Spoiler alert – in BalletBoyz’s Young Men at The Joyce Theater, everyone dies at the end. Founders of the all-male U.K. Company, Michael Nun and William Trevitt are bent on making collaborative works. The collaboration here is the feature-length film of the same name paired with dance, which for the most part is seamless, but unbalanced. Choreographer Iván Pérez’s Young Men is replete with lush partnering, trusting lifts, canons that leave no dancer behind, and sequences that repeat, and repeat. His danced story is a retelling of many from World War I—women are left behind, they commiserate longingly because their men go off to war, but they dream of their return. In period costumes, Young Men opens with the men of BalletBoyz as soldiers on screen, then on stage gruffly pressed to run drills over and over again. Individually, or in different pairings, they run laps, slide into the floor from exhaustion and push right back to standing, leading with their elbows. This is their pace. Or they fold in, toes, torso and fingers curled with anguish. PTSD sets in when the sole soldier returns home only to die in the arms of the only women (Elizabeth McGorian and Jennifer White)—those left behind. Sadly the film took center-stage (very long dance scenes), and so much more time than the live dance. The longer the evening ran, the more the urge to see live dance grew. The dancers are Benjamin Knapper, McGorian, Harry Price, Matthew Rees, Liam Riddick, Matthew Sandiford, Bradley Waller and White. Young Men is presented in two acts at The Joyce Theater and runs until Sunday, February 3.
Ballet with Theara Ward
Sat, Feb 2 @ 2:30PM
Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts
14 S Park Street
Intermediate ballet with Dance Theatre of Harlem's Theara Ward.
Hindu Liturgical Dance with Akhila V
Wed, Feb 6 @ 5PM
1775 Oak Tree Road
Intermediate Hindu religion based Liturgical dance with Akhila V.
Sat, Feb 16 @ 1PM
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Liturgical dance classes with Gabrielle Sprauve, Rev. Eyesha Marable of National Liturgical Dance Network and Najiyyah Bailey of DEW Ministries include Modern, West African, Congregational Praise and Pageantry.
Ballet with Gabrielle Sprauve
Mon, Feb 18 @ 4:30PM
Garden State Ballet
28 Glen Road
Ballet dance class with Gabrielle Sprauve.
FROM ELKA SAMUELS SMITH:
JoJo Smith, who was born to dance and became known as the “Choreographer to the Stars,” died at 80, on Tuesday, January 22, from complications resulting from a stroke. He transitioned around 4 a.m. at the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, New Jersey. Smith emerged as a legend after serving as dance consultant for the iconic film Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta.
“JoJo Smith was a giant on the international dance scene. His technique defined ‘The Wave.’ He staged the biggest musical acts and TV specials that gained him national prominence. I was so lucky to train with him and be nurtured by him. We will forever be grateful to have known his genius and generosity,” said Debbie Allen, Smith’s former student and cousin, who is also a dance legend, choreographer, television director, producer and Famestar.
“My father was an exceptional dancer-musician who created a new style of jazz dancing. His unique personality and musicality are the fabric of his choreography and his contagious energy — a true classic and a legend! I will miss our times together hanging out, but I will forever be inspired by him,” said son Jason Samuels Smith, an Emmy Award winner and lead from Broadway’s Bring in Da’ Noise, Bring in Da’ Funk.
The phenomenal Eartha Kitt was part of Smith’s family. She was called Aunt Kitty by family, and toured together with his mother,Anna Grayson, who danced with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company for many years. It was Dunham herself who oversaw some of Smith’s early formal modern and ballet dance training. Smith’s dance styles incorporated a unique, energized blend of Dunham technique with jazz, musical theater, disco, samba, mambo/salsa and Black social dance. As a black belt, he even added in some of his Karate moves.
With a career spanning more than six decades, some of Smith’s credits included playing lead Shark of the Puerto Rican teen gang in West Side Story; dancing opposite Paula Kelly in Something More; and having a central role in Joyful Noise. Smith danced on several television variety shows during the 60s and 70s. His own group, JoJo Smith and Company, staged shows and taught classes around the world, with residencies in Paris, Rio de Janeiro and several cities in Japan.
Smith has been credited with giving Hollywood and New York notables some cool dance rhythms. During the 1970s disco craze, he was known as New York’s hottest dance teacher. Among his famous disco dance students, who wanted to learn John Travolta’s dance moves, were Sylvie Vartan, Barbara Waltersand Diane von Furstenberg. He also coached many stars including Barbara Streisand for her nightclub scene in The Owl and the Pussycat; Joey Heatherton in Dancin’; and Melba Moore, Shelley Winters and Barry Manilow in their own shows.
