This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

11Nov/20

GRACE @20

The twentieth anniversary of Ronald K. Brown’s Grace will be celebrated this week at CAP UCLA

Who: Ronald K. Brown / Evidence, a Dance Company, Barry Brannum, Arthur Jafa, MarySue Heilemann, Theo Bonner Perkins, Kristy Edmunds, Meryl Friedman
What: Three-day online celebration
Where: Center for the Art of Performance UCLA
When: November 12-14, free
Why: In December 2012, I saw Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s stunning new production of Ronald K. Brown’s Grace, which was originally commissioned and presented for AAADT in 1999; I’ve also seen Brown and his troupe, Evidence, a Dance Company, perform it at the Joyce led by Brown himself. I’ve called Grace, which is a tribute to Ailey’s legacy and is set to music by Duke Ellington, Roy Davis Jr., and Fela Anikulapo Kuti, “an exhilarating, rapturous work, filled with an innate, infectious spirituality that resonates throughout the audience.” CAP UCLA will be honoring the twentieth anniversary of the piece with “Grace@20,” a three-day program that begins November 12 at 7:00 with “Celebrating Grace@20,” consisting of a screening of a recorded performance from Bard College’s Fisher Center in July 2019, followed by a live discussion with Brown and LA-based dancer-choreographer Barry Brannum.

On November 13 at 3:00, there will be an online community class, no experience necessary, to study Brown’s unique style, heavily influenced by West African traditional movement; participation is free with RSVP here. And on November 14 at 3:00, “Let’s Say Grace and Talk About It After!” is a live conversation with Brown, artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa, UCLA School of Nursing associate professor MarySue Heilemann, artist and social justice advocate Theo Bonner Perkins, and CAP UCLA artistic and executive director Kristy Edmunds, moderated by CAP UCLA director of education Meryl Friedman. I’ve had the good fortune to interview Brown twice, and he is an extraordinary person, believing in love of community, the importance of dance as story, and honoring the ancestors. In 2015, he told me, “One thing that I have also learned is that we have to make sure we are connected to those close to us . . . and then that opens up the capacity to be connected to the world.” Grace has been doing just that for twenty years, with added relevance during the pandemic lockdown.

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