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August Wilson Center - Front & Center - “Amplifying African American Voices”

DANCING TO THE TOP!

Posted in Greer Reed -Artistic Director, Dance Initiatives on November 7th, 2011 by Pamela Collier – Be the first to comment

Greer ReedThe August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble (AWCDE) is breaking new ground and becoming a household name all over the country. After being a featured artist for the SummerStage Series in July 2011, AWCDE starts its second season.


What better way to begin a dance season than with world renowned choreographer Sidra Bell.  Captivating, edgy, and creative Sidra is the new avant garde trend setter of dance works. The AWCDE welcomed Sidra with open arms really diving into her creative process and being open to new ideas. Each company member was forced to go outside their box and explore a world of dance that is completely fearless, both mentally and physically. Exposing the company to find its vulnerable side, Sidra pushed the dancers to find new ways of experimenting and creating throughout the piece. The work will be performed for The Dynamic Women of Dance performance March 9-10. Below is a link to see the company in action during the creative process. http://vimeo.com/28637837


AWCDE took on another amazing female choreographer Kiesha Lalama. From film to live theatre work, Kiesha is at the top of her game in the dance world.  The piece entitled “Torque” confronts the social and economic issues of today’s society. The company took on the challenge and captivates the audience with their rawness and strength. This piece will inspire and influence change to make a difference. “Torque” will also be performed for the Dynamic Women of Dance performance.


So you Think They Can’t Dance? Well Elisa Sanders and Michael Bagne surely can.  The AWCDE took on the challenge to strut their stuff with some of  Pittsburgh’s influential  leaders. The August Wilson Center’s annual fundraiser was a success and one that is enjoyable to watch every year. Winning the choreography award was Emmai Alaquiva and Ashley Kostelnik.


The August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble worked hard getting ready to share the stage with Alvin Ailey 2, Rennie Harris PureMovement, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and Deeply Rooted for the Black Dance Festival November 4-6.  AWCDE performed “Regality” by Darrell Grand Moultrie and “Function” by Kyle Abraham.

Spinning Standing Still

Posted in General on February 10th, 2011 by Christiane D – Be the first to comment

Spinning Standing Still re-released

Available (finally) now!
Spinning Standing Still
10 years ago poet/painter Eden McNutt and I created this book of devotional dialogues, utilizing the Exquisite Corpse technique for writing and painting.

So, Lovely Friends, for a limited print run, order your copy now! From now to February 14th, $ 17.95 + shipping & handling.

After February 14th, books will be available at Awesome Books, 5111 Penn Avenue, PGH, PA 15224.

Payments can be received through PayPal or contact me to make other payment arrangements.

Foreword by Bob Ziller
Here are the postcards of two travelers in the land of Love.
You’ll recognize some of these cities, snapshots of Longing, Fear, & Comfort.Other places may startle you … like the port of Courage, just past the straits of Lust …
here we see the Bridge of Trust from a unique angle … and the cliffs of Desire,
overlooking the hills of Fulfillment … here, over a field of wildflowers,
a pair of butterflies with paper wings circle each other … whispering …
and this is what they are saying …

Interview on Prosody-WYEP, featuring Christiane D

Posted in AWC Past-Fellows, General on February 10th, 2011 by Christiane D – Be the first to comment
Editor’s Note: Christiane D is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).

CLICK TO LISTEN!

CLICK TO LISTEN!

WYEP’s weekly show featuring the work of poets and writers.

Prosody-91.3 WYEP

Mangrove Compilation - a musical journey

Posted in AWC Past-Fellows, General on February 10th, 2011 by Christiane D – Be the first to comment
Editor’s Note: Christiane D is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).

MKL

For those of you who may remember my stint with the Afro-Brasilian House music project, 3 Generations Walking, DJ MKL presents a beautiful compilation to satisfy! The recently released Mangrove compilation features a song I did with my band Soma Mestizo and many other delicious grooves.

As DJ/Producer describes it:
One minute you could be in a bar in far flung colonial outpost, watching a brown
skinned beauty shake her well toned limbs to the ethno (French, Spanish, Afro)
trumpet laced percussive grooves of “To Dub”, while the next sipping an
overpriced drink with beautiful types in Paris to the minimalist electronica of “En
Jaguar Beige”.

Pack your passport, your sunglasses and dancing shoes and prepare for a
musical journey!

Christiane D

Beauty has arrived

Posted in AWC Past-Fellows on December 14th, 2010 by Christiane D – Be the first to comment
Editor’s Note: Christiane D is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).

In the mail and now in my hands are the IR 25 cds. Stunning and glossy.

Words, music and dub fighting for Indigenous rights!

