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PHILADANCO to Perform at the Hammer Theatre in February

Work by choreographers Francisco Gella, Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, Ray Mercer, and Anthony Burrell will be featured.

PHILADANCO to Perform at the Hammer Theatre in February

Renowned for its vibrant and high-energy performances, The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) is set to bring down the house at Hammer Theatre Center with works from a diverse collection of multi-award-winning choreographers. Globally acclaimed for its artistic integrity, superbly trained dancers, and captivating stage presence, the innovative company has bridged cultural divides by showcasing the contributions of multicultural choreographers and performing for sold-out audiences of all ethnicities and communities worldwide. The company's appearance at the Hammer Theatre Center will offer a look at four distinct dances from established choreographers Francisco Gella, Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie, Ray Mercer, and Anthony Burrell. PHILADANCO will be presented two nights only, 7:30pm, Thursday, February 16 and 7:30pm, Friday, February 17, at the Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose. For tickets ($45, $60) or more information, the public may visit hammertheatre.com or call (408) 924-8501.

First on the bill is Francisco Gella's Seasons, a six-part ballet set to contemporary classical composer Max Richter's complete recomposition and reinterpretation of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." The six sections of the work-named after the concepts of Anticipation, Jubilation, Exhalation, Preparation, Revelation, and Improvisation-were derived from a series of interviews with the dancers. Revealing contrasting ideas about each of the four seasons based on their individual experiences and reflections, Seasons is a visual and musical interpretation of the human experience based on these in-depth interviews, joined together in a collection of captivating, short neo-classical dances. Gella is the founding co-artistic director of Zeitgeist Dance Theatre, and the founding artistic director of NUEVO School of Contemporary Dance and COLABO Youth Dance Collective. In addition to a successful performance and choreographic career, Gella is a renowned educator and arts entrepreneur.

New York City-based choreographer, b-girl, and dancer Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie's Out-Side-In will also be performed by PHILADANCO at the Hammer. Rooted in the idioms of breaking and house, and set to music by Donovan Dorrance and Falty DL, this work reflects on the myriad of emotions that swept the globe during COVID-19 and moves through the way feelings are processed. Out-Side-In invites audiences to think about how they connect, how they can thrive together, and how moments of introspection and self-reflection can help people move forward, collaborate, and create more fully. Asherie is a 2016 Bessie Award Winner for Innovative Achievement in Dance and has received numerous other awards to support her work, including Dance Magazine's Inaugural Harkness Promise Award, the Jacob's Pillow Fellowship at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU, and a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant.

Also on the bill is Ray Mercer's This Place, a high energy, physical work motivated by the idea and feeling of community. This collage of movements explores how a group that shares a common interest interacts socially, humanistically, and intimately. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Mercer has set works on various companies across the country including Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, New Jersey Ballet, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Ballet Pensacola, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and DRA (Dancers Responding to Aids). He is also a resident choreographer for the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program and has been commissioned to choreograph a work for the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Mercer has performed with Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, as a guest artist with Boston Ballet, and in the Broadway production of "The Lion King." He has received the 2012 Joffrey Ballet Choreographers of Color Award and Pensacola Ballet Choreographers Award and is a five-time winner of Broadway's Gypsy of the Year Award for best onstage performance.

Last but not least, acclaimed choreographer Anthony Burrell's Conglomerate will be presented. The work pays homage to the rich history of Black Dance in Philadelphia that inspired his journey as a dancer, choreographer, and creative director. Burrell is best known as a dancer and choreographer who has worked with the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, and Katy Perry, among others. A native of Philadelphia who began teaching and choreographing at age 14, he danced professionally with various troupes in high school while studying at the Pennsylvania Ballet and the National School of Ballet in Lima, Peru. He toured nationally and internationally with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater before appearing in music videos and on television as a dancer, choreographer, and dance captain for some of the music industry's top artists. Burrell was a part of the artistic team behind Beyonce's Super Bowl half-time shows, Beyonce's 2017 Grammys performance, The Formation World Tour, and countless music videos, winning an MTV Video Music Award for "Best Choreography" in Beyonce's "Formation." His recent film credits include "Bad Grandpa," "Jackass Forever," Pepsi, DKNY, and Ivy Park, and he also appeared on the popular reality dance show "Dance Moms" and as a judge on "Abby Lee's Ultimate Dance Competition."

PHILADANCO is an award-winning company founded in 1970 by Joan Myers Brown to provide performance opportunities for Black dancers, who were systematically denied entrance in many local dance schools and had even fewer professional performance outlets. It has since grown into a world-renowned professional dance company known for its technical excellence and expressive delivery, producing modern, high-energy dances. Dance Magazine raved of its dancers, calling them "a miracle of skill and energy...[representing] the possibilities of human spirit through dance," while Broad Street Review declared its performances "electrifying."

Since its inception, PHILADANCO has made a significant impact on the dance world. As a cultural ambassador representing the United States, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the City of Philadelphia, its artistic direction and renowned national and international guest choreographers have developed a reputation of producing a dance repertory with passion, power, skill, and diversity. A stellar faculty handpicked by Brown has trained over 4,500 dancers in a comprehensive program achieving the highest level of technical skills in dance and performance. PHILADANCO's unique blend of dance styles and its annual roster of 50-60 concert performances and 45 residencies, has made them one of the most sought-after modern dance companies in the United States.

Celebrating more than 52 years of artistic excellence, PHILADANCO also represents a history of "first" accomplishments. In 1988, Brown and company staff launched the first International Conference on Black Dance Companies with the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts, University of the Arts, the Pennsylvania Arts Council, the City of Philadelphia, and the Coalition of African American Cultural Organizations. A major success, the conference continued annually, and in 1991, The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) was formalized. IABD is a service organization that addresses the needs of the African American dance community in a supportive environment and produces an annual conference and festival. In January 2020, PHILADANCO and the IABD staff hosted the 32nd Annual Conference and Festival in Philadelphia where more than one thousand dance professionals attended.

Owned by the City of San Jose and operated by San Jose State University, the Hammer Theatre Center is a state-of-the-art performance venue located in the heart of downtown San Jose at 101 Paseo De San Antonio, between 2nd and 3rd Streets. The 528-seat theatre has presented an array of offerings including outstanding professional productions, community-based works, SJSU shows, and concerts, as well as dance, music, talks, film screenings-even live aerial performances with dancers suspended outside, scaling the sides of the iconic blue building. From jazz performances to mariachi extravaganzas, the acclaimed National Theatre Live film screenings, Cinequest film festival presentations, ballet and modern dance shows, kid-friendly performances, live art and more, the Hammer's mission is to serve the community through artistic and educational programming that express the unique characteristics and diverse cultures of Silicon Valley.



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