MoBBallet’s Roll Call is a list of professional black ballet dancers that today features 301 names and is growing as black ballet artists submit their names. The site also houses an E–Zine that features insights on issues affecting both the ballet world and society such as diversity and inclusion –and a timeline that spans the history of black ballet from 1919 to present day.
DANCER AND EDUCATOR THERESA RUTH HOWARD LAUNCHES MOBBALLET: A DIGITAL ARCHIVE PRESERVING THE LEGACY OF BLACK BALLET
Initiative Creates a Shift in Perspective on the Current Conversation around Diversity in Ballet through Stories of Current and Past Black Professional Ballet Dancers
Dancer Theresa Ruth Howard announces the launch of Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet (MoBBallet), a groundbreaking legacy project documenting and transforming conversations around black ballet artists. The initiative will focus on bringing visibility to the lesser-known history of black ballet dancers around the world through video profiles, essays and archival data which capture the artistry and humanity of black ballet dancers. At launch, MoBBallet’s website houses a community sourced Roll Call which lists the names of black ballet dancers past and present, a digital timeline that places historical moments in black ballet history next to key events in world history, and an E-Zine that sheds light on issues affecting the ballet community and society at large.
The recipient of a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, MoBBallet’s first anchor project, the Philadelphia Project, will document the stories of four Philadelphia trained black ballerinas— including Joan Myers Brown, founder of The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO!), Delores Browne from the New York Negro Ballet Company and Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Coinciding with the launch of MoBBallet, founder Theresa Ruth Howard will serve as keynote speaker at Dutch National Ballet’s Positioning Ballet conference on February 11th, where she will officially introduce MoBBallet’s mission to promote larger discussions within the international dance community around the stories of black ballet dancers. A select group of leading artistic directors from America, Europe, Asia and Russia have been invited to attend the conference.
“Diversity in Ballet in America is a very specific challenge given our racial history” remarks Howard. “The histories and demographics of each of the companies that will be represented during Positioning Ballet are just as specific. This is an unprecedented opportunity to see and hear what their issues are regarding diversity in the field.”
To date, MoBBallet has captured over 301 names to the Roll Call and calls for professional black ballet dancers not already on the list to add their names. MoBBallet’s archival information covers important moments in the history of black ballet from 1919 to present day.
ABOUT MOBBALLET Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet (MoBBallet) is a non-profit organization that is building a digital archive where the history of blacks in professional ballet can be preserved. Founded by ballerina Theresa Ruth Howard, MoBBallet facilitates authentic dialogues on diversity, equality and aesthetics through workshops, panels and video profiles of both iconic and emerging black ballet dancers. The online archive provides timelines of important moments in the history of black ballet and juxtaposes them against key moments in world history. The Roll Call initiative is an ever-expanding list of black ballet dancers past and present –E-Zine brings visibility to issues that loom large in both the ballet world and society such as diversity and inclusion.
ABOUT THERESA RUTH HOWARD Founder of MoBBallet, Theresa Ruth Howard is an expert and advocate on the issue of diversity in Ballet. She has sat on panels for Dance/USA, Dance/NYC, Collegium for African Diaspora Dance at Duke University, and collaborated with International Association of Blacks in Dance in the planning and facilitation of the first Ballet Audition for female ballet dancers of color. A former member of the Dance Theater of Harlem, and Armitage Gone! Dance, Howard has worked extensively with choreographer Donald Byrd, and was a guest artist with Complexions Contemporary Ballet. As a contributor to Pointe, Expressions (Italy), Tanz (Germany) and dance media publications, Howard has emerged as a clear and defining voice on topics such as body image and race. She holds more than 17 years of experience as a dance educator including Ballet Faculty at the Ailey School.
The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series will celebrate its 18th Anniversary with 30 films by women of color from across the globe and honor actresses Jessica Williams (The Daily Show With Jon Stewart) and Ebony Jo-Ann (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). The festival will be held at LIU Brooklyn from October 24-25, 2015. For information visit www.reelsisters.org or call 212-865-2982.
