Apollo New Works
As the latest initiative in the Apollo Theater’s ongoing expansion, Apollo New Works extends the Theater’s commitment to the articulation and projection of the African American and African diasporic narrative. This multi-disciplinary commissioning program is dedicated to the creation of a diverse, 21st century American performing arts cannon. Many of the works will premiere at the Apollo’s new theaters at the Victoria, scheduled to open in fall 2021.
MEET THE ARTISTS:
Ballet Hispánico, America’s leading Latino dance organization, has partnered with the Apollo to create a new work. Choreographed by artistic director Eduardo Vilaro, the work will celebrate Latin music from the past 50 years. The company brings communities together through innovative dance productions, transformative dance training, and community engagement. Ballet Hispánico was founded in 1970 by Tina Ramirez, known for her achievements by the National Medal of Arts—the nation’s highest cultural honor. The organization has grown since its early days as a dance school and community-based performing arts troupe and is now a world-class institution. Its New York City headquarters houses a School of Dance and state-of-the-art dance studios for its programs and the arts community. A former member of the company, Eduardo Vilaro became the Artistic Director of Ballet Hispánico in August 2009. In addition to his involvement with Ballet Hispánico, Vilaro founded and led Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater for a decade. His background in dance education and community outreach enables him to expand the company’s founding values and lead Ballet Hispánico into an artistically vibrant future.
BANDALOOP honors nature, community, and the human spirit through perspective-bending dance. A pioneer in vertical performance, BANDALOOP seamlessly weaves dynamic physicality, intricate choreography and climbing technology to turn the dance floor on its side. Founded by Amelia Rudolph, BANDALOOP re-imagines dance, activates public spaces, and inspires wonder and imagination in audiences around the world. The company trains dancers and youth at home and on tour, and has performed for millions of people in over 22 countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, and Asia, and on screens in films and digital media. BANDALOOP is based in Oakland, CA, where the company creates work for its bi-annual home season and for touring performances presented around the globe each year. Community is a pillar of the dance company’s work and they regularly offer courses for students and adults in Oakland, as well as lectures and corporate team building workshops worldwide. BANDALOOP believes in the power of its perspective shifting site-specific art as a means of dialogue between vastly different cultures and people, revitalizing public spaces, and as a tool to invite authentic engagement and creative curiosity.
Photo Credit: Basil Tsimoyianis
LIL BUCK & JON BOOGZ
Lil Buck is an artist known for bringing a freestyle-based dance involving intricate footwork, called jookin’, to a mainstream audience across the world. Raised in Memphis, he studied ballet for two years on scholarship before being introduced to the urban street dance style. He quickly made a niche for himself by adding his own style and imagination to create signature moves. In 2011, Lil Buck performed with YoYo Ma to his rendition of Camille Sain-Saens’ “The Swan.” Spike Jonze happened to be in the audience and was so blown away by the performance, he taped it on his phone and posted it on the internet. The video quickly went viral with more than 3 million views on YouTube. Since then, he’s performed with Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson: One,” Benjamin Millipied, Janelle Monae, and Madonna, to name a few. In 2015, he danced alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in a campaign for Rag & Bone’s Fall/Winter campaign and has appeared in ads for brands such as Gap, Volvo, Kaporal Jeans, and Diesel Jeans. He also completed his second world tour with Madonna and designed a shoe line for Versace. He also starred in Lexus’ 2017 Super Bowl commercial, and you can see some of his moves through the role of the Mouse King in Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” A choreographer and dancer as well as an activist, Buck is behind MOVEMENT ART IS, an organization focused on using movement artistry to inspire change in the world. Lil Buck collaborated with dancer Jon Boogz and artist Alexa Meade to create “Color of Reality,” a short film addressing gun violence. The film won CNN’s Great Big Story “Art as Impact” Award and Toronto Short Festival’s “Best Experimental Film” and was also nominated for World of Dance’s “Concept Video of the Year.”
