Verb Ballets Program Highlights Recognized African American Choreographers

Verb Ballets Program Highlights Recognized African American Choreographers

Verb Ballets, Northeast Ohio's premiere contemporary ballet company, has brought critically acclaimed performances to Northeast Ohio audiences for over 30 years. In celebration of Black History Month, the company will remount original works commissioned by Verb Ballets from nationally recognized African American choreographers. The performance on February 3, 2018 at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts in Cleveland will feature the work of award winning Philadelphia choreographer, Tommie-Waheed Evans and Cleveland native and former Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company dancer, Antonio Brown. Both choreographers will lead a pre-show discussion at 7:15pm on their experiences in the dance field. To attend the pre-show discussion, please arrive at the Breen Center lobby by 7:10PM. This performance is generously supported by the Cleveland Foundation.

The audience favorite, Dark Matter, returns to the stage by choreographer Tommie-Waheed Evans. Critics described Verb dancers', "sleek encounters that brim with contrasting patterns and connections". This intensely driven physical work was complemented by the stage design with hanging fluorescent light bulbs that were rhythmically controlled providing a breathtaking visual effect by lighting designer' Trad A Burns. Also returning to the stage is Surge.Capacity.Force. which he created on Verb Ballets this past summer. This modern work is moving a reflection on the human experience and the complex struggles of immigration. Evans was a former dancer with PHILADANCO! and Complexions Contemporary Ballet before starting his own company Waheed Works in 2006. He received 2017 Philadelphia Tribune's "10 under 40" Honoree Award and was selected nationally as an emerging leader by Dance/USA. Evans strives to create work built upon the human experience to connect audiences through a fierce physical language while communicating statements about social justice. The Dance Journal described his work as, "vocabulary is deeply rooted in a classical ballet aesthetic blended with modern sensibilities and jazz influences."

Also featured on the program will be two original commissions by Antonio Brown, a former Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company dancer. The Cleveland native and graduate of the Cleveland School of the Arts recently retired from dancing to focus on his company Antonio Brown Dance, whose works have been performed across the U.S. including NYC Summer Stage. The company will restage Continuum, a contemporary work that intertwines patterns and bodies for a visually vivacious performance. Critics hailed the Verb Ballets performance of his work as, "nothing can restrain the thrust that the Verb cast lavishes on Brown's exuberant brainstorm". Also, on the program will be Passing By, an abstract work where the dancers explore relationships and space. The modern movement pulls the dancers away from the synchronized group into shafts of light over white rectangles. The use of shadows and space adds to this intriguing work that caught the attention of the audiences and critics alike.

Verb Ballets' performance on February 3, 2018 at 8:00pm is at The Breen Center for the Performing Arts located at 2008 W. 30th St. in Cleveland. Single tickets are $25-$35. Student ticket discount available. Tickets can be purchased at through Eventbrite at For more information, visit

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