Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #79

Contents

BATTLE COACHES NY FINALIST

DENZEL TAKES CHARGE IN “ELI”

“HARRIET JACOBS” A MUST SEE!

THE GOOD NEGRO IS. . . . GREAT!

STORY OF COMPOSER McHUGH SINGS

JEFF BRIDGES’ OSCAR BUZZ PERFORMANCE

UP-COMING EVENTS & COMMUNITY INFO


BATTLE COACHES NY FINALIST

by Kay Bourne

(pictured: DeAma Battle)

050aad9ff05efda69956025b86bb1acc.85.124 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #79Not all coaches pace on the side lines.

The founder of the Art of Black Dance and Music, African dance anthropologist DeAMA BATTLE of Somerville was sent recently to South Beach for a week where 140 teen artists were buffing their skills. She had been invited, all expenses paid, to give pointers to a single artist, Nayilah Antoine of Brooklyn, NY, who’d made it to the finals of the 2010 Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Antoine started out as one of 4000 hopeful candidates for the YoungArts competition, a program of the privately funded National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, based in Miami.

By the time she was readying for the finals, she was one of one hundred and forty 17 and 18-year-olds competing. Twenty of them will go to the White House in a program that disperses $500,000 in monetary awards and eligibility for $3 million in scholarship opportunities. Past participants include actress Vanessa Williams, the executive director of the American Ballet Theatre Rachel Moore, novelist Allegra Goodman, and Tony award nominated dancer/choreographer Desmond Richardson.

First off, Antoine had to winnow done to the dance she would do before the judges. All of them were from the old Mali Empire; she chose the Mandiani.

“It’s a coming of age dance for young women,” said Battle approvingly of the traditional choreography.

Battle comments that Antoine’s strengths in this presentation are that “she jumps out and engages with the audience from start to finish. That’s what this dance is about, involving the audience.”

Battle added that as the week went on, Antoine grew stronger in her presentation. “Her face had gone blank part way through; now her facial expressions are alive throughout. And she has learned ways to slow the movement down in order to breathe properly.”

Twenty-one dancers had made it to the finals representing Classical Indian, ballet, jazz, choreography, modern, Irish Step, and tap, and there were notable coaches in each of the areas including ballet’s Edward Villella and choreographer of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Mark Godden. The nine disciplines in the arts represented were jazz, musical instruments, photography, theater (Liv Ullmann was one of the coaches), visual arts, voice, and writing.

Battle currently teaches at the Boston Conservatory of Music, Dance, and Theater, the Parkway Academy in West Roxbury, and an elders program in Cambridge through a grant from the Cambridge Arts Council. She is also archiving African rooted dances in a film documentary.

Art of Black Dance and Music website


DENZEL TAKES CHARGE IN “ELI”

by Joseph Crowley © 2010

b2ef47fb61883ec8212cf17e785f75e0.124.93 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #79THE BOOK OF ELI shows us why DENZEL WASHINGTON is both a respected Oscar-winning actor and a Movie Star. His presence and pure talent come through loud and clear in this intriguing film.

Set in post-apocalyptic America, Washington travels West to deliver an (initially unnamed) book. He’s been doing this for thirty years – with forces against him, conspiring to end his travels. A cross between a great episode of “The Twilight Zone” and one of the more entertaining science fiction films of the 1970′s (think “The Omega Man”), THE BOOK OF ELI has lots of action, great set design, some fun, over-the-top acting (Gary Oldman), a subtle turn by Jennifer Beals, and the young Mila Kunis in a good supporting role.

Stark, serious, but never boring, and moving at a steady pace – THE BOOK OF ELI is a fun night out at the movies. The Hughes Brothers have directed with a sure hand, pulling off a great popcorn movie, with plenty of action and laughs as well (Frances de la Tour and Michael Gambon as a quirky elderly couple, all too eager to invite Washington to dinner, are hilarious).

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