Sun 7/13 @ 4pm
By Elsa Johnson & Victor Lucas
Even if you’re a part of Cleveland’s dance community, it can be hard to keep up with the dance that’s happening in Cleveland’s African-American community.
So we were completely unprepared for the dancing we saw when we sat in on a recent rehearsal for Dance on the Edge, Terence Greene’s latest brain child. In addition to some of his current or former students at Cleveland School of the Arts, Greene had brought in some outstanding additional dancers. Bessie Award winner Sheri “Sparkle” Williams of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Janine M. Beckles from Philadanco! in Philadelphia. Kaylin Horgan and Rebekah Kuczma from Reed Dance in Pittsburgh. Michael Green, also of DCDC. Wow!
We talked with Greene after rehearsal.
CoolCleveland: Is this concert a one-off?
Terence Greene: Oh, no. This is the debut of a new company. It’s multi-racial but it’s in the black tradition so it’s like DCDC or Ailey. There’s no opportunity here for us so it’s been my obligation, my dream, for 20 years to do a major company here, one with the stellar excellence that it needs to sustain the quality of works that I want to bring in.
And you’ve started bringing in new work already. For the upcoming concert you have one new dance choreographed by Crystal Frazier and another by Antonio Brown , both world premieres. How did you do that?
Because I worked with them. Antonio’s like my son; I trained him since he was young at CSA. Crystal teaches all over with me.
But the dancer leading the rehearsal was referring to a video of Antonio’s piece, Exodus. Who’s dancing in the video?
Antonio first set Exodus on my students for my spring concert, so those are my students dancing in the video. And my students are to die for.
(Laughing.) Your students at CSA are a hard act to follow.
Antonio’s ballet is based on the story of Exodus from the Bible and this piece is a powerhouse. The costumes are red and black. All the men and women are in skirts. Phillip Williams is the lead in it.
Tell us about Crystal Frazier’s new dance.
She’s a well-known hip hop choreographer. Wait ’til you see Mandela, her premiere. When Nelson Mandela passed away I knew I wanted to celebrate him through my art so I got Crystal to choreograph the piece that I conceived with her.
Looking forward to that. What else is in your upcoming concert?
Have you seen my piece, The Gathering (2009)?
We’ve seen Verb Ballets do that. Strong piece. (Verb Ballets commissioned The Gathering while Greene was an Artist-in-Residence at Verb Ballets in 2009.)
Verb will perform The Gathering for this concert. Dancing Wheels also has The Gathering in their repertoire but for this concert they’ll be performing my ballet Legacy (2012).
Which we haven’t seen.
Wait ’til you see it. For my concert we’re doing the last section of Legacy. It starts with Mary Verdi Fletcher’s solo and the whole piece is about her passing the torch to her successor, danced by her rehearsal director, Cathy.
Ah, yes. Catherine Meredith Lambert. So, in addition to the dancers we’ve seen rehearsing here today your concert will include Verb and Dancing Wheels, 2 excellent local companies.
And Antonio is part of my company but Bill T. Jones called him back on tour. And a girl from Hawaii, Christine Yasunaga, will be dancing with us eventually; she was in Lion King and she was one of my students 20 years ago. I want a really multi-racial company. My whole grant was about bringing my city together.
Tell us about your grant, your Creative Workforce Fellowship.
The grant is hard to get. You have to write a proposal explaining everything you’ll use the grant for and present your proposal to a panel. So I told them I want to use my grant for my new company and for a 3-week long summer dance institute for people of color, which I just finished.
The grant means you’ll be able to pay your dancers, right? Well, thank you, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, smokers, and voters. Those tax dollars are well-spent here. Do you have any other source of funding?
(Laughs.) Me and my mother’s. I’ve invited other potential funders to this upcoming concert.
We wish you the best of luck getting the funding you’ll need to keep this going. But here’s the question we want to ask anybody who sets out to start a dance company. Why? You already have a job at CSA.
To have something that stands for us. Michael Medcalf started a multi-racial company but it didn’t go where it needed to go. I love what my brother did but it won’t be as hard for me as it would be for another person. It’s my calling. And I want to keep the dancers I train here.
Ohhh! We get it. It’s about identity but it’s also a very practical matter of preventing another kind of brain drain.
It’s my obligation.
4:00p.m. Sunday, 7/13/2014. Greene Works Project presents the debut concert Dance on the Edge at Tri-C Eastern Campus, Main Theater. The concert will introduce the 2014 company members of The Greene Works Project along with special guests Verb Ballets, Dancing Wheels and the Urban Dance Collective of the Cleveland School of the Arts. Tickets $30 Advance or $35 Day of Show. Students $25 with valid ID. VIP tickets $55 which includes center preferred seating plus private reception with the artists immediately following the show. Tickets are available by calling ShowClix at 1-888-718-4253 or online at http://www.greenewp.com.
Tri-C Eastern Campus is located at 4250 Richmond Road, Highland Hills Village, Ohio 44122.
Dance on the Edge is supported by Community Partnership for Arts and Culture of Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Dance Movement, Verb Ballets and Dancing Wheels.
From Cool Cleveland contributors Elsa Johnson and Victor Lucas. Elsa and Vic are both longtime Clevelanders. Elsa is a landscape designer. She studied ballet as an avocation for 2 decades. Vic has been a dancer and dance teacher for most of his working life, performing in a number of dance companies in NYC and Cleveland. They write about dance as a way to learn more and keep in touch with the dance community. E-mail them at vicnelsaATearthlink.net.