PORGY AND BESS, Ronald K Brown and More Set for The Ordway's 'African Diaspora in Harmony Initiative'

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts announced today the launch of "Taking Our Place Centerstage: The African Diaspora in Harmony." This special initiative offers enhanced programming that includes master classes and workshops, an art exhibition, social gatherings and cultural conversations to celebrate the rich artistic traditions of communities of African and African American ancestry. The surrounding events are designed to enrich the Ordway's 2013-2014 season of world-class performances by Rennie Harris Puremovement, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Maria de Barros, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, and Step Afrika!.

Also, in partnership with Youthprise and as part of their Black History Month Celebration 2014, the Ordway will host a reception before Maria de Barros' Feb. 19 peformance honoring Naomi Tutu, an international speaker on race and gender justice and daughter of Desmond Tutu. Naomi Tutu will also give a special introduction for Maria de Barros.

As part of the programming, Ronald K. Brown, award-winning choreographer of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, will visit Saint Paul on Feb. 25 for a community reception at the Ordway and education programs at community schools.

The African Diaspora in Harmony program was planned by the Taking Our Place Centerstage (TOPC) Vision Council, whose members examined the opportunities surrounding each artistic performance. The Vision Council connected with community leaders, business leaders and media partners to curate this series of arts-based learning and engagement programs from January-June 2014 to increase cross-cultural understanding and promote the awareness of the vibrant Afro-centric cultural heritage in the Twin Cities.

"The African Diaspora in Harmony, managed by dancer and choreographer Leah Nelson, offers a wonderful opportunity to experience the work of African artists from around the world and the Twin Cities and to extend the art beyond the stage," said Robin Hickman, program director for TOPC and CEO of SoulTouch Productions. "The Ordway is walking with the community in presenting these experiences and performances. We are working together to create an exciting array of events that can open up minds and hearts."

The Ordway's TOPC program began in October 2010 in partnership with communities of African and African American ancestry. The initiative, led by Program Director Robin P. Hickman and Program Manager Leah Nelson, is committed to artistic, educational and economic engagement. TOPC Vision Council members are Mahmoud El Kati, Titilayo Bediako, Andrea Jenkins, Tom Gitaa, Nneka Onyilofor, Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Shegitu Kebede, Maria Isa Perez, Marcus Pope and Sherine Crooms Onukwuwe.

"We have such a creative and energetic team behind this program," said Patricia Mitchell, president and CEO of the Ordway. "Throughout this season, we are all on a journey that inspires, uplifts, and entertains - a journey made possible through artistic and education programming designed and executed in partnership with community leaders and artists."

The African Diaspora refers to the communities throughout the world that are descended from the historic movement of peoples from Africa, predominantly to the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, among other areas around the globe.

A complete listing of Taking Our Place Centerstage: The African Diaspora in Harmony programs and events follows.

ABOUT THE ORDWAY CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS: The Ordway is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading nonprofit performing arts centers and Saint Paul's most elegant and inviting performance space. The Ordway's Music Theater and soon-to-be completed Concert Hall attract diverse audiences with an array of productions showcasing the finest in American musical theater, world music, dance and vocal performance. Education and community engagement are integral to the Ordway's mission, with major initiatives including the annual Flint Hills International Children's Festival and Ordway Education programs that serve more than 50,000 students annually. The Ordway also sponsors the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a professionally guided academic and artistic environment that trains aspiring pre-professional performing artists. Together with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and The Schubert Club, the Ordway is a member of the Arts Partnership and serves as the principal venue for their performances. ordway.org




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