Tag: Harlem Stage

Harlem Stage in New York Director Simone Eccleston Named Kennedy Center’s 1st Director of Hip-Hop Culture 

Simone Eccleston (photo via nbcwashington.com)

article by Jordan Murray via nbcwashington.com

The Kennedy Center announced their first director of hip-hop culture and contemporary music Wednesday. Simone Eccleston, currently the director of programming at Harlem Stage in New York, will assume the role March 13. Eccleston’s new role will include leading a center-wide commitment to hip-hop culture and contemporary music, which includes R&B, soul, folk and roots, indie, world music and Latin music, according to a release.

Eccleston will also work as a partner with other areas of the Kennedy Center to highlight the collaborative nature of hip-hop music. The program will also aim to increase opportunities for community involvement and participation. Hip-hop is based on five core elements — deejaying, emceeing, break-dancing, graffiti writing and knowledge of self — the Kennedy Center said, all of which build and transform communities through art and action.

“With the Kennedy Center serving as the preeminent home for our nation’s arts and culture, the creation of a programmatic platform for hip-hop culture is deeply significant,” Eccleston said in a statement. She also said hip-hop culture has influenced and contributed to every aspect of American society and helps drive innovation and creative expressions across many different disciplines. “It is also an important catalyst for community building, activism and empowerment.”

Kennedy Center Senior Vice President Robert van Leer said the nature of hip-hop culture can create collaborations with the dance, theater, music and education programs. “We are thrilled to have an arts administrator of Simone’s caliber join us — someone who can lead that exploration of what hip-hop at the Kennedy Center can become in the coming years,” van Leer said in a statement. “And we believe it is the Center’s responsibility to develop and elevate thought-leaders like Simone to champion the bright future of our nation’s cultural institutions.”

Last March, the center appointed MC, rapper and record producer Q-Tip as its first artistic director for hip-hop culture.

To read full article, go to: Kennedy Center Names First Director of Hip-Hop Culture | NBC4 Washington

‘Boyz n the Hood’ Reimagined by Interpretive Dancer Kyle Abraham

Kyle Abraham.jpg

The thirty-five-year-old choreographer Kyle Abraham has come a long way in just a few years. In 2006, he established his company, Abraham.In.Motion, and since then has produced dances that have earned him awards and critical acclaim. In December, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre will première a work that it commissioned from him. For someone whose career has taken off in such a big way, though, he retains a strong connection to his Pittsburgh roots, and shows great integrity in his dance-making, both of which were evident in his newest work, “Pavement,” which Abraham presented recently at Harlem Stage.

Abraham, who is African-American, went to high school in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, a historically black neighborhood, and in several of his previous works he drew on his experiences there. For “Pavement,” he went back to 1991, to reimagine the film “Boyz n the Hood,” about gangs in South Central Los Angeles, which was released that summer. He used the film as a springboard for examining life in Pittsburgh’s African-American communities in the Hill District and East Liberty Homewood and reflecting on the state of the black American experience in the two decades since its release.

But Abraham’s conception was even more sweeping. He also wanted to look at the history that had preceded the strife represented in “Boyz n the Hood,” and found a pertinent source in “The Souls of Black Folk,” the 1903 book by W. E. B. Du Bois, whose essays became instrumental in African-Americans’ struggle for equality in the twentieth century. Du Bois’s text made no appearance in “Pavement,” but Abraham included a quote from it in the program, which hovered over the dance: “Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as a natural defense of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the ‘higher’ against the ‘lower’ races.” In the light of Du Bois’s words from more than a century ago, the realities as depicted in the film are sobering. From the perspective of 1991, when the ravages of H.I.V., crack addiction, and gang genocide were entrenched, not much seems to have gone right.

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