Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Happy New Year!

Well, somehow another year went by again.  Seems to happen every 365 days or so.  Anyway, the year has passed and my annual promise (to myself) to put up more posts has once more not been kept.  So, this year I declare "Every post in its time".  Here are two observations to start the year.

Last week I saw the Broadway show, "After Midnight", an enjoyable revue that is sort of based on the entertainment at The Cotton Club and other spots in Harlem years ago.  Although it is not a "tap" show, the art form is well represented on the stage.  Daniel J. Watts and Phillip Attimore do a nice tap duet early on and then appear later with other dancers.  The powerful Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards sings and dances in her fabulous way.  Jared Grimes comes out near the end to tap alone with the band (The Jazz At Lincoln Center All Stara) and usher the show to an energetic conclusion.  The star, Dule Hill, was not in the performance I saw, but his replacement, David Jennings, did a good job in song and dance.  I liked the show but couldn't help thinking about the performers I've seen who were from the era depicted on stage.  Fantasia Barrino (who I confess I've heard of, but was not really familiar with) did a heck of a job singing "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "Stormy Weather", with a real good honest feel to it, without the extra embellishments I can't stand that so many contemporary singers do nowadays.  It did trigger memories of seeing Lena Horne sing those songs (well at least "Stormy") live in her one woman show years ago and, as I took in Fantasia, I felt a continuum of spirit from Lena to her.  The talent was great, the choreography was okay, but did not have the flavor and nuance of the era it was depicting, none of the dynamics that make you go, "Yeah!"  I must say that the best part of the show is when some of the band members cut loose on their own with some solos that for me somehow had the strongest legitimate feel of the whole afternoon.  Check out the show.  You can get rush partial-view tickets the day of the show for $37, which I did and the seat was fine because it's a relatively small theater.  Here's a taste of the show below:

This past Sunday, I saw a film about two masters of percussive dance.  The film is the documentary, "Upaj: Improvise", and focuses on the collaboration of Jason Samuels Smith and Pundit Chitresh Das.  Smith, as many of you know, is one of the great tap dancers out there today and Das is the master of kathak, the classical dance of North India.  In this film you see the meshing of two cultures and the relationship of two men passionate about what they do.  The film follows them on their journeys  performing in India and here in the states.  It is quite interesting and informative, with moments that just may touch you in surprising ways.  After the screening there was a short live performance of the two men that was incredible to watch.  Surprisingly, they have performed their full show almost everywhere in the U.S. except New York City!  The event was held at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts in front of an enthusiastic crowd.  Next Monday, January 20th, the film will be shown on PBS as an episode of Afropop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange at 8pm, so check you listing.  I believe in the NYC area it will be on WLIW21.  Set your DVR!  Watch the Afropop preview below:

At the end of the month I plan on seeing "Tap or Die", a documentary that will be shown at the Dance On Camera dance film festival.  I've heard some things about the film, so I want to see it for myself.  If you want to see it, Jan. 31st is the date at the Waler Reade Theater, by Lincoln Center.  Screening is at 3:30pm.  Maybe I'll see you there!