Film lovers can enjoy great films and meet indie filmmakers. Festival highlights include screenings of JIMMY GOES TO NOLLYWOOD, MARY LOU WILLIAMS: THE LADY WHO SWINGS THE BAND, THE ART OF AMA ATA AIDOO AND FORGIVING CHRIS BROWN.
The closing night gala on Oct. 25 will feature performances by comedy troupe American Candy and other talents.
LIU Brooklyn on Flatbush Ave. between DeKalb Ave.
and Willoughby St.
Tickets at www.reelsisters.org
Jimmy Goes to Nollywood
The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo
Mary Lou Williams
Forgiving Chris Brown
Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series Welcomes Centric as Key Sponsor & Partner
Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series is proud to announce a partnership with Centric, a BET Network, to support scholarships for our award-winning filmmakers and help the festival present 30 films produced, directed and written by women of color across the globe. Reel Sisters will be held from Oct. 25 to 26 at LIU Brooklyn with an awards ceremony on Sunday evening where cash awards will be given to six women for outstanding films that celebrate family bonds and challenge stereotypes. For information Reel Sisters visit www.reelsisters.org.
CENTRIC PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT!
As a key sponsor for Reel Sisters’ 17th Annual Film Festival, Centric will offer exclusive coverage of the festival on its website, CentricTV.com, including filmmaker interviews. Reel Sisters will screen such inspirational films as Hands to Sky, Catch Them & They’re Yours, a film about a man with autism fighting to raise his younger brother after his mom’s death to The Summer of Gods, a short film on a young girl embracing her spiritual heritage when she is visited by the Orishas (African Gods) in a Brazilian village.
“We are honored to partner with Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series and provide scholarships for women of color in film,” said Depelsha McGruder, Senior Vice President of Business Operations, Centric. “As the network for Black women, we look forward to building and growing relationships with organizations that cater to and reflect our audience.”
Founded in 1997 by African Voices magazine and LIU Brooklyn, Reel Sisters is the first Brooklyn-based festival devoted to women of color filmmakers. The festival has enriched the city with more than 500 films by women of African, Caribbean, Latino, Asian, Indian, and Native American descent and awarded over $7,000 in scholarships to women filmmakers. The groundbreaking festival has influenced other media organizations to launch initiatives that help Black women gain access to directing jobs in Hollywood and bring independent film projects to life.
“Reel Sisters is honored to have Centric, The First Network Designed for Black Women, provide a platform for us to share and celebrate our stories,” said Carolyn A. Butts, founder of Reel Sisters. “We’re thrilled to live in a time where our daughters can turn on the TV each night and enjoy images that affirm their beauty and brilliance. Our goal is aligned with Centric’s trailblazing efforts to ensure that doors for Black women in film and television continue to open.”
The Reel Sisters Film Festival is supported, in part, by Councilmember Jumaane Williams, 45 C.D., Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, 35 C.D., the National Endowment for the Arts (Art Works), the New York State Council on the Arts, Centric, Brooklyn Arts Council, LIU Brooklyn and New York City Dept. of Cultural Affairs. Media sponsors include Akila Worksongs, Imagination Cinema Foundation, CINEMATIQ Magazine, SYM-Magazine and The Network Journal.
On Sunday, October 26 at 6 pm, Centric will join Reel Sisters in presenting awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Documentary, Best Cinematography Best Short, Best Experimental and the Reel Sisters Spirit Award. The awards ceremony will be held at LIU’s Kumble Theater in Brooklyn, NY. For schedule visit www.reelsisters.org.
Below is a short description of the Reel Sisters award-winning films.
