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The Black Iris Project


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The Black Iris Project


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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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Debut


"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. 

 

To learn more about the 2016 season performers, click here

View the Black Iris Project Debut Program Here

 

 

Debut


"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. 

 

To learn more about the 2016 season performers, click here

View the Black Iris Project Debut Program Here

 

 

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Repertory


Repertory


 

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—will feature a cast of fourteen dancers. The production also features Yale School of Drama graduates, costume designer Montana Levi Blanco and projection/scenic designer Rasean Davonte Johnson. 

 

 

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. 

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.

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Engage


Engage


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 will learn about the inspiring life of Nelson Mandela and the fight for civil rights and equality.  Students will 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 will also be 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