IR25 Dubversive is dub, roots reggae fused with Native American and Indigenous cultures, underlaid with conscious lyrics.

IR25 Dubversive is dub, roots reggae fused with Native American and Indigenous cultures, underlaid with conscious lyrics.

I am honored to be a part of such an important music project.

Even more honored that our song, “ivere…the land” opens up the long list of amazing tracks of talented musicians from across the globe.

A song I was asked to write describing deforestation and destruction.

IR 25

We enter. We work. We disappear.

Mad Dub Love to Kakonda, Olovotu and Soy Sos! and whole IR crew.

Slaves, Sugar and Rum - offCenter performance

Posted in AWC Past-Fellows, General on December 6th, 2010 by Christiane D – Be the first to comment

screen-shot-2010-12-06-at-115715-am

Editor’s Note: Christiane D is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).

Slaves, Sugar and Rum

Ken Foley and I perform as a duo at last year’s offCenter at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh. The poem was originally commissioned by Mary Martin and performed the Heinz History Center with my father on keys. It’s about the history and influence of Jazz. beginning in Africa and ending in America. Video by Shawnee Lake. This is but an excerpt.

Enjoy!

Running with my eyes closed

Posted in AWC Past-Fellows, General on December 6th, 2010 by Christiane D – Be the first to comment
Editor’s Note: Christiane D is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).

This weekend I am experiencing a fantastic opportunity to deconstruct my performance style and learn something wonderful and new. My friend Tavia LaFollete has invited me to participate in a weekend long Performance Art workshop with the amazing Guillermo Gomez-Pena. I saw him perform at the Mattress Factory 2 years ago and remembered wanting to stand on my seat and scream hell yeah!

Christiane D

I hadn’t seen anything that moving since I saw Karen Finley at Carnegie Mellon University.

I spent much of yesterday ridding myself of preconcieved notions, stopping myself from trying to “get” something out of it; just making myself an empty vessel, ready to be malleable and open for whatever.

We have danced like monkeys with hydraulic legs, explored the room with eyes closed, gazed into

each others eyes and created human sculptures. Each ancient exercise bringing you deeper and closer to being present, not representing a presence, as Gomez-Pena says.

It’s akin to standing at the latest roller coaster with excitement and terror. This mixture is what it feels like to stretch yourself and do something new and challenging. Much like being a Fellows. You have an idea of what you want to do and achieve, but each experience along the journey reshapes the original idea, sometimes taking you to surprising places.

Bobby, Bobby, Bobby—Porter-my home grown black rock ‘n’ roll Hero!

Posted in AWC Past-Fellows, General on November 20th, 2010 by Christiane D – Be the first to comment
Editor’s Note: Christiane D is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).

Before I even begin talking about me and/or my project, I want to share someone who has been quite an inspiration, who has passed on in this life. The rock ‘n’ roll punk legend that is Bobby Porter.Bobby Porter

I recently watched the Afro-Punk documentary and only then did I realize how lucky I was to have been rocked by the powerful tides of a strong Black Rock scene.

In comparison, there were many of us when I only thought there had only been a few. There was Mad Mike, Monette, Alicia, Big Lee, and then there was Bobby Porter.

Bobby would get my underage behind into shows as his roadie. I remember carrying drums for his band-mate, as I scooted past with my blonde and shaved head, big boots and the proverbial black gear. I’d pick a spot, sit and drink shirley temples. Yes, that is what I drank, I knew even then, that if I got caught drinking, it would screw it up for Bobby and his generosity and screw with the venue that actually supported high powered (scary) rock. I was addicted to music not to being a cutesy groupie.

What I witnessed, I still to this day wonder if I saw it.

The stage was a small riser, flanked by wooden balconies. Bobby was belting a powerful rage as he not only jumped up on the balcony, running back n forth with mike in hand, he Christiane Dat some point did a back flip, while still singing and landed better than any gymnast — a perfect landing on the balcony to then jump off and rage into the audience.

I knew then, dayam, he was my home grown black rock ‘n’ roll Hero! I had been touched and inspired by the spirit and gospel of Bobby.

Every time I have raged on the stage, it has been in honor of that first influence. It didn’t come off a record, or from a book, it was an experience that I could witness in my city, touch, feel, inhale it!

Thank you for feeding my rock addiction and for inspiring me. You may have passed on to the universe but you will always live in my heart. May the angels comfort you.

Christiane D

Journey’s Beginning

Posted in AWC Past-Fellows, General on November 20th, 2010 by Amanda – Be the first to comment
Editor’s Note: Amanda Lewis is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).

