In honor of Black History Month, New York City Center proudly presents encore performances of three commissions from dynamic artists who use their work to explore the experience of being Black in America. Each of these works premiered in October 2020 during New York City Center’s first digital Fall for Dance Festival filmed live on stage and will be accessible to all for free during the month of February here and on City Center’s YouTube channel.
With a range of styles that link the past and present, these artists command the stage with powerful movements that tell personal stories of joy, struggle, and triumph. The thought-provoking pieces include to be seen, choreographed by founding Artistic Director of A.I.M Kyle Abraham, performed by American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Calvin Royal III; Lady Swings the Blues, conceived, created, and performed by world-renowned tap dancer Dormeshia; and Morani/Mungu (Black Warrior/Black God) from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts.
Throughout Black History Month and beyond, we invite you to discover the causes and organizations serving the African American community that are championed by these inspired artists.
Black History Month brings hope and remembrance to so many who’ve felt unseen or unheard for so long. It’s a commemorating acknowledgement that honors our strides and successes. Moreover, it is an inspiring envisioning of a future where our contributions and our worth extend well beyond the 28 days of the month of February.
Kyle Abraham encourages you to learn more about these causes and organizations:
to be seen
Choreography by Kyle Abraham in collaboration with Calvin Royal III and Taylor Stanley
Music: Boléro by Maurice Ravel, from Ravel: Bolero / Daphnis Et Chloë. London Symphony Orchestra. Classical © 1995 Arts Music GMBH
Featuring Calvin Royal III of American Ballet Theatre
World Premiere City Center Commission: October 26, 2020
Black History Month is not just a time to remember and pay homage to our history. It should also remind us of the work that lies ahead. We look back so that we know how to move forward effectively, with humility, strength, grace, and spirit.
Dormeshia encourages you to learn more about these causes and organizations:
Conceived, created, and performed by acclaimed tap dancer Dormeshia, Lady Swings the Blues embraces the glorious interplay between genres of music birthed by Black culture. This work honors the generations of Black women whose essential contributions to the art form of tap dance have largely remained under the radar.
Lady Swings the Blues
Conception and Improvography by Dormeshia
Musical Arrangements by Dormeshia in collaboration with Noah Garabedian (bass), Winard Harper (drums), and Gabriel Roxbury (djembe)
Accompanied by Noah Garabedian, Winard Harper, and Gabriel Roxbury
World Premiere City Center Commission: October 26, 2020
This work is a meditation on the duality of what it is to be Black in this country. To move through the world as somewhat of a warrior, always fighting for equality, justice, and peace. Yet at the heart of the fight is the omnipotent hope, faith, and love of a God.
Jamar Roberts encourages you to learn more about these causes and organizations:
Morani/Mungu (Black Warrior/Black God)
Choreography by Jamar Roberts
Music: “Black Is” by The Last Poets; “The Drum Thing” by John Coltrane, recorded by Johnathan Blake, Dezron Douglas, and Jaleel Shaw; and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Nina Simone
World Premiere City Center Commission: October 21, 2020
These works were commissioned by New York City Center for the Fall for Dance Festival.
2020 Fall for Dance Festival produced by New York City Center and Nel Shelby Productions in association with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library.
Featured in both Kinfolk and O, The Oprah Magazine, 2018 Princess Grace Statue Award recipient and Lincoln Center Education Artist in Residence Kyle Abraham is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and a 2016 Doris Duke Awardee who began his dance training in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before receiving his BFA from Purchase College and his MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Abraham is in his fifth year as a Visiting Professor in Residence at UCLA and is the Artistic Director of A.I.M, acclaimed NY-based company of dancers from various disciplines and diverse personal backgrounds. In addition to performing and developing new works for A.I.M in 2019, he also choreographed and premiered The Bystander for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Only The Lonely for Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Company, and Ash, a new solo work for American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland for the 2019 Fall for Dance Festival to rave reviews. In 2011, OUT magazine labeled Abraham as the “best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama.” He was a 2015 New York City Center Choreography Fellow.
