Showcasing African Americans in Dance

Thirteen Performances that will introduce you to a world of breakdance, tap, ballet, contemporary and beyond!

Shelter by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Jawole Willa Jo ZollarThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Originally performed by the Ailey company in 1992, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter is a passionate statement about the physical and emotional deprivation of homeless people. The Ailey company has typically performed it with either an all-female or all-male cast; for its return to the Ailey repertory during the 2017-18 season, it will be performed by female dancers.

Set to an inventive score which incorporates drumming by Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn and poetry by Hattie Gossett and Laurie Carlos, Shelter delivers the compelling message that the poverty of individuals will inevitably lead to the destitution of all humanity.

Bone Breaking Meets Vertical Dance - BANDALOOP and FLEXN (2017-05-27) by FLEXN, BANDALOOP, and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Pioneers of vertical dance BANDALOOP perform with bone breaking troupe FLEXN at The Kennedy Center during “Open House: Celebrating JFK at 100.”

Lil Buck demonstrates the Gangsta WalkThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Charles Riley, better known as Lil Buck, performs a street dance called the Gangsta Walk that originated in Memphis, Tennessee alongside the emergence of "Buck" music in the 1990's.

Desmond Richardson of Complexions Contemporary Ballet - "Imprint/Maya" (2017-04-17) by Desmond Richardson, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Desmond Richardson performs "IMPRINT/MAYA", set to words by Maya Angelou and music by the jazz composer David Rozenblatt, and choreographed by Dwight Rhoden. Part of Ballet Across America -- programs curated by Misty Copeland and Justin Peck -- at the Kennedy Center.

Masala Soul Project (2018-06-23) by Masala Soul ProjectThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Masala Soul Project artistic director and choreographer Alexis Reneé merges dance performance and theater to weave personal and historical narratives that examine the diversity, complexity, and beauty of Black and Brown lives. The evening will include work from the company’s repertoire including Salt. Rose. Witness., an interdisciplinary performance that investigates the stresses leading to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tap Legends Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. (1987) by Nicholas Brothers, Chuck Green, Jimmy Slyde, Sandman Sims, and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Tap legends Fayard and Harold Nicholas (The Nicholas Brothers), Chuck Green, Jimmy Slyde, and Sandman Sims perform a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. at the 1987 Kennedy Center Honors.

Breakdance Battle Competition - FinalsThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Breakdancers compete as part of One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide, a festival celebrating this uniquely American art form on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. The battle, hosted by Silver Spring, Maryland lyricist Trus Real and New York b-boy Kwikstep, includes judges such as hip-hop artist Narumi from Japan, DC area b-boy Toyz aRe Us, and pioneering New York b-girl Rokafella with DJ Fleg and DJ RBI on the turntables.

Members Don't Get Weary by Jamar Roberts - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Jamar RobertsThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Jamar Roberts, a veteran dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and 2016 “Bessie” Award recipient was inspired by the blues to create 'Members Don't Get Weary,' his first work for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In his own words, “As a response to the current social landscape in America, 'Members Don’t Get Weary' takes an abstract look into the notion of one ‘having the blues.’”

Members Don't Get Weary' uses the dancing body to inspire the audience, allowing them to transcend their own personal blues momentarily.

Memphis Jookin with Ron "PrimeTime" Myles (2015) by Ron Myles and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Ron "PrimeTime" Myles performs during the 2015 Aspen Institute/Kennedy Center Arts Summit.

Lil Buck - "Orbit" from "DEMO: Now" by Damian WoetzelThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Lil Buck performs "Orbit" from "DEMO: Now" by Damian Woetzel

Helanius J. Wilkins (2017-12-03) by Helanius J. Wilkins and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Award-winning choreographer and two-time Kennedy Center Local Dance Commissioning award recipient Helanius J. Wilkins for Triggered, a program of dynamic contemporary dance. It will feature solo works performed by Wilkins as well as the D.C. premiere of his latest, hard-hitting work Media’s Got Me All Figured Out: Reloaded, a trio inspired by the tensions and events that fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.

UniverSoul Circus - Bone Breakers (2017-06-25) by UniverSoul Circus Bone Breakers and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Bone-breakers from the the UniverSoul Circus showcase their unique talents. UniverSoul Circus is a combination of circus arts, theater, music, and audience interaction that embraces and celebrates urban pop culture from around the world. Since its inception in 1994, UniverSoul has evolved into an amazing spectacle, pushing the limits of imagination with daring and innovative performances featuring diverse blends of performers from virtually every continent.

Presented in collaboration with Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Cartier Williams - "New York, New York" (2018-04-25) by Cartier Williams and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Hoofer, choreographer, filmmaker, and performer Cartier Williams pays tribute to the great Leonard Bernstein with a tap piece set to Bernstein's "New York, New York" from 'On The Town.'

Meet the Masters: Bill T. Jones (excerpt) (2011-03-14) by Bill T. Jones and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Excerpt from an interview with 2010 Kennedy Center Honoree Bill T. Jones, one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the modern dance world. In the clip, Jones discusses how all artists are survivors.

Meet the Masters: Carmen de Lavallade (2014-10-16) by Carmen de Lavallade and The Kennedy CenterThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

In this in-depth interview, legendary dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade talks about her family background, work with Alvin Ailey, and other facets of her illustrious career.

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