Friday, March 19, 2010

Support Us

Summary of Support US

For 25 years, 651 ARTS has been dedicated to supporting and celebrating the multi-faceted work of contemporary performing artists of the African Diaspora.

This year, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we encourage you to consider making a donation of $25, $250, $2,500 or a gift for any amount significant to you.

Supporting 651 ARTS signifies your dedication to the best contemporary arts grounded in the African world experience. A contribution to 651 ARTS not only ensures the presentation of powerful, thought provoking programs but when you give you’ll have access to choice seating, private receptions with featured artists of the season and so much more! With 651 ARTS, you will learn, grow, and most importantly, discover new worlds—all without leaving Brooklyn.

Thank you for joining us in celebrating 25 years of innovative programming from around the world, right here in our own backyard!

Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 04:12 PM
Support UsPermalink

Contact Us

651 ARTS
1000 Dean Street, Suite 232
Brooklyn, NY 11238

P:  718.304.1045

Email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Press & Marketing Inquiries




Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 03:31 PM
About UsPermalink


Collaboration is at the heart of what 651 ARTS has done for over 20 years. We consider the relationships that we have built over the years to be crucial to our continued work in supporting and celebrating performance of the African Diaspora. The following organizations are key members of the 651 family with whom we work with consistently.

ActiveCultures/Bill Bragin
BTQ Financial
BOMB Magazine
boomBOOM NYC/Brice Rosenbloom
Broke and Hungry Records/Jeff Konkel
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Cat Head/Roger Stolle
Creative Outlet Dance Theater/Jamel Gaines
Dance Theater Workshop/Carla Peterson
Danspace Project/Judy Hussie-Taylor and Abby Harris Holmes
The Delta Center for Culture and Learning/Luther Brown
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
L’Ecole Des Sables, Toubab Dialow, Senegal
Edward R. Murrow High School/James Duncan
French Institute Alliance Française/Lili Chopra
Tom Fontana
Godown Arts Center, Nairobi Kenya
Harlem Arts Alliance
Harlem Stage/Brad Learmonth
Hip Hop Theater Festival/Clyde Valentin and Kamilah Forbes
The Irondale Center
Ishyo Arts Center, Kigali, Rwanda
James Beard Foundation
JCI Graphics/Carl Navarro
The Kennedy Center/Michael Kaiser
The Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts
          at Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus
Chef François Kwaku-Dongo
The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at The Graduate Center/CUNY
New Africa Live
Paul Robeson High School and Bailey’s Café/Stefanie Siegel
Studia Designs/Andre Pennycooke and Daryl Long
Sundance Institute/Christopher Hibma
Theatre Without Borders/Roberta Levitow

Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 03:30 PM
About UsPermalink


651 ARTS proudly acknowledges our community of supporters and partners, whose generous investment makes our work possible:

The Brooklyn Community Foundation
Carol’s Daughter
Con Edison
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Emma Sheafer Charitable Trust
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts
The Ford Foundation
Lambent Foundation
Mertz Gilmore Foundation
National Performance Network
New England Foundation for the Arts – National Dance Project
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
The Surdna Foundation

651 ARTS is a member of the following organizations:

The African Contemporary Arts Consortium
Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance
National Performance Network
Soul of Brooklyn Consortium

Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 03:27 PM
Support UsPermalink

Young Professionals Committee

Aaron L McKinney, Co-Chair
Brandi Stewart, Co-Chair
Chana Ginelle Ewing
Rasu Jilani
Jessica Lynne
Ndidi Oriji

Posted by 651 ARTS on 03/19 at 03:25 PM
About UsPermalink

Board of Directors

Andrea Smith, Chair

Obadele O. Davis, Esq., Vice Chair

Theodore Bennett

Karen Wisham Hudson

Johari Jenkins

Marc Bamuthi Joseph

Yvonne Joyner Levette

Perry C. Rainey, Ed.D

Stephanie Siegel

Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 03:24 PM
About UsPermalink


651 ARTS public presentations take place throughout Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Below is a listing of venues where you can find 651 ARTS events this year.

57 Rockwell Place
Brooklyn, NY
P: 718.855.7882

The Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts
Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus
Flatbush Avenue between DeKalb and Willoughby
Brooklyn, NY
P: 718.488.1624

Mark Morris Dance Center
3 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
P: 718.624.8400

The following is a list of additional venues where 651 regularly presents its work.

BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY
P: 718.636.4100

Brooklyn Masonic Temple
317 Clermont Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
P: 718.638.1256

Frank’s Cocktail Lounge
660 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY
P: 718.625.9339

The Irondale Center
85 South Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY
P: 718.488.9233

Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 03:22 PM
About UsPermalink


Since 1988, 651 ARTS has been committed to developing, producing and presenting performance and cultural programming rooted in the African Diaspora, with a primary focus on contemporary performing arts. 651 ARTS serves the cultural life of New York City, with a particular focus on Brooklyn, one of America’s most culturally diverse communities.

Key Artistic Highlights

2009 — In celebration of the enormous contributions of women in the arts, and specifically the leadership of 651, 651 ARTS dedicated its 20th Anniversary Season to women artists of African descent featuring music, theater, and dance performances by some of the world’s most extraordinary female performers, including Toni Blackman, BlueNefertiti, and Tamar-kali: Psychochamber Ensemble. The season finale presentation, FLY: Five First Ladies of Dance, featured solos by dance luminaries Germaine Acogny, Carmen de Lavallade, Dianne McIntyre, Bebe Miller, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The season culminated with a champagne and dessert reception honoring the contributions and achievements of 651 co-founder, friend, and mentor, Mikki Shepard.

2007–2008 — 651 ARTS celebrates the Mississippi Delta with the Mississippi Delta Heritage Project — a two-week festival that examines the vibrant and rich connections of the Delta Blues to the diverse musical genres of gospel and jazz, and examines the African roots of the American Blues tradition. The Festival is a tribute to the living Delta Blues masters and includes live performances; intensive instrument workshops in harmonica and washboard; residencies with Blues artists in Brooklyn public schools; and a late night Juke Joint featuring Blues greats T-Model Ford, Robert Belfour, and Terry “Harmonica” Bean. Other artists featured in the festival include: Cassandra Wilson, Corey Harris, Olu Dara, Dianne McIntyre, Ping Chong, Talvin Wilkes, Marie Knight, Lobi Traore, Sharde Thomas & The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, Toshi Reagon, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Michael Hill, Ricky Gordon, and Reggie Wilson.

2006–2007 — 651 ARTS collaborates with Danspace Project in the presentation of South African production Men-Jaro, choreographed by Vincent Mantsoe and scored by South African ethnomusicologist, Anthony Caplan, as well as with the presentation of Like An Idiot — a solo work created by Brazilian choreographer/dancer Cristina Moura. Anthony Caplan receives a 2007 Bessie Award for his Men-Jaro composition.

651 ARTS brings the powerful production Fagaala to New York for a sold-out presentation at the BAM Harvey Theater. Japanese choreographer, Kota Yamazaki, and Senegalese choreographer/performer, Germaine Acogny, team up to combine Japanese Butoh with traditional and contemporary African dance, inspired by Murambi, The Book of Bones, Senegalese writer Boubacar Boris Diop’s account of the catastrophic genocide that occurred in Rwanda, and by interviews with survivors of the genocide. While inspired by a particular historical event — the piece became a response to all genocides that have taken place throughout history. The seventy-minute work is performed by Acogny’s company of eight male dancers: Jant-Bi.  Yamazaki and Acogny received 2007 Choreographer Bessie Awards for Fagaala.

651 ARTS presents Scourge — a powerful, political and revolutionary look at Haiti in its 200th year as a sovereign nation. Acclaimed poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph fuses hip hop, spoken word, and live music to explore the narrow space between history, myth and speculation. This collaboration with choreographers Adia Whitaker, Rennie Harris and Stacy Prince, and director Kamilah Forbes, merges urgent voices, music and movement in a timely and poignant multimedia work. The presentation is in collaboration with Dance Theater Workshop.

2005–2006 — 651 ARTS forged a partnership with the newly-built 320-seat Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus, adding it to our roster of local performance spaces. Highlights of the season include two concerts celebrating jazz legend Randy Weston in his 80th year: one in which he plays solo piano — his first time ever in Brooklyn — to an intimate group of 100 people who are seated on the stage with him; and two nights later, an all-out bash in which over a dozen other jazz greats come out to play with Weston.  Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, declared January 14, 2006, “Randy Weston Day.” 