REEL SISTERS SPIRIT AWARD & BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY AWARD:
The Summer of Gods
Length: 20:28 min Category: Narrative Director/Producer: Eliciana Nascimento
A troubled young girl named Lili unites with her Afro-Brazilian religious ancestry on a summer visit with family to their ancestral village in rural Northeast Brazil. Soon after her arrival, she encounters Orishas (African Gods) who join with her grandmother to help her find peace with a gift that has previously vexed her.
BEST DIRECTOR AWARD & BEST SCREENPLAY AWARD:
Hands to the Sky, Catch Them & They’re Yours
Length: 17:45 min Category: Narrative
Director: Kimberly Townes Producer: Theodore Perkins
An autistic man fights to prove, to himself and to the court, his ability to provide for his younger brother after the sudden passing of their mother.
BEST EXPERIMENTAL AWARD:
Length: 4:30 min. Category: Animated, Experimental Director/Producer: Neelu Bhuman
Basic dignity of queer people in India is under attack, yet again. The Section 377 law is re-enacted to criminalize “gay sex” in India. While the law and the Supreme Court date themselves back a few hundred years, an Indian mother has her knowledge of “gay sex” in mint condition, wheeling out a tidbit or two for her heartbroken queer daughter.
BEST SHORT AWARD:
You’re Dead to Me
Length: 12:45 min. Category: Narrative
Director: Wu Tsang Producer: Melissa Haizlip
A grieving Chicana mother confronts an uninvited family member before her Dia de los Muertos celebration.
BEST NARRATIVE AWARD:
Length: 24:24 min. Category: Narrative
Director: Skyler Cooper Producer: Maria Breaux
A down-and-out actor gets the chance of a lifetime to audition for a world-class theater company, but she struggles with misconceptions, ignorance and hostility in her quest to gain acceptance.
BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD:
At a Distance
Length: 7:03 min. Category: Documentary Director/Producer: Baqir Rezaie
Abiha is 7. She lives on the outskirts of Quetta in Pakistan. Her father has fled to Australia and she misses him terribly. Her home has been bombed and her mother is trying to reunite the family while supporting her children as a schoolteacher. Abiha’s life in this dangerous Hazara community is tumultuous, but she continues to dream of becoming an artist one day.
Public Art Fund Talks at The New School: Hank Willis Thomas
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm
PUBLIC CONTEXT, PRIVATE MEANING
The public realm offers unique possibilities to consider how personal experiences with artworks intersect with their broader social and cultural contexts. The Fall 2015 Public Art Fund Talks at The New School series brings together three artists who address this relationship in different ways. Jeppe Hein’s interactive and experiential public sculptures invite audiences to actively engage with the work. Intimate bench sculptures become private spaces where a pair of friends might perch, while large labyrinths of mirrors and water sculptures encourage the public to participate as a group. Hank Willis Thomas mines popular culture to expose dominant power structures and reveal the subjective nature of how we see and understand the world around us. His investigation of the nature of truth across cultures connects the personal with our broader public experience. Fiona Banner’s works often present a dual experience, using recognizable forms as representations of a more private narrative based on a particular subject of research. While the nature of looking at all art is inherently subjective, public space provides a unique context for examining the personal experience of art in connection with the broader cultural landscape.
HANK WILLIS THOMAS
Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas’s conceptually-based practice addresses the relationships between identity, media, and popular culture through sculpture, installation, photography, and performance. Often appropriating and recontextualizing common symbols, objects, and brands, Thomas’ work points to the assumptions and biases that frame our experience of public space, others, and ourselves. Coinciding with both the inclusion of Thomas’ sculpture Liberty in Public Art Fund’s group exhibition Image Objects in City Hall Park and his solo show, The Truth is I See You in Downtown Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center, the artist will speak about his repeated engagement with the public and outdoor space. For The Truth is I See You, speech bubbles of various shapes feature texts in different languages and reveal lines of a poem written by Thomas and collaborator Ryan Alexiev. Accompanying this installation will be a pop-up presentation of In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth), a collaboration between the artist, Alexiev, and Jim Ricks of the Cause Collective. This mobile interactive video recording booth has previously been installed in locales such as South Africa, Afghanistan, and Chicago. Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, New Jersey) lives and works in New York City. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Ford Lauderdale (2015), the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa (2014), the International Center for Photography, New York (2013), and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2011). His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Art and Design, and MoMA PS1, all in New York. In 2011, he participated in the Venice Biennale and the Istanbul Biennial. His work is held in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Brooklyn Museum. He received a BFA in Photography and Africana Studies from New York University in 1998, and in 2004 an MA in Visual Criticism as well as an MFA in Photography, from the California College of the Arts. Thomas is represented by Galerie Anne de Villepoix in Paris, Galerie Henrik Springmann in Düsseldorf, Germany, the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.
