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Black Dance Stories and 651 ARTS honor Black History Month

Black Dance Stories with Jason Samuels Smith, Charmaine Warren and Camille A. Brown. Photo courtesy of Black Dance Stories.
Black Dance Stories with Jason Samuels Smith, Charmaine Warren and Camille A. Brown. Photo courtesy of Black Dance Stories.

Black Dance Stories and 651 ARTS, Brooklyn’s premier institution for the African Diasporic performing arts, has announced that they will partner to co-present the next iteration of the popular Black Dance Story series for the spring 2021 season. The new partnership reflects Black Dance Stories’ commitment to support, uphold, highlight and celebrate Black creatives and will mark the first time 651 is presenting  an online series as part of its suite of programming. 

Charmaine Warren. Photo by Tony Turner.
Charmaine Warren. Photo by Tony Turner.

Under the partnership, Black Dance Stories, in association with 651 ARTS, will launch a new season of episodes featuring groundbreaking choreographers, dancers, arts leaders and educators who use their work to raise societal issues and strengthen community through dance. The new season kicked off on January 21, with Paloma McGregor and Yusha-Marie Sorzano, followed by dance legend Bill T. Jones and Darrell Grand Moultrie on January 28. 

In February, the series will honor Black History Month with a month’s lineup of dance educators, including Sharron Miller, Torya Beard, Dr. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Coco Killingsworth and more. These special episodes feature three guests conversing with host Charmaine Warren instead of the usual two guest format. The series streams live on YouTube on Thursdays at 6pm EST.

Conceived and co-created by performer, producer and dance writer Charmaine Warren, the weekly discussion series showcases and initiates conversations that explore history and social issues and highlight the African Diaspora’s humanity in the mysterious and celebrated dance world.

“We are thrilled to welcome 651 ARTS to the Black Dance Stories family through this partnership that will lead to the continued creation of exciting Black Dance Stories content and a deeper engagement with our artists and audiences,” Warren said. “To develop such a unique partnership is a major step for Black Dance Stories. Last year was proof of the need for a galvanizing place for our Black dance community, and we began to meet that need in these seven short months by providing a platform for Black artists and audiences to come together through our weekly story sharing series. Now, we are taking things to the next level with 651 ARTS, whose work to deepen the awareness of art across the African Diaspora is in sync with Black Dance Stories’ goals and makes them a perfect partner. We will work together to support, uphold, highlight and celebrate Black creatives.”

Black Dance Stories with Charmaine Warren, Okwui Okpokwasili and Kyle Marshall. Photo courtesy of Black Dance Stories.
Black Dance Stories with Charmaine Warren, Okwui Okpokwasili and Kyle Marshall. Photo courtesy of Black Dance Stories.

“Black Dance Stories has been doing incredible work, and we are thrilled to work with them on co-presenting the series, allowing us to further expand our offerings through this collaboration,” said Monica L. Williams, 651’s Chief Curator and Director of Programs. “There is such a natural synergy between our two organizations as the core of 651’s mission has always been the commitment to telling the stories of artists across the Diaspora. At a time when there is a definitive need for more Black storytelling, it is important for Black arts leaders to come together to further amplify the voices of our artists and our legacies. As the fight for racial justice and equity continues, it is now more important than ever for artists in our communities to have the support and resources to tell those stories, and this partnership is a major step in that direction.”

Black Dance Stories has also recently debuted its website, www.blackdancestories.org. The website provides access to new content and previous episodes. Visitors will learn about Black Dance Stories initiatives and team, browse information on the community of dance artists featured on the program, and receive details on upcoming programs and events. The site also contains integrated social media buttons for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and allows visitors to sign up for the Black Dance Stories newsletter.

Upcoming live episodes of Black Dance Stories are: Sharron Miller, Princess Mhoon and Sandra Burton (February 4); Torya Beard, Vincent Thomas and Deidre Dawkins (February 11); Dr. Gaynell Sherrod, Dr. Brenda Dixon Gottschild and Dwana Smallwood (February 18); and Earl Mosley, Dr. Halifu Osumare and Coco Killingsworth (February 25). 

The Black Dance Stories series airs live on YouTube every Thursday in February, at 6pm EST. Visit www.blackdancestories.org for more information. 

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