Jon Boogz is a movement artist, choreographer, and director who seeks to push the evolution of what dance can be – sharing with audiences of all backgrounds an appreciation of the melding of art forms while inspiring and bringing awareness to social issues. Originally motivated to dance by the work of Michael Jackson, Boogz has choreographed for notable icons including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Naomi Campbell, Gloria Estefan; for Pharrell’s Adidas Originals campaign to creative direct, choreograph, and perform in Movement Art Is: Standing Rock at ComplexCon; and as creative consultant for ads launching campaigns for Apple and Lexus. Boogz’s collaborators include TriBeCa Film Festival, DAIS, Lil Buck, and Flying Lotus; his choreography is used in FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance”; Cirque du Soleil’s MJ ONE; and he was featured at the Geffen Playhouse’s “Backstage at the Geffen” with his dance company Control Freakz, Lil Buck, and spoken word artist Robin Sanders to honor Morgan Freeman and Jeff Skoll. Boogz recently wrote, choreographed, directed and danced in Color of Reality, a short film in collaboration with visual artist Alexa Meade. The work continues to receive coverage internationally and won Great Big Story’s Art as Impact Award; Best Experimental at Toronto International Short Film Festival; and Concept Video of the Year from World of Dance, among others. His forthcoming projects seek to merge movement with fine art, film, technology, and the stage.
CAMILLE A. BROWN
Camille A. Brown is a prolific Black female choreographer, who is reclaiming the cultural narratives of African American identity. Her bold work taps into both ancestral stories and contemporary culture to capture a range of deeply personal experiences. Ms. Brown has received numerous honors including an Obie Award, a Guggenheim Award, Bessie Award, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, a Doris Duke Artist Award, a United States Artists Award, 2 Audelco Awards, 5 Princess Grace Awards, and a New York City Center Award. She has received a Tony nomination, 3 Drama Desk, and 3 Lortel nominations for her work in Theater. She is a TED fellow and the recipient of a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, among others. Camille has been commissioned by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Urban Bush Women, Complexions, Ballet Memphis, Hubbard Street II, Broadway theaters, the Metropolitan Opera and other prominent institutions. As Artistic Director of Camille A. Brown & Dancers (CABD), Ms. Brown strives to instill curiosity and reflection in diverse audiences through her emotionally raw and thought-provoking work. Her driving passion is to empower Black bodies to tell their story using their own language through movement and dialogue. Through the company, Ms. Brown provides outreach activities to students, young adults, and men and women across the country. Ms. Brown is a graduate of the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts and received a B.F.A. from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Photo Credit: Josefina Santos
DANIEL BERNARD ROUMAIN
Daniel Bernard Roumain is a prolific and endlessly collaborative composer, performer, educator, and social entrepreneur. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (New York Times), DBR has worked with artists from Philip Glass to Bill T. Jones to Lady Gaga; appeared on NPR, American Idol, and ESPN; and has collaborated with the Sydney Opera House and the City of Burlington, Vermont. Acclaimed as a violinist and activist, DBR’s career spans more than two decades, earning commissions by venerable artists and institutions worldwide. Known for his signature violin sounds infused with myriad electronic, urban, and African-American music influences, DBR takes his genre-bending music beyond the proscenium. He is a composer of chamber, orchestral, and operatic works; has won an Emmy for Outstanding Musical Composition for his collaborations with ESPN; featured as keynote performer at technology conferences; and created large scale, site-specific musical events for public spaces. DBR earned his doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan and is currently Institute Professor and Professor of Practice At Arizona State University. An avid arts industry leader, DBR serves on the board of directors of the League of American Orchestras, Association of Performing Arts Presenters and Creative Capital, the advisory committee of the Sphinx Organization, and was co-chair of 2015 and 2016 APAP Conferences.
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
EBONY NOELLE GOLDEN
Ebony Noelle Golden is a performance artist, scholar, and culture strategist whose work consists of site-specific performance rituals and live art installations that explore relationships between creativity and liberation. She relies on transparent and equitable partnerships with community members, institutions, and creatives in pursuit of social justice. For the duration of her career, Golden has been committed to building performance and public rituals with folks to fight reductive ideas about race, class, sexuality, gender, ability, and more. She centers the brilliant voices of people made invisible by white-normative power structures and is clear about the wealth of culture and art present in their families and communities. She aims to utilize performance to tell enlivening stories to cultivate meaningful community connections that are viable for collective action and instillation of self-determination. For the last decade, she has collaboratively created site-specific public art performances grounded in authentic community storytelling. Each time, she has felt that those folks who joined herself and her collaborators on their creative journey had been enveloped into the project itself—no longer audience members, but co-conspirators or co-performers. This is the type of connection she strives for and is integral to why she works as a collaborative artist for progressive social transformation. Ebony is also the founder of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC and Jupiter Performance Studio.