The Public Art Fund Talks at The New School are organized by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. This program is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth)
Courtesy of the Cause Collective
Eco-Music Big Band: Sun Ra Opera and CelebrationPeter Jay Sharp Building
Sep 26, 2015
Concept by Fred Ho
Music by Fred Ho, with Marie Incontrera
Libretto by Quincy Troupe
Directed by Virginia Grise
Conducted by Marie Incontrera
The dynamic ensemble Eco-Music Big Band presents the world premiere of scenes from the free-jazz opera Mr. Mystery: The Return of Sun Ra to Save Planet Earth! by late composer Fred Ho.
BRC30: BRC Orchestra Celebrates Band of GypsysPeter Jay Sharp Building
Sep 18—Sep 19, 2015
The Black Rock Coalition Orchestra presents a special tribute to Jimi Hendrix and his seminal 1970 album Band of Gypsys, breathing new life into this era-defining music.
Performances today: 9pm
FROM THE BRC WEBSITE:
For the 30th Anniversary, we’re spending 30 days straight in praise of the BLACK ROCK COALITION and our members. Check it out (everything is subject to change):
Every Monday: On Membership Mondays, we will feature members through our social networks. If you’re a member, keep an eye out for your profile questionnaire.
Every Tuesday: Free rehearsal space and spontaneous rock commune for BRC members and our friends, Funkadelic Studios, 12-6p. RSVP to BRC30@blackrockcoalition.org by noon on the Monday before to guarantee space, otherwise it’s first come, first served. Rock commune (jam sessions) are open to everyone and available during unreserved time.
Every Wednesday: We’ll look back on the 30 years since the BRC was founded and share some milestones in the culture, in the music, in the organization, and in our lives. Look for it on social networks.
Other highlights: Th3 BRC Happy Hour (at Duff’s Brooklyn, 168 Marcy Ave btw S5th and Broadway, Brooklyn), 5-9p
F4 Launch of Booster.org Campaign for Limited Edition BRC 30th Anniversary T-Shirts
Su6 BRC 30th Anniversary Kick-Off Party, The Bell House (149 7th St, Brooklyn), w/ Corey Glover & Vernon Reid, our youngest member-band Unlocking The Truth, Betty Black, and DJ SugarFreeBK. Concert from 7-10p, $15. Free after-party with performances by BRC family band Burnt Sugar, The Veldt and DJ CX KiDTRONiK. FREE (with food, while it lasts) from 10p-1a.
