in the 21st century and mixing the two makes the art of storytelling reach an audience beyond the stage," he tells CL.

Counted among Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" last year, Lane became the first independent choreographer from Atlanta to have a work performed by the Atlanta Ballet on the main stage when it debuted Moments of Dis in 2012.

For How to Kill a Ghost, Lane also penned the lyrics to the accompanying music, produced by Quentin "EQ" Johnson. Well-known Atlanta artist RAHBI, who also appears in the trailer below, and Maiesha McQueen perform the songs in the two-part series. As for his inspiration, Lane says "this composition was birthed out of my experiences and relationships that I have encountered in the past. This piece is therapeutic."

From the look of the trailer below, the stark soundtrack and black-and-white images of urban decay should make for a compelling contrast against Lane's dance aesthetic - like a kinetic suspense thriller.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Critic's Notebook: "Meh Meh" pits man vs. man

Posted By on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 9:49 AM

MALE ROOM: Dancers Erik Thurmond and Nicholas Goodly vie with each other to the sounds of Beyoncé in Meh Meh this weekend.
  • Aubrey Longley-Cook
  • MALE ROOM: Dancers Erik Thurmond and Nicholas Goodly vie with each other to the sounds of Beyoncé in "Meh Meh" this weekend.
On Tuesday evening, I was lucky enough to sit in on a dress rehearsal for the dance performance "Meh Meh," which is having its world premiere this weekend in a deliciously odd vintage space in the old Druid Hills Baptist Church on the corner of Ponce and Highland. The show, created by dancers Erik Thurmond of Decatur's Core Performance Company and Nicholas Goodly formerly of gloATL, riffs on themes of male competition, militarism, libido, sadism and sport.

Much of the movement, says Thurmond, was inspired by Beyoncé's recent album, and the soundscape itself, created and mixed live by Atlanta artist and musician Ben Coleman, is comprised of samples from those songs. The audience can surround the performance from a balcony or in the round along the sides of the small, arena-like space, which is hung with streaming pennant banners by artist Aubrey Longley-Cook and eerily lit by Kevin Byrd's florescent light installation. The performance begins as the dancers select a conquest, going through a series of hyper-masculine, hyper-competitive tests of prowess and strength until one victor is left standing. Haunting, strange, discomforting, funny, barbarous, erotic and misanthropic, it's a performance that's not to be missed.

"Meh Meh" continues Friday and Saturday, June 13 and 14, at 9 p.m. at Druid Hills Baptist Church 1085 Ponce De Leon Ave NE. Look for the banners flying outside. Entry is donation based. For more information, visit "Meh Meh."

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

U.S. Rep. John Lewis is a flat-out dancing machine!

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 2:17 PM

U.S. Rep. John Lewis is many things. He's an Atlanta Congressman, a civil rights icon, and a graphic novelist. We now know that he's quite the dancing machine too.

To help promote the United Nations Foundation's International Day of Happiness, he showed off some of his dance moves in a couple of new YouTube videos. A few minutes ago, he tweeted:

Here's another clip of Lewis dancing to Pharrell Williams' "Happy" inside his office:

"Be happy everybody," he said in one of the videos. "That's what the government is supposed to do, bring happiness to everybody."

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: Atlanta Ballet's 'Romeo et Juliette' retells the world's greatest love story

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 1:05 PM

STAR-CROSSED: Christian Clark performs as Roméo and Alessa Rogers performs as Juliette in the Atlanta Ballet's production of Jean-Christophe Maillot's
  • Charlie McCullers
  • STAR-CROSSED: Christian Clark performs as Roméo and Alessa Rogers performs as Juliette in the Atlanta Ballet's production of Jean-Christophe Maillot's Roméo et Juliette.
At one point in the Atlanta Ballet's new production of Roméo et Juliette, dancer John Welker as Friar Laurence tries unsuccessfully to stop the scenery from moving. The character of Friar Laurence hovers over the action of the familiar story of Romeo and Juliet: we're seeing the unstoppable and horrible series of events play out in his guilty memory (If you remember from English class, through the friar's well-intentioned plans to unite the lovers, he becomes the unwitting agent of their deaths). The road to endless self-recrimination, far worse than any hell, is paved with good intentions. The production runs at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre through Feb.15.

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