KAMAU WARE/BLACK GOTHAM EXPERIENCE
Black Gotham Experience was started by artist and historian Kamau Ware in 2010. In the spring of 2008 on New York City’s Lower East Side, Kamau Ware was working as a Tenement Museum educator, and giving the “Getting By” tour to a group of Black middle school students. Kamau explained how German Jewish and Italian immigrants struggled in the late 19th and early 20th century. At the tour’s end, one of the girls who had been silent the entire time raised her hand and asked: Where were the Black people? The question was deeper than one of geography. The question was one of identity – Where are Black people in the story of New York City and how did Black people get here? Inspired by her question, Kamau Ware started creating the first Black Gotham walking tour in 2008. Two years later on August 25th 2010, this first tour debuted, combining history and visual storytelling to celebrate the impact of the African Diaspora on New York City. Black Gotham Experience creates media at the intersection of scholarship and aesthetics that illustrates the impact of the African Diaspora missing from collective consciousness as well as the public square. We reimagine the spaces directly impacted by the African Diaspora as human stories explored through interactive walks, talks, events, and art. The heart of these experiences are five core stories that revisit Manhattan in 1623 and move forward through three centuries: Other Side of Wall Street, Sarah’s Fire, Caesar’s Rebellion, Citizen Hope, and State of Mirrors.
KEITH JOSEF ADKINS/THE NEW BLACK FEST
Keith Josef Adkins of The New Black Fest is a playwright and screenwriter. His plays include Sweet Home (MPAACT Theater, Chicago), Sugar and Needles (Epic Theater), The final Days of Negro-ville, The Dangerous, a commission at The Public Theater, and Safe House, a commission honoring August Wilson at Alliance Theater (Goodman Theater New Stages). His awards include Gateway Commission from Obie Award-winning Epic Theater, Contemporary Theatre/Hansberry Project Commission, New Professional Theater Playwright Award, Kesselring Fellowship nomination, Richard Sherwood Distinguished Emerging Theater Artist Award, Van Lier Fellowship with NYTW and Sloan Science Foundation Playwriting Grant. Keith has been published in Humana Festival 2003 – The Complete Plays, Playscripts, and The Best Women’s Stage Monologues 2005. Keith worked as a writer on the CW hit comedy Girlfriends, blogged for TheRoot.com and made radio appearances on NPR and BBC Worldservice Radio. He is the Artistic Director and a co-founder of The New Black Fest, a theater festival and movement. The New Black Fest is a call to action inspired by the state of Black theater in the 21st century. It is a bold step motivated by a growing need within the Black theater community for serious change and boundless opportunity. The movement gathers artists, thinkers, activists, and audiences who are dedicated to stretching, interrogating, and uplifting the Black aesthetic. The New Black Fest is a commitment to celebrate, advocate, and showcase diverse and provocative work in a festival of Black theater artists from throughout the Diaspora. It is for everyone and anyone who supports elevating and celebrating Black theater around the world, in a fresh way. Keith Josef Adkins will curate and produce 20 ten-minute plays by 20 distinct playwrights that will premiere at the Apollo Theater’s two new theaters at the Victoria.
Photo Credit: Jessica Fallon Gordon Photography
SOUL SCIENCE LAB
Soul Science Lab (SSL) is a Brooklyn-based music and multimedia duo that translates stories into soul-stirring sounds and dynamic visuals. Soul Science Lab was formed by artist, educator and creative director, Chen Lo, and multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, Asante’ Amin. SSL produces high quality, music, provides innovative arts education and creates culturally responsive experiences. In addition to international touring, Soul Science Lab’s current projects include Chen Lo’s album Footprints, Amin’s album The Visitor: Alter Destiny, the live concert and multimedia documentary Soundtrack’63 and their newly released interactive album, Plan for Paradise. Co‐founder Chen Lo is a seasoned artist, educator and creative director and has shared the stage with Common, Erykah Badu, KRS-‐ONE, A Tribe Called Quest, Rapsody, Sunni Patterson and has worked with the legendary Last Poets. To date, he has recorded notable collaborations with K'Naan, Jean Grae and international artists Stogie T and Cheikh Lô. Co-‐founder Asante’ Amin is a gifted multi-‐instrumentalist, composer and producer. Amin has shared the stage with globally-‐renown artists, including (featuring guest artists Rhiannon Giddens, Jessica Care Moore Blitz the Ambassador, Ismael Kouyaté, GZA and others. Amin is a MetLife Meet the Composer award winner. Most recently, the duo has delivered music education workshops with Lincoln Center Education, Arizona State University, Dare to Dream Ghana, Create South Africa and been featured in TheRoot.com’s Black History Month series and VICE.com's publication The Creators Project for their 360 video, "I Can't Breathe." With several performances under their belt in the last year, including shows with the Apollo Theater, Lincoln Center Education, Afropunk After Dark, Harlem Stage, Chale Wote Festival – Ghana, Sankofa.org's Many Rivers to Cross Festival, BAM and SXSWedu, Soul Science Lab is currently performing Soundtrack ’63 and music from their debut album Plan for Paradise with arts and education institutions, at concerts and festivals nationwide.