Th10 30 Years of BRC, Part 2 on Musical Chairs, WBAI-NY 99.5fm, 10p-12a
F11 National Support Black Rock Night (all members in Chicago go to Riot Fest to see Living Colour, Fishbone and Death; all members in NYC go to see 24/7 Spyz with Dope Sagittarius at The Living Room; other shows to be announced)
Sa12 BRC Team (The Riotous Guttersnipes) at Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls‘ Bowl-A-Thon to raise money for our Original Rocker Scholarships
Su13 BRC Open Ears Listening and Archiving Party, The Black Rose (117 Avenue A, NYC), 7-10p
Th17 Black Rock & Reel: BRC Performance Highlights (1985-2015), Imagenation‘s RAW Space (2031 Adam Clayton Powell btw 121st and 122nd), 6-11p
F18 BRC Orchestra plays Band Of Gypsys @ BAMcafe (30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn), featuring special guests Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, Ronny Drayton, Stew, Sophia Ramos, Kelsey Warren, Andre Lassalle, and more, FREE, 9p
Sa19 BRC Orchestra plays Band Of Gypsys @ BAMcafe (30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn), featuring special guests Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, Stew, Andre Lassalle, Maritri Garrett, Kelsey Warren, Marcus Machado and more, FREE, 9p
Su20 BRC Vocal Clinic @ Willie Mae Music Lab, 1-4p with Corey Glover of Living Colour and others, Free for members of BRC and WMRC communities, $10 for everyone else.
Th24 Great Day In Black Rock Photo Session (location TBD)
F25 Open submissions for Rock ‘n’ Roll Reparations, V. 3: The Million Man Mosh Edition
Sa26 BRC Friends & Family Day (w/ partner organizations & associates) TBD
Su27 Million Man Mosh 3 @ The Wind Up Space, Baltimore, 2-7p with Tamar-kali, Thaylo Bleu, Throwdown Syndicate and community activist leaders (TBD)
Will you join us?
We all know the story…Once upon a time there was a band of immensely talented musicians fronted by Sophia Ramos and Mike Ciro. That band screamed their way through NYC, got noticed, got signed, got a record made, and then got the shaft from their label for being ‘unsellable’ (apparently in their eyes, black and brown people in a rock band presented a marketing challenge they weren’t ready to accept). Fast-forward 20 years, and they’re back—shelved album in hand—to remind everyone of why they turned so many heads in the first place. If you weren’t there and weren’t able to get your hands on “SHOT IN THE HEAD,” at the one-and-only reunion of SOPHIA’S TOY, let us know and we’ll see if we can direct you to the right people. Needless to say, they killed it. And justified their reputation as bad-asses as did BRC stalwarts MilitiA. Vox and pILLOW tHEORY. JULY 9, 2015.
‘Sisters, Songwriters & Sirens’ celebrates the important and often under-appreciated contributions Black women make to culture through music, expression, perspective, and visibility. Heading overseas for a 6-show, 12-day tour of France, this was the third time our host Chateauvallon had called upon the talents of our all-female lineup to bring audiences to their feet in the name of Nina, Tina, Betty, Rosetta, Abbey, Big Mama, Maybelle, Aretha, Memphis Minnie, Miriam, Maxayn, Joan, Grace, Chaka, Jayne, Nona and Sugar Pie…not to mention originals by members of the killer Orchestra led by powerhouse Tamar-kali. The 2 performances at Chateauvallon sold out, Paris had a respectable crowd for a three-night residence, but we killed in Lyon—selling out the 1200 seat venue and having the people on their feet screaming for more by the 7th song. We hope to be welcomed back soon…
With Man Mosh I and II, (which we could not have done without generous performances from Living Colour, 24-7 Spyz, Ronny Drayton and Reverend Kim Leslie, Nona Hendryx, Burnt Sugar, DJ Afrika Bambaataa, The Sugarhill Gang, and others), we were able to bring folks together, call attention to the issue of unjust incarceration, and help raise money for Donovan Drayton’s Legal Defense Fund (glad he’s finally home!).
With Million Man Mosh III, we continued the spirit of community-building and action-taking with performances from the very-vocal Tamar-kali, Garland Jeffreys, andDragons of Zynth with Saul Williams. This time, the focus was on policing and the need for loud and progressive voices for change.
“That the BRC is still here, and still needed,
was pressed home every time [Corey] Glover sang
‘Enough is never enough.’ Because the work is never done.
But the rock is worth the battle.”
