One of Harlem’s own, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre (FNDT), under the direction of co-founder and Executive Artistic Director Abdel Saalam, headlines this month’s dance calendar. FNDT opens at Theatre of Riverside Church Aug. 23-24 with Saalam’s brand of neo-African dance and a program of repertory works as well as two works in progress, all choreographed by Saalam.
The music of Salif Keita frames “Padnahs” (2011), which was built on “the concept of partnering with traditional African dance vocabulary, traditional drums and new versions of traditional movement that have come through clubs,” says Saalam.
Music is again a force in “B’Flowing…B’Smoove” (2009), where Saalam uses music by Bobby McFerrin and dedicates “B’Flowing…B’Smoove” to the legendary dancer Earl “Snake Hips” Tucker for his serpentine fluid movement, paired with the hip movement of the Haitian Voudoun Deity Dambala and finally Barack Obama’s first term in office, hoping that his 2008 election would “move smoothly.”
“Axis: Temple of Ice (2008),” a global warming-centered piece about the melting polar ice caps, follows, continuing Salaam’s “movement language fusion of the African Diaspora with contemporary movement.” Also on this season’s roster is the solo work “ER” (1996), described by Saalam as “the seminal section of the larger work, ‘October Ashes Fallen Doves,’ about my mother’s life when she was the head of the emergency room in the 1960s.”
Rounding out the evening are two works in progress, “Seven” and “Fallen Idols.” “Seven” breaks the norm of African music by dancing and drumming in a seven meter, as opposed to an even beat, and offers a social and political statement about Black-on-Black crime and how one can use dance and music to heal.
In “Fallen Idols,” a work dedicated to his dance mother, Joan Miller, Salaam aims to follow her directive to “set his own rules, but then break them.” For “Fallen,” he began by using a contemporary movement vocabulary that was then deconstructed, but, says Salaam, “because I can’t do anything without theme and story…within the movement my desire to comment on things in our society that are either held in the highest regard or esteem, [for example] a recurrent theme of women as the goddess and as healers, that have fallen, [are included].”
At 31 years of age, Saalam noted, “Forces is ecstatic about the support that our audiences have given, and we will continue to discover and present work that stimulates conversation, at times controversy, but move our thinking forward in a desire to build a better community and a better world through constant dialogue.” For more information, visit www.forcesofnature.org.
ALSO THIS MONTH
Aug. 1-18: Don’t miss dance as part of the SummerStage around New York at Central Park, Marcus Garvey Park, East River Park or a park near you. Artists featured include Camille A. Brown & Dancers; Malcolm Low–Formal Structure; MoralesDance; Kulu Mele African Dance and Drum Ensemble; MBDance; Niles Ford Dance Collective; and so many more. For more information, visit www.cityparksfoundation.org.
Aug. 4: Dancing in the Streets presents the Hip Hop Generation Next Block Party in the Bronx, hosted by hip-hop pioneer Jorge “Popmaster Fabel” Pabon and Brandon “Peace” Albright with his company Illstyle & Peace Productions, who will also perform and lead dance lessons and ciphers. For more information, visit www.dancinginthestreets.org.
Aug. 5: Lincoln Center Out of Doors, in collaboration with the Center for Traditional
Music and Dance, presents “Heritage Sunday.” This year’s theme is “Ayiti Rasanble!” (“Haiti, come together!”) and features artists celebrating the spirit of the Caribbean, including Feet of Rhythm; the Afro-Haitian Dance Company under founder Nadia Dieudonne; music from Haiti’s neza Lafontant’s Kongo; and Artistic Director Peniel Guerrier of Tamboula d’Haits joining Kongo. See many more performances on the impressive roster that runs through Aug. 12. For more information, visit LCOutofDoors.org.
Aug. 10: Tap dancer extraordinaire Maurice Chestnut and his “Above Ground Project” presents Acoustic Sole in New Jersey at the Paterson Museum. For more information, email email@example.com.
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