*Despite a worldwide pandemic keeping them from the stage, the famed Dance Theatre of Harlem found a way to do what they do best anyway – uplift and inspire through movement.
For “Harlem Week” in August, which was virtual this year, the troupe released a video called “Dancing Through Harlem,” which showed the members dancing and leaping through Harlem landmarks, including the Harriet Tubman sculpture, the Apollo Theater, and the Frederick Douglass Statue in the opening credits.
The video then opens with two dancers wearing masks inside the 145th Street subway station (A/B/C/D lines) choreographed to the music of J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto in A Minor 3rd movement. It cuts to four female dancers in front of Shepard Hall at City College of New York, then to four male dancers at Riverbank State Park, and then to the full eight dancers at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building.
Since the video was tweeted by @balletarchive on October 12th, it has received over 7.6 million views and counting.
“Dancing Through Harlem” was produced by Derek Brockington and Alexandra Hutchinson, with choreography by Robert Garland and filmed by Heather Olcott and Joe Samala.
Her Rolled Up Sleeves Represent the Work to Be Done: Illustrator Kadir Nelson on His Inspiring New Yorker Cover ‘Election Results’ (Video)
*Illustrator Kadir Nelson talks about capturing some semblance of hope in his new cover for The New Yorker’s Nov. 23 issue.
The image shows a young girl of color – a blue flower in her natural hair – holding an American flag and looking forward with a smile brimming with confidence. The image appears to honor both the generations of young Black girls who now see themselves in the nation’s first female and African American vice president, Kamala Harris, and the untold legions of Black women whose political activism was the sling-shot that got Harris and President-elect Joe Biden into the nation’s highest office.
“What’s most important is communicating the feeling behind the image, and, in this instance, less is more, Nelson says in an interview with The New Yorker about the image. “The sole figure forces the viewer to focus on the idea that I’m trying to convey. That idea is about hope and promise, but it’s also about work—the work it took to achieve the results of this election, and the work we’ll have to do in the months and years to come. The blue iris flower in the girl’s hair represents hope, and her rolled-up sleeves gesture to the work that needs to be done.”
“I hope the world will safely open up once again after the pandemic has passed,” he continues. “I hope for certainty and finality with our recent election and for a peaceful transition. And I hope that young girls around the country and the world will learn and accept that there are no barriers they can’t overcome. Sometimes all we need to know is that what we want to achieve is possible.”
Nelson is known for painting African-American icons who have inspired him, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., baseball star Jackie Robinson and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.
Below is a CBS News interview with Nelson from April 2020 about his work offering inspiration during this pandemic-filled election year.
OWN to Air Director Oge Egbuonu’s Powerful Ode to Black Women ‘(In)Visible Portraits’ (Trailer)
*OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network has picked up the evocative documentary film “OWN Spotlight: (In)Visible Portraits” from thought leader, storyteller and filmmaker, Oge Egbuonu, as her directorial debut to air in 2021.
Nearly three years in the making, (In)Visible Portraits is a powerful celebration of Black women sharing their stories of struggle, resilience and beyond. Described by Egbuonu as a “love letter to Black women and a reeducation for everyone else,” the documentary shatters the too-often invisible otherizing of Black women in America and reclaims the true narrative as told in their own words. The film illuminates the history of how we got here, dismantles the false framework of the present-day reality and celebrates the extraordinary heritage of exceptional Black women whom have come before as well as igniting hope for the next generations.
“Creating this documentary was a personal feat,” says Egbuonu, “as a Black woman, I have been told all my life the things that I cannot do and why it has been impossible for people who look like me to live full, unapologetic and authentic lives. Joining forces with OWN, who is so passionate about amplifying the message of this film, is a deeply gratifying opportunity. This film unapologetically affirms Black women and offers a poetic invitation that says I see you, I hear you and you matter. This documentary speaks to the times and my unshakable belief that healing begins when voices are heard, so I could not be more grateful for the enthusiastic support from OWN and their passion to share this with their audience.”
IndieWire described the film as “simply another facet of a story that demands to be watched” and Variety said “the documentary’s emotional generosity and mindful elegance impress.”
Watch the official trailer below:
“Oge’s artistry and visionary storytelling in this beautiful film will deeply resonate with our viewers,” said Tina Perry, OWN president. “I am so proud showcase its important message which so perfectly aligns with OWN’s commitment for Black women to see themselves and their lives reflected and celebrated in our programming.”
Prior to creating “(In)Visible Portraits,” Oge produced films like “Loving” (the critically acclaimed film starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga about Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case which legalized interracial marriage in the United States) and “Eye in the Sky” at the independent production company Raindog Films alongside co-founders Ged Doherty and Academy Award®-winning actor Colin Firth. Oge also previously held a seat on the board of the Diversity Committee for the BRIT Awards, where she collaborated on revamping the voting academy and tackling diversity within the music and film industries.
Misty Copeland: Ballet is Listening after George Floyd
*Ballerina Misty Copeland says her profession has to evolve along with the world’s racial reckoning or else it will cease to exist.
“As the world is changing, as it grows more diverse, if the ballet world doesn’t evolve with it, then it’s going to die,” Copeland told reporter Jenna Adae.
The first black woman to become the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre said that after George Floyd’s death and the focus on Black Lives Matter, for the first time in her 20-year career, people are starting to believe her when she says the lack of diversity within the global ballet industry is a problem.
“There’s so many communities that are not going to support an art form that they feel doesn’t want them to be a part of it,” she says.
Watch her full interview below or HERE.
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