Directing Show in Atlanta & New York

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DIRECTING SHOW IN ATLANTA & NEW YORK

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It’s been a wonderful experience directing the show Funnel Cake Flowers & the Urban Chameleons. When I tell folks that it’s a multi-media interactive live stage show, I can tell by their facial expressions that they don’t quite know what that is.

Well… it’s a show that has live performance, video stories, hip hop music, a DJ, a stage manager who interacts with the audience and live tweeting. It’s the latter that makes it interactive and lots of fun.

Created and brilliantly written and performed by HaJ (tickles.tv) — also my daughter– the show brings to life stories of people of color who seamlessly chameleon between white corporate America and their kinky hair handling, curry spice eating, hip gyrating and sometimes even tip-toeing up the courthouse steps in Manolo Blahniks to bail cousin Pookie out of jail America…because it’s complicated!

Last year we did the show at the Atlanta Fringe Festival and Spelman College for Family Weekend. It was a blast. At Spelman tweets from parents were surprisingly more provocative than tweets from students!

In June the show was part of the NY Fringe Festival. Now we are on the road again. The show will be presented at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center as part of the Atlanta Black Theater Festival (October 10) before returning to New York
for a one night Off Broadway performance on Theater Row (October 13) as part of the United Solo Theater Festival (the largest solo theater festival in the world).

Ticket info for Atlanta: Atlanta Black Theater Festival
Ticket info for NY United Solo Theater Festival

 

Fabulousness at a Villa in Florence

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Curated and organized by the extraordinary photographer, curator, historian Deborah Willis and others, Black Portraiture{s} II:Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories (May 28 – 31, 2015) was a successful conference on so many levels  For many it was a chance to see old friends and make new ones while listening to original theories, witnessing breathtaking artistic practices, struggling with ideological transitions between legacy and contemporary histories and feeling unapologetically free in the world.

My role was to interview Misan Sagay, the brilliant screenwriter of the lush historical fiction film, Belle. We talked in part about how notions of love work in the film. She began by saying that in her language, Itsekiri, to say I love you (mo fe ofor re) translates into I want your words. Stay tuned for more from Misan (a mini series for the BBC), she is genius personified.

Stay tuned also for more fabulousness from Black scholars, curators and artists coming at you from all over the globe and with style like you’ve never seen all in one place! Group photo and my stage photos by Terrence Jennings.

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A selfie with Misan Sagay

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Interviewing Misan Sagay

 

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With Deborah Willis and Misan Sagay

 

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Smart, beautiful, fun and stylish folks at the villa!

My First Film Featured in London

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Syvilla

Syvilla Fort

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Syvilla Fort and Ayoka Chenzira during the making of the film, Syvilla: They Dance to Her Drum, in New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first film, Syvilla: They Dance to Her Drum, is being presented in London as part of the All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm exhibition with guest curator Christine Eyene (France/Cameroon). The film is the only documentary on Syvilla Fort a dancer, choreographer and teacher who was the vital training link between the Katherine Dunham and Alvin Ailey periods of modern dance.

The exhibition traces the integration of African rhythms into 20th century artistic practices. In the case of Syvilla, composer John Cage collaborated with African-American choreographers and dancers during the development of his iconic ‘prepared piano’. Specifically Cage’s work Bacchanale (1940) was written for Syvilla when she asked Cage to compose music for her dance recital when they were both students at the Cornish School of Allied Arts in Seattle. Although seldom credited (until the mid 70s), but confirmed in my conversation with John (in the mid 70s), Syvilla asked him if he could make the piano sound more like a percussion instrument. This led to his experiments with pie plates and silverware in between the piano strings.

In my film, the exquisite dancer Dyane Harvey-Salaam, performs as Syvilla in Bacchanale which was choreographed by my late dear friend and business partner Eugene Little.

Ayoka Chenzira Film at Whitney Museum

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HAIR PIECE IS AT THE WHITNEY!

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For years I walked by the Whitney Museum of American Art hoping that one day my work would be included in their collection. Finally, it’s happened! I am one of of the inaugural exhibition artists whose work is part of the exhibition titled America is Hard to See. It includes my first animated film, Hair Piece: a film for nappyheaded people, which is part of the Whitney’s permanent collection.

The exhibition takes the inauguration of the Museum’s new building as an opportunity to reexamine the history of art in the U.S. from the beginning to the present. Hair Piece will be on view from May 1 – September 27, 2015. Details

 

 

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