My name is Amanda Lewis, and this being my first blog as an August Wilson Center  Fellow what can I say but what an exciting time. I have spent many years in school studying western classical music as well as the history and/or influence of genres from all over the world. As a musician it’s extremely important to understand the funAmanda Lewisction of music. As an artist its important to understand how it touches and reaches people. There are some cultures in the world that believe these two, the function and art are one and the same. I tend to agree.

I also feel that too often people try to polarize music like they do so many other things. People want music to belong to someone or some group which is an idea I passionately fight against. It has been my dream to read and explore music that may not be on the radar of most but is still just as beautiful and deserving to be studied. My fellowship project is about highlighting the contributions of African Americans in “western style classical music”. There is so much music and so much material that you just don’t hear, and it is my hope that one day people talk about the music that happened to be written by African Americans, rather than it being performed only because it was written by African Americans. There is some music I’ve had great difficulty tracking down for this project but in the end I know I will be better informed and better armed to share amazing music with the world, which is really all I ever want to do in life. If I do nothing for the rest of my life but explore, learn, and share I’ll want for nothing more …. and so it begins.

Amanda Lewis

REVIEW: In My Father’s House

Posted in Exhibitions, General, Guest Posts, Review on September 12th, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment
This past weekend, we opened the first exhibit we ever commissioned,  In My Father’s House. It’s been years in the making–but well worth the wait. Underwritten by UPMC, with additional support from FedEx, it is a mixed-media exhibition designed as five rooms in a house. Each room highlights a distinct approach to preserving and displaying the visual art and material culture of people of African descent.  The rooms tell the story of a fictional Pittsburgh family, their hopes, dreams, struggles and triumphs. Guest blogger Ada Gay Griffin, director of annual giving at The Center, took what she thought would be a few moments to check out the new exhibit. Ada sings praises of the entire exhibit, but in this blog pays homage to the exhibit’s last room, titled “From Drums to Zeros and Ones.”

Inside "In My Father's House"

Inside "In My Father's House"

“From Drums to Zeros and Ones” is a multichannel video installation commissioned by the August Wilson Center for African American Culture for its newest exhibit, In My Father’s House, which opened September 11, 2010. The 8-minute anthem, created by award-winning documentary filmmaker Demetria Royals, is projected in a modern, dimly lit media room decorated with comfy seats and subtle electronic media references.The room and video have the same name.  Here, Royals (Mama’s Push Cart, Conjure Woman) invokes America’s complex heritage of repression, pitted against the intellectual muscle, political action, and sublime creativity wielded by intrepid African Americans resisting the horrors of Middle Passage and its lasting impact.

Culturally-literate, historically-informed and pop-afflicted, this is an emotionally riveting video poem, connecting multiple themes and powerful messages of culture consciousness and social change through media clips, a James Baldwin interview, and a stylized chronolography.

Depicting centuries of repression, struggle and achievement, the mini-documentary is a welcome tribute to both the embattled and the inspired. Images and commentary of 20th century innovators pop up unexpectedly. Text fades in and out, or tracks across the screen. I whisper the names of each fleeting image I recognize - Ethel Waters, Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey, Phyllis Hyman, Shirley Chisholm…”unbought and unbossed.” The musical parody of the Wings’ hit classic Let ‘Em In at first seems more silly than profound as it sweeps over speeches, sound bites and brief shots of trailblazers that flicker by. All of a sudden, the enduring duality of African American experiences and expressions, represented throughout the entire exhibit, clicks in. And it feels just right.

Sorcerer’s Village, Romare Bearden, Serigraph, 1972

Sorcerer’s Village, Romare Bearden, Serigraph, 1972

The fifth and final installation in the 5-room exhibit, “From Drums to Zeros and Ones” is an appropriate finale for In My Father’s House. The total exhibit is brimming with masterpieces by Romare Bearden, spectacular photography, African American paintings, African masks and fabrics, an experimental video, as well as period furnishings, chosen by, and in some instances created by, the five curators responsible for assembling the meticulously researched art and artifacts placed in each of the rooms.  This is an exhibit for everyone and well worth the price of bus fare, parking, or a skipped lunch on a Saturday or weekday afternoon. One of the messages here is that regardless of your class, color, age, or education, any lived-in environment can be seen as a gallery of memories and of aspirations, depicted in objects of many forms, collected and displayed because they are important, because they are beautiful. Visit the August Wilson Center soon.

Ada Gay Griffin

Editor’s Note: In My Father’s House will be up through July 2011 at The Center, 980 Liberty Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh. Hours are 11 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students and free ages 5 and under and members. For information, call 412.258.2700 or visit AugustWilsonCenter.org.