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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: George Lugg
Interim Deputy Director
412.363.3000 x211
george@kelly-strayhorn.org


Kelly Strayhorn Theater Presents
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble

Features Dances by Millicent Johnnie, David Rousseve and More


 

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 4, 2016)—Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is proud to present the Pittsburgh debut of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, the legendary Denver-based company that has been touring the world for more than 40 years. The program features a newly commissioned work by rising dance-star Millicent Johnnie, along with favorites from the Ensemble's extraordinary repertory, including dances by David Rousseve and Theo Jamison, and will be performed Friday and Saturday, February 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. at Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Tickets are Pay What Makes You Happy, allowing audiences to pay any price for a ticket, and are available online at www.kelly-strayhorn.org, by phone at 412-363-3000 or at the door.

The evening includes favorite works from the company's repertory, along with its most recent work, Bamboula: Musicians' Brew by Millicent Johnnie, commissioned by KST and Dance Place, DC. Set to live music by Charles Vincent Burwell, Bamboula: Musicians’ Brew, Johnnie's complex exploration traverses the world of African survivals—and excavates connections between the colorful traditions of the Mardi Gras Zulu Krewe and South Africa’s Minstrel Carnival.

Dry Each Others Tears in the Stillness of the Night, (YR) choreographed by David Rousséve, depicts Cleo Parker Robinsons early life, as told by her father—Denver’s first recognized African-American actor. Danced to traditional African music and popular artists like Public Enemy and Jackie Wilson, Tear charts the experiences of an interracial social-activist family during a highly intolerant time in American history.

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble is an internationally acclaimed cross-cultural, dance-arts and educational institution rooted in African American traditions. The 45 year-old company comes to Pittsburgh for the first time, performing a series of dances that illuminate cultural histories and traditions. In addition to her professional dance ensemble, Ms. Robinson leads a company, a Youth Ensemble, a School of Dance, an International Summer Dance Institute, a 240 seat theatre that bears her name, and a myriad of community outreach programs.
 

DETAILS
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble — Bamboula: Musicians’ Brew and other works

Friday, February 19 & Saturday, February 20, 2016
8p :: Doors Open at 7p
Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave :: Map
Pay What Makes You Happy

Master Class Workshop
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
10am-12pm :: Complimentary artist lunch follows
KST’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave
Pay What Makes You Happy

 

Made possible in part with support from the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Program, a partnership of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, and the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Bamboula: Musicians' Brew is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Dance Place in partnership with Kelly Strayhorn Theater and NPN. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). The Forth Fund is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information: www.npnweb.org.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Cleo Parker Robinson
is the founder, executive artistic director and choreographer of the 45-year-old Denver-based artistic institution, CLEO PARKER ROBINSON DANCE. She leads a professional dance Ensemble and second company, a Youth Ensemble, a School of Dance, an International Summer Dance Institute, a 240 seat theatre that bears her name, and a myriad of community outreach programs. She continues to be the recipient of honors and awards from civic, community, and artistic organizations around the world, and is called on by a myriad of organizations and performance venues to bring her Ensembles for performances, and to conduct workshops, master classes, and motivational seminars. Her philosophy of “One Spirit, Many Voices” is reflected in all she does, and is the vision she brings to everyone she meets, everywhere she goes. A master teacher/choreographer, and cultural ambassador she  has taught and performed with her Ensemble in such diverse places as Iceland, Singapore, Hawaii, Nassau, Belize, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, throughout Europe, and throughout the African continent.  People of all ages and backgrounds have participated in Ms. Parker Robinson’s workshops and masterclasses at conservatories, universities and neighborhood dance centers worldwide. Ms. Parker Robinson’s awards include the Colorado’s Governor’s Award for Excellence (1974), Denver’s Mayor’s Award (1979), induction into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame (1989) and the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame (1994).  Recognized in “Who’s Who in America Colleges and Universities” she holds Honorary Doctorate from Denver University (1991), an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Colorado College (2003), and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Regis University in Denver (2008).  Ms. Parker Robinson was a long-standing member of the Board of Directors for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and in 1998 Cleo Parker Robinson Dance became an affiliate of the Center. 

Millicent Johnnie (Choreographer). Millicent Johnnie’s works have been staged world-wide on award-winning stages including The Public Theater in New York City, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the National Black Arts Festival, Bam Harvey Theater in Brooklyn, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Gammage Theatre, and in South Africa, Brazil, and India. Her dance company credits include Urban Bush Women, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Dallas Black Dance Theater. She has worked closely with acclaimed opera directors Robert Wilson and Peter Sellars, theatre directors John O’Neal, Rhodessa Jones, Will Power and Liesl Tommy and award-winning composers Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Justin Ellington. Johnnie has directed and choreographed "West Side Story" co-produced by University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and Southern Methodist University, "Rent" produced by Ferndale Repertory Theater (receiving a "Best Director" award and "Best Musical" award in California). The commercial industry is another arena to which she has adapted her talents, working with artists Usher Raymond, Chrisette Michele, Bill Summers (Los Hombres Calientes), Lord Jamar (Brand Nubian), Tekeitha Wisdom (Wu-Tang), celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion and staging opening acts for artists like Dave Chapelle (Tallahassee Civic Center) and Angélique Kidjo (National Black Arts Festival). She choreographed the feature film “Scary Movie 5”, directed by Malcolm D. Lee and produced by David Zucker, which opened in summer 2013. More recently, Johnnie has been commissioned by Disney to choreograph Frozen: The Musical, soon to open at the Hyperion Theater.

David Rousséve (Choreographer, Writer, Director and Performer) creates dance/theatre pieces which combine original non-linear narrative, engaged, propulsive movement and bursts of bold, poetic visual imagery. Creating work primarily for REALITY, his racially and sexually diverse troupe of seven performers, Rousséve draws upon what he calls the "accessibility and grit" of both traditional and pop African-American culture and his "downtown" sensibility. Just as he conjures his movement vocabulary from modern, classical, hip-hop and release techniques, so he weaves - and transforms - diverse audiences and the relation between movement, image and text. For Rousséve, the point of making work is to take himself, his dancers, and his audience, to places they might not, otherwise, be able to go.


ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER
Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) uses the arts as a catalyst for community revitalization, and plays a key role in the transformation of East Liberty and nearby neighborhoods. In its 14th year as an organization, and eighth season of original programming, KST continues to demonstrate its commitment to Pittsburgh artists and audiences, supporting the presentation of risk-taking new work by emerging artists and arts organizations. KST operates two professionally-equipped venues along the Penn Avenue arts corridor. The historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater (formerly the Regent Theatre, 1914) is a 350-seat multi-arts venue, and the last survivor of East Liberty’s nine original theaters. Noted Pittsburghers and KST namesakes Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn are among the 80 area artists honored in the theater’s Gallery of Stars. Just blocks away, KST’s Alloy Studios play host to intimate performance events and provide creative space for artist residencies, Alloy School dance classes, and performance rehearsals, as well as community art and music programs.

 

Major funding for KST Presents is provided by The Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Benter Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and Allegheny Regional Asset District.

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