Philadanco Returns to The Joyce Theater, Closes 4/3
PHILADANCO, the Philadelphia Dance Company, hot on the heels of a celebratory 40th Anniversary season, will return to The Joyce Theater for a week-long engagement this spring from March 29 - April 3. The program will include the world premiere of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner by Ray Mercer, the New York premiere of Christopher L. Huggins' Bolero Too!, created in honor of the company's 40th Anniversary; the Joyce premiere of By Way of Funk by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and finishing off the program will be audience favorite Enemy Behind the Gates, also by Huggins. Tickets range from $10 to $49 and are available by calling JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800 or via the internet at www.Joyce.org. The Joyce Theater is located at 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street in Chelsea.
Applauded for its dazzling style, technically flawless movement and devotion to preserving predominantly African-American traditions in dance, PHILADANCO arrives at The Joyce with works by stellar contemporary choreographers: the world premiere of Ray Mercer's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, based on the iconic film starring Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn; By Way of the Funk, a new work by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar that harnesses the energy and culture of funk music; the New York premiere of Christopher L. Huggins' Bolero Too!, a full-company piece set to a powerful musical score by Ravel and carved by Huggins with a choreographic Spanish flare, created in honor of the company's 40th Anniversary. The final piece on this stellar program will be the award-winning audience favorite Enemy Behind the Gates, returning by popular demand, also by Huggins who created it in 2002 for PHILADANCO.
ABOUT THE CHOREOGRAPHERS
JAWOLE WILLA JO ZOLLAR (By Way of Funk). Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar trained with Joseph Stevenson, a student of the legendary Katherine Dunham. After earning her B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, she moved to New York City in 1980 to study with Dianne McIntyre at Sounds in Motion. Four years later, she founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) in 1984 as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. Jawole received her M.F.A in dance from Florida State University and is the Nancy Smith Fichter tenured professor in FSU's Dance Department. In addition to the 33 works created for Urban Bush Women, Jawole's choreography is part of the repertory of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Ballet Arizona, University of Maryland, University of Florida and others. Jawole burst onto the scene and made an indelible mark on the field by challenging assumptions about body types, styles of movement, appropriate content and the role of community in creation. Still dancing, she is an innovator and a vanguard of dance. Jawole was invited to participate in a meeting the White House convened on using creative and collaborative approaches to community-building and civic engagement.
Ray Mercer (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner). Omaha Nebraska native, Ray Mercer is presently in the Broadway cast of The Lion King. He began his dance training at the University of New Orleans, furthered his studies with Deeply Rooted Theater (Chicago, IL) and at the Alvin Ailey American Dance School and Broadway Dance Center (New York City). Ray was a company member of The Detroit City Dance Company, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and was a guest artist with Boston Ballet and Joel Hall Dancers. He has taught extensively for schools and community outreach programs including the Alvin Ailey Summer Camp Program, the Joffrey Ballet Educational Program and the National High School Dance Exchange. He is the recipient of The Michigan Dance Council Award and Chicago's Black Theater Alliance Award. Ray has served as resident choreographer for the All-City Dance Companies in Detroit and Chicago. His choreography has been commissioned by Dallas Black Dance Theater, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and DRA:Dancers Responding to Aids/New York. Ray has worked with Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, Stephanie Mills, Kevin "Iega" Jeff, George Faison and Louis Johnson.
CHRISTOPHER L. HUGGINS (Bolero Too! & Enemy Behind the Gates). Christopher L. Huggins is a former member of the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT). Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Huggins trained under Andrea Herbert Major, Danny Sloan and Martha Gray. He attended SUNY Purchase, The Julliard School and was a fellowship student at The Ailey School. Huggins appeared as a guest artist for several dance companies in the United States and abroad. As a master teacher and choreographer, he works in Europe, Japan, Korea and throughout the United States. He has taught countless master classes and workshops at several universities and dance institutions including Howard University in Washington, D.C., Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Huggins has created ballets for numerous companies including Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Ailey II, Philadanco, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Broadway Dance Center of Tokyo, Oslo Dance Ensemble in Norway. He is a 2002 and 2008 recipient of the Ira Aldridge Award for Best Choreography from the Black Theatre Alliance in Chicago for his work Enemy Behind the Gates and Pyrokinesis. He also worked on several projects for Disney in Orlando, Florida. Huggins is a silver medalist from the Seoul International Contemporary Dance Competition, resident choreographer at Duke Ellington High School for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and served as Artist-in-Residence for The Ailey School in 2009. He was the choreographer for the 50th Anniversary Opening Night Gala for the AAADT and most recently choreographed Anointed, which had its world premiere during Ailey's 2010 City Center season. Huggins is currently a faculty member at The Ailey School.
The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) founded by Joan Myers Brown in 1970, is a modern contemporary dance company that tours nationally and internationally. For 40 years, the company has traveled the country and the world, performing before sold-out audiences of diverse people of all ages, creed, ethnicity and cultural traditions. PHILADANCO has a history of being a trailblazer, the pilot dance company to be part of the State of Pennsylvania, Comprehensive Education Training Act, arts training program. It is one of the first companies to hire dancers on a 52 week salary, the first to own housing for the dancers and the first to own a debt-free facility. It is also the company which founded the International Conference of Black Dance Companies and International Association of Blacks in Dance which addresses the special needs of the African American dance community in a supportive environment. The company's success can be directly attributed to its quality programs, which are comprised of five major components: The Professional Performing Company; the 40 week Instruction and Training Program; 6 week Summer Training program; D/2 (Danco2); and D/3 (Danco3). Each program is run at peak efficiency and includes classes in ballet, modern, jazz and African dance, taught by internationally known guest choreographers and dance teachers.
The professional company tours more than any Philadelphia cultural organization, performing as many as 50-60 concerts and 45 residencies annually. The New York Times critic, Jennifer Dunning stated that PHILADANCO is "A company of happy, invigorating contrast...a venerable institution...but has not lost its youthful verve or the freshness of its strong technical grounding."
Over the years PHILADANCO has trained thousands of dancers. The impact of the caliber of training the dancers receive, reaches far beyond the local dance community. The Instruction and Training Program consists of 40 weeks of intensive training in various dance techniques by nationally renowned teachers in ballet, jazz, modern and distinct techniques such as Dunham, Horton, and Graham. Each participant is selected by open auditions monitored by teachers, supporters and staff. They also receive free of charge, dancewear including shoes, counseling when needed and mentoring by members of the company. Instruction and Training participants experience a wide range of opportunities to learn, work and perform.
PHILADANCO will perform according to the following schedule at The Joyce Theater from March 29 - April 3: Tuesday & Wednesday at 7:30pm; Thursday & Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 2pm & 7:30pm. Tickets range from $10 - $49 (for Joyce Members $37 is top price), and can be arranged by calling JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800 or online at www.Joyce.org. NOTE: Ticket prices are subject to change. For more information about PHILADANCO, please visit www.philadanco.org. The Joyce Theater is located at 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street.