Stefon Harris is a passionate educator, musician, and thought leader. His transformative presentations on corporate leadership development and team empowerment to Fortune 50 companies using jazz as a metaphor. His inspiring 2012 TED Talk, “There are No Mistakes on the Bandstand,” has gained more than 750,000 views to date. Mr. Harris has served on the Board of Advisors for Percussive Arts Society. His venture into new technological advances led to the co-founding of The Melodic Progression Institute (MPI) in 2013 with partner Clif Swiggett. With a focus on designing innovative ways to help musicians learn and grow, MPI released its first app in 2016, Harmony Cloud TM, an ear-training learning tool now available on iTunes. As an educator, Mr. Harris assumed the position of Associate Dean and Director of Jazz Arts at Manhattan School Music in July 2017. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in classical music and Master of Music degree in jazz performance at Manhattan School of Music and joined the school’s Artistic Advisory Council in 2015. Mr. Harris has taught at universities throughout the world in person and virtually via his Distance Learning Studio, has led curriculum development at the Brubeck Institute, and serves as Artistic Director of Jazz Education at New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Mr. Harris was Visiting Professor at Rutgers University and served on the jazz faculty of New York University for 10 years. “The Art of Listening,” part of a series of documentaries focusing on Mr. Harris’s community work in arts education in Kalamazoo, won three Gold Camera awards and three Michigan EMMY nominations. More recently he was the subject of a documentary, The Sound of New York, viewable on QwestTV and produced and directed by Italian filmmaker Gloria Rebecchi.
Talvin Wilks is a playwright, director and dramaturg. His plays include Tod, the Boy, Tod; The Trial of Uncle S&M; Bread of Heaven; and An American Triptych. Directorial projects include the world premiere productions of Eyewitness Blues, by Mildred Ruiz and Steven Sapp (New WORLD Theater/New York Theatre Workshop), UDU by Sekou Sundiata (651Arts/BAM), The Love Space Demands by Ntozake Shange (Crossroads), No Black Male Show/Pagan Operetta by Carl Hancock Rux (Joe’s Pub/The Kitchen), Banana Beer Bath by Lynn Nottage, (Going to the River Festival/EST), the Obie Award/AUDELCO Award winning The Shaneequa Chronicles by Stephanie Berry (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Relativity by Cassandra Medley (Ensemble Studio Theatre – AUDELCO nomination for Best Director 2006) and On the Way to Timbuktu by Petronia Paley (Ensemble Studio Theatre – AUDELCO nomination for Best Director 2008). He has served as co-writer/dramaturg for ten productions in Ping Chong’s ongoing series of Undesirable Elements, and dramaturg for four collaborations with the Bebe Miller Company, Necessary Beauty, Going to the Wall, the Bessie Award winning, Verge, and Landing/Place for which he received a 2006 Bessie Award for Dramaturgy. He was also dramaturg for the Apollo Theater's 2018 & 2019 theatrical event, Between the World and Me.
APOLLO NEW WORKS IN CONVERSATION
Join the Apollo’s Executive Producer, Kamilah Forbes as she speaks with two members of the inaugural Apollo New Works cohort - artist, scholar, and culture strategist, Ebony Noelle Golden and visual storyteller and founder of Black Gotham Experience, Kamau Ware. Together, they’ll discuss their artistic inspirations, upcoming Harlem Renaissance-inspired Apollo New Works projects, and how they’ve maintained their creativity throughout these turbulent times, as part of this year's virtual HARLEM WEEK festival.
Leadership support for the Apollo New Works program provided by the Ford Foundation.