Sunday, May 19, 2013
For as long as I can remember, I have been an ardent admirer of the dance: from ballet to modern, from African to jazz, from hip hop, to ballroom, from salsa, to break-dance – I love it all. I was privileged to see the Dance Theatre of Harlem during their recent
Philadelphia engagement at the .
The audience generously bestowed the company with hearty, sustained applause,
and seemed to genuinely appreciate their artistry. There were, however, some
mixed reactions. One friend who attended the performance found it
“exhilarating” and was still gushing on her way out of the theater. Another
friend thought it was “disappointing,” and while “not awful,” at least
one of the ballets was “just plain boring.” Annenberg Center
As for me, I personally enjoyed the entire evening and still feel energized from the experience. Lovely. Vivacious. Powerful. These are a few of the adjectives I would use to describe the beauty, grace and mastery of this internationally-renowned dance institution, a rare gem with roots in Harlem’s African American community that gives ballet dancers of color an opportunity to pursue professional careers. The company’s school of dance encourages students to pursue excellence on whatever paths their lives take them. Arthur Mitchell, who was the NewYork City Ballet’s first African American principal dancer, was motivated to co-found the company in 1969 with the late Karel Shook, as a way to honor the legacy and uphold the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Virginia Johnson, who was Dance Theatre of Harlem’s prima ballerina for 20 years, now serves as the company’s artistic director. Another former company dancer, Laveen Naidu, is Dance Theatre of Harlem's executive director.
As I sat in the Annenberg’s Zellerbach Theater, I felt grateful to witness the company’s remarkable resurgence following an unprecedented eight year hiatus, during which time the administration concentrated on fundraising and re-organizing. I remember hearing the devastating news that because of a multimillion dollar deficit, they were shuttering their doors, so I felt an almost spiritual obligation to support their revival. Three ballets were presented the night I attended: “Gloria,” choreographed by Robert Garland; the classic “Agon,” choreographed by George Balanchine and “Contested Space” choreographed by Donald Byrd.
With a floaty, fairy-like presence, prepubescent ballerinas opened and closed “Gloria,” a ballet choreographed in the traditional form by Robert Garland. Current resident choreographer and former principal dancer for the Dance Theatre of Harlem,
Garland hails from Philadelphia; he studied
dance under John Hines and Joan Myers Brown. The Mt.
Airy native and Creative and Performing Arts High School graduate propelled
“Gloria” through a series of poetic and lyrical expressive sequences that were performed
with strength and dignity. The spiritual legacy of Harlem inspired the piece,
which Garland dedicated to the Abyssinian Baptist
Church in Harlem,
and its current pastor, the Reverend Calvin Otis Butts, III.
Donald Byrd’s “Contested Space” was the complete antithesis of “Gloria.” I found the choreography invigorating. Its bold, modern aesthetics skillfully combined the restrained technique of ballet with the audacious attitude of hip hop. The piece was a complex inquiry into the meaning of relationships. I was absolutely blown away by the dancers’ amazing ability to showcase their formidable athleticism while portraying a piercing emotional depth.
“Gloria” and Byrd’s “Contested Space” the company performed George Balanchine’s
“Agon” a break through in dance which premiered on December 1, 1957 to the
striking music of Igor Stravinsky. "Agon" was also a break through in race-relations because Arthur Mitchell and a white woman, Diana Adams, danced
in the ballet’s central duet, or pas de deux. The legacy of this masterpiece is
upheld with integrity by the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s current company. So they
truly deserve kudos. And they also deserve props for perpetuating a grand
tradition in dance and African American culture, whose greater mission is to
“build community, inspire and uplift through the power of art.”
Dance Theatre of
Harlem Upcoming Performances:
June 7 & 9, 2013 – Kennedy Center for Performing Arts,
June 18-23, 2013 – Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival,
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
The characters in Little Girl Blue have experienced emotional devastation as well as divine healing. The play confirms there are many types of devastation and healing that are way beyond our control, that come from a higher power.
Devastation from a Force of Nature is a wake-up call for all of us. Today is the day after the wrath of Hurricane Sandy ravaged much of the East Coast of the United States. Prayers, Healing and Blessings to everyone who was affected by this storm - in the United States as well as in the Caribbean.
Lives were lost: Dear God, please bless the deceased and help the families and loved ones who are in grief. Injuries have been inflicted and sustained: Dear God, please deliver a mighty and speedy healing. Property was destroyed: Dear God, please help the families and loved ones gain enough strength and fortitude to rebuild. Power lines are down: God please bless the families who are waiting for their utilities to be restored. Businesses – small and large – have suffered: Dear God, please help revitalize and restore the losses, which are indeed significant.
And please, God, Bless all of the Elected & Government Officials, Military, First Responders, and plethora of Line Workers on the ground who are working around the clock to help restore some semblance of normalcy. Thank you!!!! Thanks to each and every one of you brave soldiers!
As for me, I feel more blessed, and more grateful than ever. I live in Philadelphia, so we were affected. However we have been spared and not affected nearly as severely as other places, such as Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore, New York City and a plethora of other locations along the coastline and surrounding areas. In my own case, I thank God for my sturdy home and its high location, which kept me out of harm’s way. Even though the strong winds blew down a tree on my front yard, I am ever so grateful that it fell away from the house, literally into the branches of another tree, which is currently holding it up. Now that is God’s Grace!