Smith will most fondly be remembered as the founder of JoJo's Dance Factory, known today as Broadway Dance Center, that he started with his former wife Sue Samuels. During this time, he became a strong advocate for a vegetarian lifestyle, even building a juice bar at the studio as a direct response to challenges with his own hips. Broadway Dance Center became one of the largest “drop-in” dance training centers in the world by continuing the structure, as well as retaining many of the same teachers that flourished at JoJo’s Dance Factory. Smith’s unique style has influenced generations of the greatest dancers and entertainers all over the world including the late, great Michael Jackson.
Smith danced in many all-black venues and productions before he made it to the big time. He was part of the original Lon Fontaine Trio at Club Harlem in Atlantic City. Smith’s original “gumboot dance” choreography for a Harry Belafonte show that toured the world, was an homage to the South African gold miners’ culture and life under apartheid. He would later insert those “boot stomp” movements into some of his class dance routines. Aside from recording two albums “JoJo’s Dance Factory” and “Jazz Dance Today,” he also composed and/or appeared on several other recordings over the years.
Smith was born in New York City on July 20, 1938, to Anna Margaret Grayson, a Katherine Dunham dancer, and Joseph Benjamin Smith, tap dancer and drummer, who performed in a family act with Cab Calloway and the famed Nicholas Brothers. He grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Evander Childs High School. Smith is survived by his children Michael Smith, Monica Richard Smith, Elka Samuels Smith, Jason Samuels Smith and Rocky Smith; siblings in New York and St. Louis; grandchildren; cousins and scores of loving friends and students. He was predeceased by his son Christopher Smith.
Smith was cremated at a private ceremony earlier in the week. In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family asks that donations be sent to the JoJo Smith Legacy Project on GoFundMe: https://bit.ly/2WnAqHG. Fund raised will be used to produce a multimedia documentary on JoJo Smith’s life and a future memorial/celebration of life.
For more information, contact Elka Samuels Smith, Artist Management, Divine Rhythm Productions at 212-262-1394 or JoJoDanceFactory@Gmail.com.
Edisa Weeks/Delirious Dances
At Mabou Mines the multi-media artist, Edisa Weeks will present THREE RITES: Liberty, part of the trilogy titled Life, Liberty and Happiness, where “Connected like a puppet to objects that have informed the Black experience in America, Weeks alternates between black face, white face, storytelling and visceral dance to dig into the foundations of Liberty in America. THREE RITES integrates live music, dance and two visual installations to examine how life, liberty and happiness are guaranteed and pursued in America; and how these rights manifest in the body,” according to the release. Weeks shares the evening with Cristina Pitter. Find out more here
Urban Bush Women
January 31 – February 9
In Brooklyn at BRIC, choreographers and associate artistic directors Chanon Judson and Samantha Speis offer a new iteration of the 2001 work, HairStories. Now as Hair & Other Stories (New York premiere) this evening-length “…experience, blends dance-theater performance and conversation to explore disquieting perceptions of beauty, identity, and race through the lens of hair, primarily that of African-American women…a medley of personal narratives gathered from community, kitchen and living room conversations, social media, and YouTube,” notes the release. Find out more here
January 29 – February 3
With choreography by Iván Pérez, BalletBoyz offers the film and dance work, Young Men “a story of love, friendship, loss, and survival, chronicling the journeys of those sent to fight in the First World War,” according to the release. Find out more here
January 30 – February 2
Brazil’s Groupo Corpo returns to BAM with two contrasting work, Bach and Gira. Dressed in gold, black, and blue, the dancers ascend, drop, and hang from giant steel tubes in Bach, a mix of contemporary and classical forms, while in Gira, in collaboration with São Paulo punk-jazz-rock band Metá Metá, the company honors Brazil’s diaspora by “…invoking ritualistic rhythms and movement rooted in the rites of Umbanda—one of the most widely practiced Brazilian religions which combines Candomblé with Catholicism and Kardecism—and serves as the primary source of inspiration for the Gira’s aesthetics,” according to the release. Find out more here
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker/Rosas
January 30 – February 2
Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) first presented in 1995, draws inspiration from the 1899 poem by German Symbolist writer Richard Dehmel, in which a woman confesses to the man she loves that she is pregnant with another man's child. The New York premiere is performed by Rosas dancers Boštjan Antončič, Cynthia Loemij, and Igor Shyshko. Find out more here
This Issue Project
Benedict Nguyen, the Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow at The Issue Project curates revolutionary new moon in aquarius (rnma), with Ambika Raina, Katrina Reid, and lily bo shapiro. The evening is their first program “in soft bodies in hard places,” a series of trans-disciplinary events circling planetary events. Find out more here
ASASE YAA African American Dance Theater
In Drum Love, a classic rites of passage and coming of age story by artistic director Yao Ababio Asase Yaa, the dancers and drummers are joined by a traditional Malian band. Find out more here
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company
February 2 – 3
The Company returns for their annual Chinese New Year Celebration, this year, in a new Bamboo themed production to celebrate the Year of the Pig. Find out more here
Hair & Other Stories (New York Premiere)
January 31 - February 9
An epic journey where you will engage in intimate conversations, enjoy local guest artist performances, and immerse yourself in this durational dance-theater work that explores disquieting ideas of beauty, identity, and race through the lens of hair.
