Dance sensation Ronald K. Brown and Evidence perform March 6 & 7
February 22, 2009
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? At 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7, in the Middlebury College Kevin P. Mahaney '84 Center for the Arts Dance Theatre, contemporary dance sensation Ronald K. Brown will return to Middlebury to perform with his dance company, Evidence. They last appeared here in 2004.
The performance, titled "One Shot," is an exuberant new work inspired by the life and art of African American photojournalist Charles "Teenie" Harris. From 1936 to 1975, the Pittsburgh-based photographer chronicled life in the Hill District for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the country's oldest African-American newspapers. His 40-year career with the Pittsburgh Courier began as the nation emerged from the Depression and ended with the Civil Rights Movement and his archive of more than 80,000 images is the largest known collection of photographs documenting African-American life in the world. Harris was known as "One Shot" because he was able to get his picture in just one take. This dance performance evokes the idea of having one shot in life and, using the music of Phyllis Hyman, Billy Strayhorn, and other jazz masters, offers a series of "shots" or vignettes with Harris' stunning photos as a backdrop.
Brown, a Brooklyn-born choreographer and dancer, founded the New York-based contemporary dance company Evidence in 1985. In addition to his work with Evidence, Brown has created works for the African American Dance Ensemble, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Jeune Ballet d'Afrique Noire. He has collaborated with artists such as Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya, Craig G. Harris, Ernie McClintock's Jazz Actors Theater, Patricia Hoffbauer and Rokiya Kone, Robert Een, Oliver Lake, Bernadette Speech, David Simons and Don Meissner. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Choreography, a National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer's Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in choreography, New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie), a Black Theater Alliance Award, the American Dance Festival Humphrey/Weidman/Limón Award, and fellowships from the Edward and Sally van Lier Fund. Brown was also named Def Dance Jam Workshop Mentor of the Year in 2000, and in 2003 received an AUDELCO (Black Theatre Award) for "Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats," originally produced by the McCarter Theater and presented off-Broadway in 2003. In fall 2006 Brown received The United States Artists Rose Fellowship.
"The choreographer Ronald K. Brown is something of an archaeologist," wrote a reviewer for the New York Times in 2008. "In his dances - poetic structures of great subtlety and force - there is a sense of a singular artist digging for a forgotten treasure."
As a dance company, Evidence focuses on the seamless fusion of traditional African dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word. Brown uses movement as a way to reinforce the importance of community in African American culture and to acquaint audiences with the beauty of traditional African forms and rhythms. He is an advocate for the growth of an African American dance community and is instrumental in encouraging young dancers to choreograph and to develop careers in dance.
"I hope that when people see the work their spirits are lifted. I am interested in sharing perspectives through modern dance, theater and kinetic storytelling. I want my work to be evidence of these perspectives," says Brown.
Evidence tours more than 30 communities in the U.S. and has traveled overseas to Cuba, Brazil, England, France, Greece, Hungary, Mexico and Senegal to perform, teach master classes and conduct lectures and demonstrations for young people. Evidence brings arts education and cultural and historical connections to local communities that have historically lacked these experiences.
This performance is sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series and the Middlebury College Dance Program. The Mahaney Center for the Arts Dance Theatre is located on South Main Street (Route 30). Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors. For tickets, call the Middlebury College Box Office at 802-443-6433. Online tickets and information are available at www.middlebury.edu/arts.