Dormeshia is a two-time Bessie Award winner (performer and choreographer), and Princess Grace Statue Award and Astaire Award recipient. Her Broadway credits include After Midnight, Black and Blue, and Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk!, including the international tour (dance captain, principal, lead). Her film credits include TAP with Gregory Hines, Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (assistant choreographer/actress), and The Rise and Fall of Miss Thang, for which she received a nomination for Best Lead Actress. Some of Dormeshia’s choreography credits include Michael Jackson’s Rock My World, and The Blues Project (co-choreographer). Dormeshia continues her artistic journey with the first full-length work And Still You Must Swing: a celebration of tap dance, jazz music, the connection between the two, and their African roots.
Noah Garabedian holds a BA in Ethnomusicology from the University of California Los Angeles, and a Master's in Music Performance from New York University. In 2006 he was awarded a John Coltrane National Scholarship, and in 2007 he was selected as a finalist for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz graduate program. In March of 2011, Garabedian was selected to participate in Brad Mehldau's master class at the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, and in June of that same year, he was selected as a finalist in the ISB Double Bass Competition. In November of 2016, he received a Fulbright Specialist Grant to teach jazz music for one month at Silpakorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand. Garabedian, a native of Berkeley, California, has performed and toured with Ralph Alessi, Ravi Coltrane, and Josh Roseman, as well as on behalf of the US State Department throughout Asia and the Middle East.
Winard Harper studied at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and at Howard University and was awarded a scholarship to study jazz under the guidance of Jackie McLean at the University of Hartford. He has played with Betty Carter, Dexter Gordon, and Johnny Griffin. Harper was part of the Young Lions with his brother Philip, and together they formed jazz sensation The Harper Brothers, with five much lauded albums and Billboard 100 positions to their name. He formed his own sextet in 1993, recording seven albums featuring a host of special guests, true to his collaborative approach and the strong desire to showcase jazz greats of all ages. His latest project “Winard Harper & Jeli Posse” continues to record and perform throughout the region.
Jamar Roberts is the resident choreographer of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. A dancer with the company since 2002, Roberts’s first full-length work for the company, Members Don’t Get Weary, premiered at City Center in 2016. In 2019, he premiered his next work, Ode, also at City Center. Roberts set his work Gemeos on Ailey II. A graduate of the New World School of the Arts and The Ailey School, he has danced for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Roberts won the 2016 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performer. He has been commissioned by The Juilliard School Dance Division, the March on Washington Film Festival to create a dance tribute to the honorable John Lewis, and as a Works & Process Virtual Commissioned Artist where he created the acclaimed short work on film, Cooped.
Gabriel Roxbury studied with Sekou O’Hura and Chiku Awali African Dance, Arts & Culture with Makane Koute and Jerry Dzokoto. His credits include Hello from Hollywood at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic featuring Tony Award winner Bryan Stokes Mitchell, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, and the Hudson River Dance Festival. Roxbury has also toured and taught in Ghana, West Africa, and Tempe, Arizona.
Calvin Royal III began his formal dance training at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was a finalist at the Youth America Grand Prix Competition and was awarded the Ethan Stiefel Scholarship to train at ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in 2006. Royal joined ABT II in 2008 and the main company in April 2011. He was promoted to soloist in September 2017 and to principal dancer in September 2020. Royal has been featured in the company's classical repertoire such as Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Apollo, and new works by Kyle Abraham, Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon. Royal was the winner of the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship grant and the July 2020 cover star of Dance Magazine. He was named the 2020–2021 artist-in-residence at the Vail Dance Festival in Vail, Colorado.
LEAD SPONSOR FOR FALL FOR DANCE
MAJOR SUPPORT FOR FALL FOR DANCE
Jody and John Arnhold
SUPPORT FOR NEW DANCE WORKS AT NEW YORK CITY CENTER IS PROVIDED BY
Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation
2020 Fall for Dance Festival photos by Christopher Duggan Photography