FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Contact Toni Shapiro-Phim: 215.726.1106)
March 20, 2006. Philadelphia, PA - The Philadelphia Folklore Project presents Dance Happens Here, a special weekend of events celebrating the artistry of award-winning local dancers of diverse traditions on Friday, May 26th and Saturday, May 27th at the Arts Bank in Philadelphia. The weekend festival is part of PFP's long-running Dance Happens Here initiative intended to support artistic development of significant local dance artists working in folk and traditional arts. Dance Happens Here features evening performances (7:30 PM both days: $10) and FREE Saturday dance classes in Cambodian masked dance-drama with Thavro Phim and the Amatak Ensemble, for dancers of any level (11 AM - 12:30 PM), in tap dance with Germaine Ingram (11:15 AM - 12:30 PM) for intermediate and advanced tap dancers, and in West African dance and music for dancers at any level, with the Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble (1:00 - 2:30 PM). This PFP program offers evenings of dazzling dance, and a day full of opportunities to learn from artists representing aspects of distinctly local cultures.
Germaine Ingram will debut a collaboration of jazz tap dance, original music and text. She and three of Philadelphia's most accomplished hoofers (Ali Bradley, Rochelle Haynes and Corrine Karon) will partner with award-winning bassist/composer Tyrone W. Brown and his 8-piece ensemble to perform Brown's "Suite for John A. Williams," a work of six movements commissioned by the University of Rochester to honor Williams' important contributions to the body of American literature and African American writing. Readings from Williams' poetry will be woven through the music and dance. Ingram has been a tap artist, performing nationally and internationally, for more than twenty years - for much of that time with her mentor and dance partner, renowned tap artist LaVaughn Robinson. Her choreography has been performed by national tap repertory companies in venues throughout the U.S. Ingram was the recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 2004. (Download Germaine Ingram photo. Photo credit: Gabriel Bienczycki).
Thavro Phim and the other members of his Amatak Ensemble (Tonara Hing, Sovanthy Meng, Ra Soeur and Say Soeur), will present Philadelphia's first-ever performance of the Cambodian dance form known as "Lakhon khol." Lakhon khol is an all-male masked dance-drama with roots in ritual traditions. With movements derived from martial arts as well as temple and classical dance, this art form uses elaborate costumes of velvet, brocade, and sequins, and multi-colored masks representing different characters. (It takes about three hours for the performers to be sewn into costume each time.) All five dancers studied this art at what is now the Royal University of Fine Arts in Cambodia. Each immigrated to the United States within the past 15 years. Phim now lives in Philadelphia; the other four among the first generation of dancers trained in Cambodia following the revolution and genocide of the 1970s that left an estimated 80-90% of the country's professional artists dead. (Download Thavro Phim photo. Photo credit: Toni Shapiro-Phim).
The Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble will perform will perform a Guinean Drum Orchestra/Doudouba Dance. The longest-lived African dance troupe in Philadelphia, this ensemble has been a guiding force in African and African Diasporan dance in the region for more than three decades. Founded by legendary drummer Baba Robert Crowder, and now led by Dorothy Wilkie (artistic director) and John Wilkie (music director), the ensemble learns, preserves, teaches and presents a range of West African, and Afro-Caribbean dance and music. Troupe members have traveled to Cuba, Guinea, Ghana, and Senegal to study with renowned dancers and musicians. They have, individually and collectively, been awarded such honors as a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships and Apprenticeships, and grants from Dance Advance, the Independence Foundation and the Leeway Foundation. (Download Kulu Mele photo. Photo credit: Gabriel Bienczycki)
Master classes on Saturday, May 27th will engage members of the public as learners with experienced, inspiring teachers in the fine facilities of the Arts Bank. Reservations are required, as space is limited.
Dance Happens Here weekend festival is a program presented by the Philadelphia Folklore Project (PFP), a 19-year old public interest folklife agency committed to sustaining local community-based arts. The Philadelphia Folklore Project affirms the human right to cultural expression, and works to protect the rights of people to know and practice traditional and community-based arts. The PFP offers public education in the folk arts, develops community projects and documentary resources, and organizes around issues of concern in the field of folk and traditional arts.
Dance Happens Here is funded by grants from Dance Advance, a program of The Pew Charitable Trusts, administered by the University of the Arts, and by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and PFP members.
Philadelphia Folklore Project Dance Happens Here weekend festival - Germaine Ingram, Thavro Phim and Amatak, and the Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble. Friday, May 26th and Saturday, May 27th, in performance at 7:30 PM, at the Arts Bank, Broad and South Streets, Philadelphia. Tickets $10. FREE classes on Saturday, May 27th, also at the Arts Bank: 11:00-12:30, Cambodian masked dance-drama; 11:15-12:30, jazz tap dance; 1:00-2:30, West African dance. For more information, visit us at www.folkloreproject.org, or call the Philadelphia Folklore Project at 215-726-1106. (Note as of 5/26/06: Tickets are available at the door for both nights. See you there!)
Photographs and additional information (including expanded artist bios) available for press: please contact Toni Shapiro-Phim: 215-726-1106; firstname.lastname@example.org.