—David Fricke, RollingStone.com, 2010
Dear Friends and Family,
Thank You. Your support and contributions over the years have helped us achieve many community-building things on behalf of progressive Black artists and, as a volunteer-run, member-driven, nonprofit, we honestly cannot do it without you. We don’t pat ourselves on the back too often, but we have done a lot to be proud of over these past few years:
- Our BRC ORCHESTRA, bridge-building collaborations between rotating groups of world-class musicians, performed Deep Roots of Rock and Roll (Lincoln Center Out of Doors), a Salute to Richie Havens (BAMcafe), our Tribute to Black Women Songwriters (BIGSAS Festival, Germany), a 3-show residence celebrating Carlos Santana, Grace Jones, and Motown (Joe’s Pub), and the self-produced Gathering for Gil Scott-Heron (Symphony Space) in collaboration with Heron’s Estate.
- Our BRC SHOWCASES gave musicians space to perform their own material at events such as Blunt Force Trauma, a presentation of proto-punk band DEATH, and Million Man Mosh 1&2 (featuring Living Colour, 24-7 Spyz, Ronny Drayton, and Nona Hendryx, among others).
- BRC COMMUNITY, BRC UNIVERSITY, and BRC RECORDS saw us partner with several like-minded groups and artists like Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls(we’ve provided several “Original Rocker” scholarships for campers), MAPP International and Lincoln Center Institute for our Blink Your Eyes: Poets To Music show in honor of late BRC pioneer Sekou Sundiata, Laina Dawes (author of What Are You Doing Here?)with whom we produced a compilation featuring women in heavy metal, punk and hard rock, Jeremy Xido (whose documentaryDeath Metal Angola we supported with after-parties featuring Unlocking The Truth, FunkFace, The Dust Rays, Year Of The Dragon, MilitiA Vox and DJ SugarfreeBK), and Rock ‘n’ Roll Reparations, v2, our 25th Anniversary collection featuring music from 25 down-for-the-cause artists.All-in-all, we’ve employed almost 300 musicians and reached over 10,000 people on two continents in the last 4 years alone.
But as Nina Simone lamented, we’ve still got so terribly far to go. As we enter our30th Anniversary, it’s painfully obvious why we need to keep going. Too many Black voices are still not being heard. As a grassroots, arts-support organization, it is our Mission to serve an artistic community of outsiders, fighters, warriors, griots, contrarians, pioneers, and culture mongers of color, so they can serve the world.
To do that, we need your help.
This year, we want to overhaul our website. We want to take a panel and some bands to SXSW. We want to send our BRC Orchestra on an international tour. We want to release our most ambitious compilation album to date. We want to create a series of showcases for local and domestic bands. We want to resurrect our internet radio channels. We want to give grants to bands. We want to continue our scholarship program with Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. We want to have a knock-down, drag-out Damn-Has-It-Really-Been-30-Years? party. We want to publish a book. We want to bring our community together for more networking and face time. We want to take our Million Man Mosh platform to any state that needs to mobilize artists to fight injustice.
We want a lot. And every little bit you can give will help immensely.
So please, consider becoming a member. Or renewing your membership and getting more involved. Even a one-time donation of $30, in your name or someone else’s, would be greatly appreciated. And if you’re really feeling the long-term love, we even have a lifetime BRC membership for $250. That’s less than $10 a year for the next 30 years.
Thank you. Together we can make all kinds of things happen, just like we have since 1985.
President, Black Rock Coalition firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. If you’ve already given last year, please consider giving an additional donation for the Black History Month. All monetary gifts are tax-deductible and will be put toward our ambitious calendar.
P.P.S. Look for us at SXSW in March 2015.
“What started out as a bitching session,
really became more about a proactive and developmental approach to the issue,
which was, instead of talking about how we’re locked out of the Master’s house,
why don’t we just build our own? And that was when it fundamentally came together as an organization.”
—excerpt from an interview w/ Greg Tate, BRC Newsletter, 2000
Black Rock Coalition is a nonprofit organization with tax-exempt 501(c)3 status.