Asante Sana. Peace & Blessings Always
Monday, August 15, 2011
“Little Girl Blue” in New York City!
August 19th – 21st 2011!!!
It’s here! “Little Girl Blue” is in New York City for the International Fringe Festival! Coming to the stage this weekend, I will portray 17 characters in my one woman show! I feel blessed and honored and excited to be reaching this milestone. And so very humbled to be collaborating with the awesome, absolutely phenomenal bassist Warren Oree! Don’t miss this relationship saga. This is a Black woman’s journey to love…..actually it’s a story about Little Girl Blue’s journey to SELF-LOVE. Drama. Tears. Laughter. Courage. Survival. Tragedy. Triumph. Experience the Transformation.
VENUE: Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, NYC 10003
PERFORMANCES:Friday, Aug. 19th – 4:15 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 20th- noon & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 21st – 5:15 p.m. & 9:45 p.m.
TICKETS:$15 General Admission – Purchase online: www.fringenyc.org
Purchase by Phone: 866-468-7619
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
A Woman’s Journey to Self-Love~ ~ Experience the Transformation!
“Little Girl Blue” is my passion. “Little Girl Blue” is my obsession. I’m thrilled to be taking it to the next level. Getting closer to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There just aren’t the words to express how excited I am to announce “Little Girl Blue” is making its New York City Premiere at the 2011 Fringe NYC International Theater Festival.
I portray 17 characters in this stage play, which offers solutions for low self-esteem and emotional distress. Warren Oree, world-renowned bassist, composer, & percussionist, performs an original soundtrack for the production.
Performances are: Friday, Aug. 19th, 4:15 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20th, Noon & 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 21st, 5:15 p.m. & 9:45 p.m., at the Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, NYC, 10003. Tickets are $15, general admission. Purchase tickets online: www.fringenyc.org. Preview the show on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/pheralyn. More info to come as we get closer to opening night!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Producing “Little Girl Blue” is a joy, a pleasure, a passion, a vision. Producing “Little Girl Blue” is a dream come true. Here’s a photo of me in the theater, rehearsing for an upcoming performance, pouring my heart out to an empty house, save for the tech staff. But I promise you - this “performance” is as passionate and powerful as any that I’d charge for, with all the energy and convictions pouring forth from the 17 characters that I portray in this one-woman show.
Believe me, I live each and every day with the tension and intensity associated with “opening night.” Indeed, “Little Girl Blue” is always in the forefront of my mind. Everyday is, in a sense, leading up to opening night. So delivering to my utmost capacity is essential. Even if I am the only one in my audience.
Please understand that everyone will not agree with or support your vision. This is a simple fact of life. But if you don’t get a green light at every turn, does that change the intensity of your vision and your mission to achieve it? Let’s hope not. A rejection is not a defeat. A set back is not a defeat. One “no” doesn’t mean another “yes” isn’t right around the corner.
Recently I was notified that my grant proposal to produce a broadcast quality video of “Little Girl Blue” was rejected. At first I was shocked. I just knew I was getting that grant! Then I was angry. How dare they reject my proposal! Then I was disillusioned. So I called the foundation and asked for the reviewers’ comments. I found them to be ambiguous. So I got in a huff and hung up. Then I realized I shouldn’t give up so quickly on that particular opportunity. I definitely decided to move on with my quest. But in the meantime, I called the foundation back for further explanation of the rejection, and asked for more specific details. Then I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to re-submit, regardless of the outcome. At least in my heart of hearts, I will know that I tried.
Interestingly enough, this is my 5th grant proposal rejection from this very same foundation. Yet each time a new funding cycle approaches, I get tons of emails and phone calls from friends and supporters of “Little Girl Blue” encouraging me to go for this grant because they believe the match is “perfect.” So I keep plugging away. Not just with this grant, but with every idea and every opportunity that presents itself.
My passion for “Little Girl Blue” is unwavering. Mine is not a dream deferred. Mine is a dream come true. I thank the mighty Creator for giving me this vision and turning the dream of “Little Girl Blue” into a reality. The Latin phrase “excelsior” means to reach ever higher, keep moving onward, upward. And so it is: “Excelsior!”
Saturday, March 6, 2010
“Little Girl Blue” is a work in progress that definitely has taken on a life of its own। The 17 characters I portray continue to grow and evolve. My vision for “Little Girl Blue” continues to grow and evolve as well. Through the voice of my character “Wise Woman,” (pictured here), I find that the universe has opened me up to suggestions for what the next logical steps should be. By actively following this quest, I recently attended a very informative and uplifting seminar,
“Get Your Show Off the Ground,” presented by Ken Davenport, Broadway Producer and author of the blog: The Producers’ Perspective. So instead of going forth on autopilot as I usually do this time of year in anticipation of the Philly Fringe Festival coming up in the fall, I am taking a step back to figure out how to expand the horizons (and audience) for the show outside of my comfort zone. As a result of Ken’s seminar, I’ve been exposed to lots of options that I am currently following up on. I have been given fresh wings to fly off in another direction. Can’t wait to see where “Little Girl Blue” lands next.
Asante Sana. Peace & Blessings Always