Fun in the Field Photoshoot

You are never too old for a tutu!

Photographed by cdjphotography.smugmug.com

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American Ballet Theatre presents Romeo and Juliet (plus backstage photos!)

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One of the many highlights of my trip to New York City this summer was going to The Metropolitan Opera House and seeing Romeo and Juliet performed by the American Ballet Theatre. Saturday, June 25, 2016, 2:00pm was a day that I had planned since the beginning of the year to see Misty Copeland star as Juliet in this production.

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There were so many people at Lincoln Center that afternoon and it felt like we were all there to see Misty Copeland. As I waited outside to go in I was thinking this theatre must be huge to accommodate all these people and it was magnificently gigantic. I was sitting in the Family Circle which was the highest balcony, but not to worry because everything on the stage was bigger than life, the set, the costumes, the dramatic story telling, everything was GRAND.

Ballerinas are theatrical actors. Yes the dancing technique was on point but that is expected. These dancer were telling the story of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays and I felt every emotion times ten. The deaths, the nerves, the apprehensions, the love, the loss, I could see it all. Dancers are actors.

The deaths were remarkably done in this production. When Mercutio, danced by Craig Salstein, got killed I think it took him 5 minutes to go down, stumbling, leaping and falling across the stage. Another notable death was when Romeo, Daniil Simkin, first finds Juliet in the tomb and dances with her lifeless body across the stage, tossing her in the air and making her dance because he cannot believe she is gone, but when she comes back to life it is too late.

Fortunately for me my evening did not end at the standing ovation curtain call, where my mother and I were in tears. I was able to go back stage to see Misty Copeland, meet some of the dancers, and run into some other historical trailblazers.

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Romeo Daniil Simkin

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My Mother, Juliet Misty Copeland, and I

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Raven Wilkinson (the first African American woman to dance for a major ballet company in 1955 when she signed with Ballet Russo de Monte Carlo) and I

If you have never been to the ballet I strongly suggest going. There are professional ballet companies all over the country. Open your mind up to one of many classical dance art forms.

Shuffle Along Broadway Review

As soon as the overture started to play for Shuffle Along: or The Making of the Musical Sensations of 1921 and All That Followed, I knew I was in for a treat from a time period I wish desperately to have experienced.

The costumes were GLAMOROUS. It was that imaginative, creative over the top fashion that we so rarely see on black bodies since The Wiz, Dreamgirls and the original Shuffle Along review. It was a dream fantasy for a black performer to watch.

And then Audra McDonald glided onstage and I was in tears. I have been a fan of McDonald since I was in middle school and my first voice teacher told me to look up the song “Stars and the Moon” sung by Audra McDonald, and since then I have been hooked. When I saw her dance onstage Thursday, June 23, 2016 and sing, LIVE, it was a dream come true. I was overcome with emotion and the feeling of being in the right place at the right moment, experiencing excellence.

audraAudra McDonals

Another scene stealer was Billy Porter, who played Aubrey Lyles. It is no surprise this man won a Tony. He was PERFORMING! Sang his face off, acted his butt off and looked very dashing in his array of colorful, patterned suits.

Choreographyyyyyyy!(Savion Glover)  Man I wished I focused more in tap class. When I tell you formations can make beauty on the stage. The dancers were all over the place, defying gravity and then stomping on it to make elaborate rhythms.

This was a very smart production. If I had not taken Seminar of African American Theatre at Spelman College some of the key points and the underlying storyline might have been lost. There were a lot of facts and historical figures going in and out of the wings. George C. Wolfe (director) is a historical scholarly genius and F.E. Miller, Aubrey Lyles, Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake set the foundation.

g and sGeorge C. Wolfe and Savion Glover

Shuffle Along: or The Making of the Musical Sensations of 1921 and All That Followed chronicles the rise, demise and legacy of an African American theatre company. And with many other companies that followed, once the money and success comes so do the egos.

Stay grounded in the art artist and you’ll always have success.

The final performance of Shuffle Along is set for July 24, 2016. I am so blessed I was able to see this production with the entire original cast.

Enjoy this clip from the show!