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Cast Members from AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, WICKED & More Set for BC/EFA's PURE MOTION This Month

A brilliant cast of dancers from Broadway's biggest hits and some of the most sought-after dance companies will bring to life Pure Motion, an evening of dances by emerging choreographer Ray Mercer. Produced by and benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the evening will feature cast members from Broadway's An American in Paris, The Lion King and Wicked as well as past and current dancers from Ailey II, Company XIV, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater and more.

Mercer, winner of Joffrey Ballet's Choreographers of Color Award, is a 13-year veteran of Disney's The Lion King and a prolific NY choreographer. For Pure Motion (#puremotion), he will present seven visually striking contemporary pieces, including two premieres created especially for the event. The evening will feature performances at 7 pm and 8:30 pm on Monday, February 29, 2016, at The Ailey Citigroup Theater (405 West 55th Street) in New York City.

Singer and actress Morgan James will perform live in one of the two premieres. Mercer invited James, who's appeared in four Broadway musicals including Motown: The Musical, after he heard her soulful rendition of The Police's "Roxanne." "I have been a fan of Morgan for many years now," Mercer said. "Her voice is incredibly special and I was instantly inspired when I heard her recreate "Roxanne." I just knew I had to set a work to it."

Spoken-word poet L. Steven Taylor, who's currently appearing as Mufasa in Broadway's The Lion King, will share his gripping verbal artistry in several of the evening's numbers. "Steven is a literary genius," Mercer said. "I know the audience is going to be blown away by his talents."

Clarione Gutierrez will add his live, speed artistry to Mercer's "Dance for Justice," a piece that personifies the struggles of racism and fairness which continue to capture today's headlines.

Dancers scheduled to perform at Pure Motion include Lamar Baylor (The Lion King), Aubree Brown (formerly Ailey II), Randy Castillo (formerly Jessica Lang Dance), Savannah Joy Cobb (Ballet Academy East), Solomon Dumas (formerly Ailey II), Josh D. Green (Wicked), Pia Hamilton (The Lion King), Lindsey Jackson (The Lion King), Jakob Karr (Company XIV, So You Think You Can Dance), Jaysin McCollum (The Lion King), Jon Ole Olstad (formerly Netherlands Dans Theater), Courtney Ortiz, Lauren Perry (formerly Complexions Contemporary Ballet), Willie Smith III (Camille A. Brown & Dancers), Jeffrey C. Sousa (An American in Paris), Kellen Stancil (The Lion King) and Donna Michelle Vaughn (The Lion King). Performers subject to change.

Set for the last day of February, the evening will also provide a celebratory closure to Black History Month in New York.

Tickets range from $40-$250 and are available at broadwaycares.org or by calling 212.840.0770, ext 268. VIP ticket buyers will enjoy a private reception with Mercer and the cast immediately after the 8:30 pm performance. Sponsorship opportunities also are available.

Throughout Mercer's ongoing, 13-year run in The Lion King on Broadway, he has simultaneously created work on the New Jersey Ballet, the Pensacola Ballet, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Philadanco and Ailey II. Mercer also has been a guest artist for the Boston Ballet and has worked with Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin and Garth Fagan. Mercer's dynamic, thought-provoking choreography has won the best onstage presentation award seven times at Broadway Cares' annual Gypsy of the Year and Easter Bonnet Competition.

Pure Motion is generously sponsored by Disney Theatrical Productions, The New York Times and United Airlines.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation's leading industry?based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant?making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $285 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

Broadway Cares is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, and awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states.


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