Stick Fly on Broadway

Months before my trip, I knew that if i had the time, this was the Broadway show I wanted to see.  Fortunately i was able to score a half-price ticket through TKTS, and since I went alone, I got a 6th row center ticket!! It took place at Cort Theater, and I was surprised to see that it was a pretty small venue. It was amazing, I was like 10 feet from the stage!

It was as if i was watching a tv show because some of the characters were peeps that i have watched over the years-specifically Dule Hill and Mekhi Phifer!!  Condola Rashad looked so familiar to me, and i only realized later that i had seen her in “Ruined” when it came to Seattle.  She is the daughter of Ahmad and Felicia Rashad.  It was produced by Alicia Keys, who also composed the music, and definitely contained her signature piano pieces. It was dramatic and soap-opera-ish with its twists and turns and a lead up to big secrets being revealed (I love soaps, btw so this was great for me) but it was also smart in the sense that it brought in complex characters that were multi-dimensional. The cast was dynamic and effective together, and there was something about each character that reminded me of someone or something that has happened in my life, which made it even more entertaining. There were conversations and experiences regarding race class and gender that I have also had with my own friends and fellow cultural studies colleagues, in relation to cultural dynamics, the struggle to defend ourselves in classroom settings, the labels that don’t fit,  and the difficulty of being disempowered and disapproved of by those claiming to also be cultural workers.

Even though the play doesn’t end with everything wrapped up neatly,  there were uncomfortable conversations that took place, secrets that had come out, and truths,values that had been realized in that one powerful weekend in Martha’s Vineyard. Loved it!!!

Duwende

Pronounced “Doo-WEN-day,” Perez Hilton says this NY based group is “Amazeballs” and yes, truly they are 🙂 I kept having to remind myself that there was no background track, and that all of it was coming from these 6 people. They sang MJ, Prince, and they do their own original stuff too.  I loved Rock with You by MJ and Kiss by Prince. I felt bad that they crowd wasn’t more lively, which I of course tried to make up for with my own cheering section of myself, Annie, and Staci.

As i sat there watching them perform, it was actually the first time i thought about what it would be like to design my own series and bring it to Seattle. What would that look like? After seeing these groups, i decided my dream would be an Homage to Old School, and Duwende would definitely be in the lineup!

King Michael Showcase

Fresh off of my Stylistics high, this showcase took place on the same floor at the Hilton, and  I couldn’t help but be drawn in, turned off by the thought of someone else impersonating MJ,  but amused by the photos depicting “Michael” and his group of dancers. And although truthfully, the Michael character’s makeup scared me, One interesting story that came out was that a few months before MJ died, the impersonator had met him, and MJ had signed his back.  That night, he got the signature tattooed on his back, so it would always be with him.

What i was not prepared for was the amazing dancing and sick beatboxing that I was witness to from the group itself! They rocked it and the crowd loved it.  What more could we ask for than an homage to our beloved King of Pop at APAP?!

Starstruck by The Stylistics

Thinking back to this showcase always brings a big smile to my face. Universal Attractions reps both Slick Rick and The Stylistics, so when i visited their booth in the exhibit hall, agent Adam Zagor kindly gave me a Stylistics cd and invited me to the showcase after i mentioned how my parents were big fans and i grew up listening to them.  So there i was, 2nd row, swooning to “Betcha By Golly Wow” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” beaming from ear to ear.

And as if that wasn’t enough, they were outside after the showcase, so i was able to meet them, have my photo taken with them, and have them sign the cd for my parents.  They were so sweet and gracious, and it was something i will always remember and treasure! Music-wise, my soul was meant for this era!!

Music of Huang Ruo at Le Poisson Rouge

On my last night in NYC, i ventured out to Le Poisson Rouge, by recommendation of Michelle, my Director, who thought that i might like the venue. She definitely knew my taste, because i really enjoyed this spot. It reminded me of Jazz Alley a bit, with better lighting and way better food. I was totally worn out and had developed a cold by this time, so this was a soothing and perfect experience to end my time in NYC. I had empanadas and was treated to the Music of Huang Ruo. Ruo is a composer whose, according to the program i received, “vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese folk, Western avant-garde, rock and jazz to create a seamless, organic integration using a compositional technique he calls ‘dimensionalism’.” All i knew was that i enjoyed it so much, that it ended too quickly for me! I realize that this is the way i like to enjoy my chamber/opera music-with food, a glass of wine, and the ability to take photos, video, and check my phone if i needed to :).

There were 3 different components to the performance: the first was Book of the Forgotten with clarinetist Vasko Dukovski and violist Stephanie Griffin. Next came the Momenta Quartet, who performed String Quartet No. 3: Calligraffiti. Lastly, and my most favorite, was the Momenta Quartet with the Ensemble FIRE (Future in Reverse) with Soprano, Fang Tao Jiang, Tenor Laurence Broderick, and Librettist Candace Chong, performing excerpts from the opera, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. I had never heard this medley of music together before, and i loved the way the sounds came together. Fang Tai Jiang is a powerhouse, and when she opens her mouth, you can’t help but be blown away. Plus, the girl’s got style, her dress was gorgeous!

Rennie Harris/RHAW at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

I read in the APAP guide that this showcase was only a few blocks away, but due to my poor sense of direction,  I wandered the opposite direction so it took a little longer than expected 🙂 I made it to the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, sweating of course, just in time to take in the fact that i was really standing in THE Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

 I sat down in my seat after a long day, feeling totally exhausted, but was immediately transformed by seeing this group, whose energy rejuvenated my spirit immediately. Founded by Rennie Harris, R.H.A.W features street dancers from Philly’s hip-hop community. Taking it back to the basics of House, Boogaloo, Breaking, Popping and Locking, the company fit it all into a 20 minute showcase, featuring an excerpt of Bohemian Rhapsody, 110th St./Brother, and EL Barrio.  My fave was the Queen piece-It was a preview of a dance musical created and choreographed by Harris and was the story of a teenage boy becoming a man. He is considered a daydreamer, and along his quest for love, identity and purpose, he gets pressured to grow up, get a job and be responsible for his actions. He ends up in jail for a crime he did not commit. Learn more about Harris and artistic and community building work he does here: http://www.rhpm.org/

This performance was part of a larger showcase by Jody Kaplan & Associates, which brought 22 different dance companies to the Ailey Theater!  I was also brought to tears by Jennifer Muller’s piece, Tangle, which was explores the tangles of a relationship to a Joni Mitchell ballad.

I was also fortunate to catch Robert Moses’ Kin, who performed excerpts from Cinderella theory, Fable and Faith,  Scrubbing the Dog, and Doscongio.  I wanted to see them because our new Director Michelle was previously  this San Francisco based company’s Executive Director.  I was blown away by the way they moved their bodies, and the choreography was beautifully original, like nothing i have seen before.

These performances came to me at the perfect time, as they provided a calm refuge from the craziness that was my week at APAP, and quieted my spirit, so i could be open to what i was seeing, experiencing, and living in that moment.

Slick Rick at the Brooklyn Bowl

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We  hopped on the L train (my first time) and headed to Brooklyn, where the wonderful Brooklyn Bowl awaited us!  This was a bowling alley, bar, and performance venue all in one place!! My dream come true!  Slick performed all the old cuts, and even did an eye patch change at one point-perhaps because it was his birthday, but he had a beautiful bejeweled eye patch to match his dazzling necklace! A cake was brought out for him, and it was cool to spend Slick’s bday with him. What made it more awesome though, was being able to sing La Di Da Di at the top of my lungs with my friends  in Brooklyn, and pretend for a few moments that it was 1985 again.

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