Every year, I become reinvigorated by the scope of Dr. Martin Luther King’s work. The profound nature of his spoken word and the intensity of his action bring clarity to what we as Americans can do to promote justice and engage peace. Dayton does a wonderful job with the holiday celebration! This year, Cityfolk is proud to be among the community organizations celebrating Black History Month and Dr. King’s legacy.
In partnership with Sinclair Community College’s Theatre and Dance Department, Cityfolk’s Culture Builds Community program is proud to present FREE SPIRITS: From the Mountain Top to the Jazz Hall, February 15 & 16 at Blair Theatre, Building 2, 8pm.
The performance runs just over an hour and is great for a family audience! Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students! Tickets are available at the door , through the Cityfolk website or by calling the Cityfolk box office at 496-3863
Cityfolk has always been known for jazz programs, especially those that educate audiences. We’ve merged our jazz initiative with CBC this winter, giving focus to one of the great jazz pianists and composers of her time, Mary Lou Williams. Duke Ellington described her work as “soul on soul.” Her distinctive style swings with both lush and spare instrumentation: a testament to the composer’s skill. The Free Spirits project is proud to feature young musicians from the jazz bands at Centerville high school and Stivers School for the Arts. This ensemble of 10 will provide live music for the program: a series of dances that bring beautiful expression to Dr. King’s deeply felt wisdom.
The project involves young dancers from Edison School, Omega Baptist Church, South Dayton Dance Theatre and Sinclair’s dance department. Also from Omega Baptist: an intergenerational group of singers are giving shape to some well-loved Gospel tunes that mark history as well. All of these aspects together bring a depth to this black history celebration.
Guest artists LaFrae Sci from Jazz at Lincoln Center and Jakari Sherman from Step Afrika are in town this final week, working with performers to sharpen skills and affirm the four-week residency commitment by 75 or so young artists. Kent Brooks, director of the Gospel choir at Wittenberg University, has prepared the singers for the project. He will also play the piano for selected dances during the performance. Erica Harvey of Stivers School for the Arts and David O’Connell of Centerville High School have led an outstanding group of teen musicians in preparation for Ms. Sci’s arrival. Jordan Daughtery of DCDC 2 has set Mr. Sherman’s choreography with the Edison students.
DeShona Pepper Robertson, Dance Magnet Director at Stivers, has choreographed a beautiful piece of liturgical dance with some of Mary Lou Williams’ sacred music, secured for us by LaFrae Sci. Interestingly, it is the priest and friend of Mary Lou Williams who holds the rights to her sacred music. Ms. Williams went through a spiritual crisis in the middle of her career, converting to Catholicism and bonding with the priest who later became her dear friend and spiritual guide. Choreographers also featured are Erin Robbins of South Dayton Dance Theatre and Denise Miller from Sinclair. Ceora and Cyrah Ward, student dancers from Stivers, are assisting Miss DeShona.
Rodney Veal, Artistic Director for the project, is thrilled with all the collaborative aspects of this project. “I am amazed at how the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the music of Mary Lou Williams intersect and weave a compelling narrative for our times,” Veal says. “The young performers in the concert have embraced the theme of the show, celebrating tolerance and the beauty of community coming together. I’m hoping that people will gain an appreciation for the musical genius of Mary Lou Williams. This performance will showcase some amazing interpretations of her music.”
Teaching tolerance and modeling peace through creativity, this robust group of artists are honoring the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, hoping that all who witness the performance will resonate with the themes! Photographer, Glenna Jennings will show a number of photographs in the Blair Theatre lobby on the theme of Free Spirits. The piece included here (left) – The One and the Many – is a gorgeous example of Ms Jenning’s work with archival images from NCR, bringing Dayton history to new life!
Sponsors for this event include City of Dayton’s Human Relations Council, MetLife, DP & L Foundation, Dayton Foundation and Sinclair Community College.
Dayton Most Metro Ticket Contest
We have TWO PAIRS of tickets to give away for this concert! Simply fill out the form below and leave a comment saying that YOU want to win tickets from Dayton Most Metro to see FREE SPIRITS, and we’ll pick two random winners on Sunday 2/10 – GOOD LUCK!
Congratulations to our winners!