651 ARTS Presents EXCUSE ME, HELLO

As part of this year's NYC Pride, Brooklyn's leading organization for the Diasporic Arts, 651 ARTS, is proud to present dynamic entertainer and performance artist Andre J. with their first major presentation, Excuse Me, Hello, a site-specific theatrical installation that celebrates the reinvention of the human spirit through fashion, fun and music. The presentation will have its debut at The Plaza at 300 Ashland on Friday, June 28th as part of a free, outdoor celebration in collaboration with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership before being presented during BAM's Everybooty, one of Brooklyn's most iconic Pride Week parties, at the BAM's Fisher the next day on Saturday, June 29th.

Rounding out 651's Spring 2019 season, Excuse Me, Hello is an interactive experience conceived by Andre J & co-created with and under the direction of Choreographer, Polanco Jones, Jr. for the 2019 WorldPride/NYC celebration. The piece is bold, unapologetic and embraces the concept of showing up as one's most authentic self as well as pays homage to pioneering gay and transgender rights activists of color including Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

"One of the most beautiful parts of artistry is being able to stand firm in the truth, whatever that means to the individual. I love artists like Andre who are exciting and unafraid to share their truth in their work. If you are around Andre for 10 seconds their joy, their truth is contagious," said Raelle Myrick-Hodges. "As an organization that has centered its mission around providing a platform for artists across the Diaspora to tell their stories, it is imperative to me and critical to mission that all of our artists have that opportunity. There are so many wonderful artistic voices in the LGBTQIA community, and we want to ensure that they are heard and seen."

For Friday's presentation of the show at the Plaza at 300 Ashland, Andre will present a family-friendly extension fit for all ages with "Excuse Me, Hello: Stay Fly Butterfly," highlighting themes of acceptance, transformation, and curated specifically with POC/Queer families in mind." Additionally, this free, outdoor event held in collaboration with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, will also include interactive art projects led by featured visual artist Leo Jiminez and his son, yoga classes given by Alicia M. Morris, a conversation with the show's creators and the presenter with and by Antonio Brown aka DJ TonyMonkey.

"As New Yorkers come together to celebrate Pride and remember the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, we are staging two-night theatrical installation of Excuse Me, Hello to celebrate the movement here in 5tDowntown Brooklyn," said Regina Myer, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. "Andre J's performance is all about acceptance and love-messages that capture what Pride is all about. We are excited to bring these bold and beautiful shows to our neighborhood for all to enjoy."

From making history on the cover of Vogue Paris to giving self-esteem boosts to young girls at New York's Lower East Side Girls Club and Hetrick-Martin Institute, New Jersey native Andre J. is a multi-faceted personality and performer. At the beginning of their career, Andre conquered New York's nightlife and fashion world in red lipstick, cat suits and high heels. As a party promoter, entertainer, muse, and personality, they quickly became a City notable and sensation, attracting industry greats such as Patricia Field, Tyra Banks, Joan Rivers, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and the duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Soon thereafter, Andre J. became a global phenomenon when they were featured on the cover of Vogue Paris also making history as the "first Black male model" to grace the cover of the magazine. Andre, who currently splits time between New York and London, has continued to evolve as a performer and entertainer.

"I am just so incredibly honored to bring Excuse Me, Hello to life as part of WorldPride NYC and on the milestone 50th anniversary of Stonewall. All of my work is always rooted in being your most authentic self and with Excuse Me, Hello ,that is especially true because it pays homage to people who really spearheaded the efforts of the concept of living in your truth, the pioneers of the movement like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera," said Andre J. "We would not be here celebrating today without their efforts. I feel like it is up to me and artists like me to hold and carry the torch of their legacy, especially in this time when transgender people are being killed just for being their authentic selves, just for existing. There is still work to do and I am committed to doing it. This performance for me is about celebrating and honoring that journey to the highest level. We are going to show up and show out!"

This year, NYC Pride will highlight WorldPride and marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and a half-century of LGBTQIA+ liberation.

Since its inception in 1988, 651 ARTS has become a trusted convener of contemporary African Diasporic expression and remains committed to championing and supporting emerging artists and providing them with a platform to launch and develop their work. Last year, as it ushered in its 30th Anniversary - marking an important milestone in its rich history - 651 strategically entered a phase of rebuilding. Before moving to a new home at the much-buzzed about cultural spaces at 300 Ashland Place (now known as 10 Lafayette) in the next couple of years, the organization has begun to reimagine its artistic and institutional footprint, preparing 651 for the next 30 years and beyond. The appointment of Raelle Myrick-Hodges as 651's first Creative Director is part of a larger organizational strategy to expand the institution's artistic vision. Following this year's schedule, the organization will continue to aggressively program for 2020.



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