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Harlem's Herb Alpert Center kicks off spring dance performance

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 6/17/2013, 5:05 p.m.

I am always so happy when I can use this phrase: "June is busting out all over." And so it is. Harlem School of the Arts--the Herb Alpert Center hosted its spring dance theater performance, and all I can say is "wow." But, of course, I will say more than that as the school, its students and faculty put on a really good show. To begin with, everything was perfectly timed and organized, and that in itself says a lot.

The children, from tots to teens, were magnificent. We're talking real talent here; many of them are destined for Broadway. As dance director Aubrey Lynch stated, even if the students don't choose a life on the stage, what they gain from having studied at HSA is invaluable. Exhibiting poise, grace, stamina, perseverance, presence and, most of all, knowing how to smile will take these students a long way. They all deserve a rousing round of applause.

Condolences to the family of William Demby Jr., a resident of Sag Harbor who passed away at the age of 90. Surviving him are his wife, Barbara Morris, a former attorney for the NAACP; and son, James, currently living in Italy, where he composes and teaches music. Demby was a fascinating writer who has been quoted as saying, "I believe ... that a Black writer has the same kind of mind that writers have had all through time. He can imagine any world he wants to imagine." Two of his most popular works were "Beetlecreek," published in 1950, and "The Catacombs," published in the 1960s. He received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for lifetime achievement, which recognizes books whose themes cover racism and diversity. From what I gather, for Demby, it was more about scratching below the surface of a man as he told the story of the characters, heart, mind and soul. His stories could be anybody's stories, but Demby was quite skillful in interweaving the racial divide that plagued society.

The family of Nick Jones--his daughter, Robyn, and his son-in-law, Adrienne Moody--will gather at Gran Pietro on Friday, June 14 to celebrate his life and times. It will be followed by another send-off in Jones' hometown of Harrisburg, Penn., the very next day.

Congratulations to the graduates, including Mariah Allen, who graduated from Syracuse University. The whole family, which included her mother, Denise; grandmother, Jean DeWees; great-grandmother, Ganny; aunt, Nina DeWees; uncle, Lil' Donald DeWees, and his wife, Jewell; along with Christina, who came up from Virginia; traveled north for the celebration.

Meanwhile, traveling south was Uncle Billy Palmer, who attended the graduation of his grandson, Timothy Wright. Wright will spend six months in the Army before deciding where he will go to college. It's between Hampton University and Emory, because he has been accepted to both. Setting his sights high, Wright's goal is to become a pilot. Flying high in the friendly skies, unlike Marvin Gaye (may he rest in peace), his feet will leave the ground.

Also on the grad list are Asia and Ian Johnson, who hail from Manassas, Va. Asia will start her new job at WNBC television studios here in New York this fall as a page. Welcome to the Big Apple. Lastly is Peter Carrion from Davenport, Fla. Graduating from high school with high honors, Carrion will attend the University of Central Florida, where he will study pharmacy.