Come early! The lobby will open at 7PM with an art installation from Sophia Dawson and Delphine Fawundu, and guest performances, story-sharing, and other activities from the following artists:
FROM THE FOLKS AT BAM: For the past four years, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has presented an emerging choreographer whose work reflects and extends the dance traditions of Africa and the Diaspora with this Fellowship. This award affords the opportunity to study a specific genre of dance or a choreographic style on the African continent.
Information on requirements and qualifications: go to www.bam.org/education. Please make sure you have thoroughly read the 2019 information sheet with eligibility and submission requirements before submitting your application online, as they have changed since previous years.
To apply directly, create an account and access the application here.
Deadline: Thursday, Feb 14th at 11:59PM EST
If you're having any trouble with the BAM or application websites , please contact the Education Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (718) 724-8122.
Various Artists – Danspace Project’s “Food for Thought”
January 25 – 26
At Danspace Project, curators Arthur Avilés and iele paloumpis offers two evenings of works by eight choreographers. Avilés (January 25) - Avilés plus Alethea Pace, Matthew Perez/ColemanCollective, and Richard Rivera / PHYSUAL. And paloumpis (January 26) – titled: Pulling Back the Shroud: uncovering and reimagining our relationships, will be mayfield brooks, Marielys Burgos Meléndez, Kayvon Pourazar, and Ita Segev. Find out more here
Shannon Hummel/Cora Dance
January 22 – 26
Neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn
Hummel, in collaboration with the dancers, will present the site-based work gifts which “…pushes the limits of confinement and imagination to paint a world where value is defined by circumstance,” notes the release. Find out more here
The Chocolate Factory
January 23 – 27
In Rosenblit’s Im gonna need another one, “Parts of things are in the painful process of becoming whole things themselves…Rosenblit stands in as Performer, Herself, as well as multiple figures which speak to problems for the preparation for future strategies and ways of organizing how we come to know where and who we are,” according to the release. Find out more here
The Joyce Theater
January 23 – 27
Returning from their 2017 Joyce debut, the L-E-V brings the New York premiere of their latest work, Love Chapter 2, an “…examination of the isolation and loneliness that occurs when we lose our connection to one another” by artistic directors and co-founders Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, notes the release. Find out more here
The DynamiteExperience (TDE)
The Actors Fund Theatre
For their inaugural show, TDE’s artistic director, Winston Dynamite Brown writes: “TDE is an arch between past, present and future,” included are premiere works, plus repertory, that “…illustrates both present growth and the direction of our future.” Find out more here
January 25 - 26
ZviDance explores "...our relationship with technology and social media in Like. Audiences are asked to leave their cell phones on and become part of the experience," notes the release. The new work, Maim (‘water’ in Hebrew), is also on the program. Find out more here
Thunderbird American Indian Dancers
Theater for the New City
January 25 – February 3
For this 44th annual Thunderbird American Dancers dance concert and Pow Wow, celebrating diversity by honoring the culture of our first Americans. New additions will be a contemporary work by Choctaw/French choreographer Michael Taylor-Dancing Wold and more. Find out more here
Curator and Flamenco artist, Nélida Tirado brings the old "Café Cantantes" to life at BAAD! Have a drink during performances by NYC Flamenco dancers, singers, and instrumentalists including: Guitarist - Pedro Cortes, Singer - Jose Moréno and Dancers - Nelida Tirado and La Conja. Find out more here
Jeannette Stoner and Dancers
January 26 – 29
Veteran dancer/choreographer Stoner presents the premiere of Stairways, along with repertory works. Find out more here
January 27 – 28
In the premiere of the evening-length work One, “…dancers and musicians [who] become resonant bodies, instruments of space, [blur] the boundaries of medium,” notes the release. Find out more here
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a Empire State College's online program Center for Distance Learning. I am also a former faculty member at The Ailey School and the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University dance major program, Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College (Guest), Kean University and The Joffrey Ballet School's Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program. I write on dance for The Amsterdam News, Dance Magazine and various publications. Click below to read more about me at my home page - "About Me."