Gelan Lambert of FELA! Speaks at WEAM Today
What is anticipated to be an extraordinary evening of an homage to both Black History Month and the legendary international star, Josephine Baker, is scheduled for tonight, February 4, at 7 P.M., when Gelan Lambert, Miami-born star of the Broadway musical hit, FELA!, will be guest speaker at the World Erotic Art Museum WEAM), 1205 Washington Avenue.
Lambert, who plays the role of JK (rhythm tapper) in FELA!, which opens a limited run, Tuesday, March 19-Sunday, March 24, at the Adrienne Arsht Center, was cited by New York Times' Ben Brantley as "the brilliant tap dance artist suigeneris." It was his work in FELA! on Broadway that led him to international fame as he played FELA! to captivated audiences in London, Amsterdam and Nigeria as well as throughout the U.S. and Canada. FELA!
Of Haitian descent and a YoungArts Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Lambert graduated the Juilliard School with a BFA in Dance, trained at the Ailey School, Broadway Theater Project, The Joffrey School of American Ballet and appeared with the Martha Graham Dance Theater. He was in the first national tour of "Fosse," has danced in concerts at Jacob's Pillow, was a resident artist at the Stella Adler Studio, and has performed the works of Alvin Ailey, Hinton Battle, Jose Limon, Donald McKayle and Reginal Yates.
Tagged "The Bottom, The Derriere and The Nyash," Lambert will be speaking to the dichotomies of two very different personalities, Josephine Baker and Fela Kuti, the former born in America and later to become an expatriate to Paris, and Fela a native son of Nigeria, dogged all his musical life by music producers and promoters to relocate but never did. Using their sensuality as power, Lambert views both of their life actions as a tonic to their fans and a scorn to their critics. Josephine became the darling of a foreign country that called her "one of us," Fela Anikulapo Kyuti, a rugged in your face rebel.
"Both of their spirits live on," declares Lambert," Changing our schooled way of seeing movement and hearing music. One with a beat, two with a banana."
Long before she was to become "The Toast of Paris," via her provocative "Banana Dance," Baker had made her electrifying presence known as the star of the "Follies Bergere." "La Baker," as she was soon to be known, had experienced a dismal childhood as she fought and resisted racial bigotry and segregation. In September, 1915 at 19, she left New York for France where her flamboyant talents to amuse and delight grew into a personal conflict for her love of Paris and loyalty to her country, best expressed by her emotionally conflicted signature song, "J'ai Deux Amour," "I Have Two Loves." She later added to her worldwide mystique as a fearless opponent of oppression who risked her life for the French Resistance during World War II.
A great admirer of the legendary performer, WEAM owner Naomi Wilzig has consistently sought and collecTed Baker memorabilia, including posters, statues, press clippings and films. Baker's most popular recordings, screened throughout the run, will be such treasured Baker films as "Tam Tam" and "Zou Zou.
The World Erotic Art Museum is located at 1205 Washington Avenue. Open Monday-Thursday, 11 A.M. to 10 P.M.; Friday and Saturday, 11 A.M. to Midnight. Tickets are $15, no one under 18 admitted. Information (305) 532-9336 or via www.weam.com.