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The Black Iris Project


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The Black Iris Project


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Calvin Royal III, American Ballet Theatre

Calvin Royal III, American Ballet Theatre

 

VISION


By harnessing the Black community's inherent creative spirit, The Black Iris Project will encourage and inspire youth of color to pursue art, movement and music as an expressive outlet and means for collective healing, as well as educating audiences about how Black history relates to the modern Black journey.  

 

MISSION


The Black Iris Project's mission is threefold: create original ballets and arts education curriculums that directly address and celebrate diversity; provide a performance platform for Black artists to collaborate and share their personal stories with their respective communities; and provide ballet training to the Black community as a means of developing structure, focus and discipline through teamwork. 

 

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FROM NOTHING, OUR DREAMS


We gather to shift focus
We dance to create anew
New forms, new faces
Bodies not new, but unique
A re/thinking forward
We build on dreams
Weaving Black creative expression
Teaching Black creative tradition
Inspiring direction
Toward authentic depiction
From past we are birthed
Into present we move
This collaboration we offer
Our work, our art

 

Original poetry by Ryan Sinclaire Davis

 

The Black Iris Project held its debut season on July 27 & 28 2016 at New York Live Arts in New York City.  Three original ballet works rooted in Black history were featured, highlighting a cast of predominantly Black dancers from world-class ballet companies. Most recently, The BIP recently was personally invited by American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer, Misty Copeland to perform MADIBA, a new ballet tracing the journey of Nelson Mandela, at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Ballet Across America festival.

 

To learn more about the performers, click here.

View the Black Iris Project Debut Program Here

 

 

FROM NOTHING, OUR DREAMS


We gather to shift focus
We dance to create anew
New forms, new faces
Bodies not new, but unique
A re/thinking forward
We build on dreams
Weaving Black creative expression
Teaching Black creative tradition
Inspiring direction
Toward authentic depiction
From past we are birthed
Into present we move
This collaboration we offer
Our work, our art

 

Original poetry by Ryan Sinclaire Davis

 

The Black Iris Project held its debut season on July 27 & 28 2016 at New York Live Arts in New York City.  Three original ballet works rooted in Black history were featured, highlighting a cast of predominantly Black dancers from world-class ballet companies. Most recently, The BIP recently was personally invited by American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer, Misty Copeland to perform MADIBA, a new ballet tracing the journey of Nelson Mandela, at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Ballet Across America festival.

 

To learn more about the performers, click here.

View the Black Iris Project Debut Program Here

 

 

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Repertory


 

Repertory


 

"What impresses me most about Jeremy is his very clear vision as an artist and citizen. Jeremy's goal is to celebrate human diversity not only by creating opportunity for dancers of color, but more importantly to create ballets and dances that tell stories about people of color. It is not enough to incorporate and highlight diversity within our dancing ranks, the ballet and dance cannon needs to expand by including more stories that resonate with and are about people of color."
—Meg Booth, The Kennedy Center

 
Nardia Boodoo, Washington Ballet

Nardia Boodoo, Washington Ballet

 

Madiba

 

Based on the life of South African anti-apartheid activist and humanitarian Nelson "Madiba" Mandela, MADIBA—set to award-winning composer Carman Moore's original score which premiered at Carnegie Hall in February 2015—features a cast of fourteen dancers. The production also features Yale School of Drama graduates, costume designer Montana Levi Blanco and lighting design by Alan C. Edwards. The BIP was personally invited by ABT Principal Dancer, Misty Copeland to perform MADIBA at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Ballet Across America festival in July 2017.

 
 
Stephanie Rae Williams, Dance Theatre of Harlem Daniel Harder, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

Stephanie Rae Williams, Dance Theatre of Harlem
Daniel Harder, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

 

BLACK

EXCELLENCE

 

Travel back in time through an artistic revolution as The Black Iris Project presents BLACK EXCELLENCE. This visual guide of artistic explosion will take you on a journey through the Harlem Renaissance where social and cultural movements were expressed through the likings of artists such as Langston Hughes, Arthur Mitchell, Augusta Savage, Nina Simone, Dizzy Gillespie, and many others who have shaped the society we see today. Choreographed and directed by Jeremy McQueen, written by Savon Bartley with costumes by Mondo Morales. Commissioned by ConEdison and New York City's Town Hall, BLACK EXCELLENCE premiered on February 6, 2017.

 

BLACK IRIS

 

BLACK IRIS, inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe's Black Iris III painting and set to Felix Mendelssohn's "Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 66", was commissioned by the Joffrey Academy of Dance, and premiered on March 10, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois as part of McQueen's 2013 Joffrey Ballet's Choreographers of Color Award. The work honors the unique challenges of Black womanhood found in life, work, and even ballet, while also demonstrating the persevering human spirit. BLACK IRIS is inspired by and dedicated to Mary McQueen, Ann Tinsley, and Beverly Anderson, three Black women who to McQueen exemplify the perseverance, determination, confidence, and faith that is distinctively Black and woman. 

 
Acee Francis, Freelance Artist

Acee Francis, Freelance Artist

 

BROWN BABY

 

BROWN BABY, is a collaborative thirty minute work for thirteen dancers created by choreographers Jeremy McQueen and Lauren Cox, and composed by accomplished jazz pianist Aaron Diehl for an six-piece musical ensemble that evokes the golden age of American jazz. The story begins in Munich, Germany, post-World War II at a time when jazz music was banned, and continues to post segregated Flint, Michigan during the late 1950s. The title of the piece refers to the term used to name children born to Black soldiers and white European women during and after World War II. BROWN BABY is inspired by the true story of Beatrice Reynolds, the daughter of the controversial interracial relationship, who went on to be one of the country's first Black mainstream fashion models. The ballet traces her unique journey as a young biracial woman struggling to embrace her identity.

 
Harper Watters, Houston Ballet

Harper Watters, Houston Ballet

 
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Engage


Engage


DaVon Doane, Dance Theatre of Harlem

DaVon Doane, Dance Theatre of Harlem

In addition to performance-based work, educational outreach plans include master classes with professional Black ballet dancers; panel discussions about the state of the arts in Black society as well as about the creative process of the newly created works; and demonstrations and lectures at potential partner organizations throughout New York City.

 

Presented by The Black Iris Project, MADIBA is a celebration of the life of one of the most influential peace activists in history through the language of dance.  Through interactive lessons incorporating physical movement, dialogue, literacy, and a live performance by renowned professional dancers, students learn about the inspiring life of Nelson Mandela and the fight for civil rights and equality.  Students learn about dance history and be taught dance steps from MADIBA, while being taken on a journey through South Africa and the American South during times of turmoil.  Students are also guided in methods for collaborative storytelling through dance and choreography.  To work for peace and community in today's society is essential.  The Black Iris Project believes that the performing arts, at its core, is a form of community building.  The MADIBA curriculum is one which fosters creativity, empowerment, and encourages activism and teamwork. 

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Collaborators


Collaborators