651 ARTS brings a deeply moving, triumphant and important theater work from South Africa to Brooklyn for three performances.  Amajuba, which tells the real life stories of the performers growing up in impoverished townships during Apartheid, receives standing ovations each evening.  The response to the piece from our national colleague presenters, who attend the show while in New York for an Arts Presenters conference, is overwhelming, and as a result several further engagements of Amajuba are contracted for cities throughout the United States. 

2004–2005 — 651 ARTS presents sold-out performances of Ronald K. Brown/Evidence at the BAM Harvey Theater as part of our signature series Black Dance: Tradition and Transformation.

Daniel Bernard Roumain and the Mission SQ Unit premiere A Civil Rights Reader, a musical work for string quartet and voice that pays tribute to the artist Romare Bearden and celebrates his love of jazz.

The Son Sonora Ensemble gives a rousing performance of Dr. George Walker’s String Quartet No. 1 (1946) and String Quartet No. 2 (1966) as part of 651 ARTS’ Salon 651 series. This ensemble, brought together by composer/conductor Tania León in 2004, features musicians and composers of diverse ethnic backgrounds.  Dr. Walker, the first African American to win the Pulitzer prize for music, and now in his eighties, is inspired to record the works with this quartet.  651 ARTS provides the capital to record these quartets.

2003–2004 — 651 ARTS celebrates its 15th Anniversary season with performances by Cassandra Wilson and Angelique Kidjo, and creates a new program series, Salon 651, which offers presentations in intimate settings at affordable ticket prices.

Black Dance Tradition and Transformation kicks off the season with the New York debut of Movement (R)evolution: New African Dance. A national tour organized by 651 ARTS, UApresents, and the University of Florida, Movement (R)evolution presents three distinct companies from three equally distinct countries — Sello Pesa from South Africa; Compagnie Rary from Madagascar; and Compagnie Kongo Ba Téria from Burkina Faso. Each company exemplifies the richness of contemporary performance created in Africa today.

2002–2003 — Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Urban Bush explore the concept of “nappy hair” and its relationship to images of beauty, social position, heritage, and self-esteem, in Hair Stories at the Triangle Theater at Long Island University.

Higher Ground, a music concert of spiritually-themed compositions by Stevie Wonder takes place at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Clinton Hill featuring the Emmanuel Baptist Church Choir and guest vocalists, led by Musical Director Akua Dixon.

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company performs Flight Project at the BAM Harvey Theater. The performance features the New York premiere of Bebe Miller’s AERODIGM, a new work commissioned by DCDC for the Flight Project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers.

2001–2002 — Rennie Harris and his company PureMovement perform Rome & Jewels, a hip-hop ballet inspired by Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, at the BAM Harvey Theater.

651 ARTS produces Rivers at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO, featuring an ensemble of poets, writers, musicians, and performers, including Sekou Sundiata, Sarah Jones, and Amiri Baraka, among others, paying tribute to Langston Hughes in the centennial year of his birth.

2000–2001 — 651 opens its season with Udu, a music theater work by Sekou Sundiata and Craig Harris that explores contemporary slavery in Africa.

The second year of Black Dance: Tradition and Transformation receives rave reviews, featuring new works by Abdel R. Salaam and his Forces of Nature dance company, Bebe Miller Company, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence and the exclusive U.S. engagement of Salia Ni Seydou from Burkina Faso.

Iceland, a new collaboration between award-winning actor Roger Guenveur Smith and musician Marc Anthony Thompson receives a welcoming response by theater enthusiasts.

Inspired by the legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, Spirituals to Swing brings together the latest jazz talents, including Cyrus Chesnut, Vincente Archer, Wycliffe Gordon, and Mark Whitfield, in a captivating performance of jazz standards and Gospel music.

Creative Outlet Dance Theater, a company based in Brooklyn, closes the season playing to full houses and standing ovations.

1999–2000 — 651 receives a significant grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to endow our signature program, Black Dance: Tradition and Transformation.

651 is selected as the New York host organization for the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation’s project, Artists & Communities: America Creates for the Millennium.

651 presents Grammy-nominee Randy Weston in a concert with the Master Gnawa Musicians of Morocco and guest artist Babatunde Olantunji.

The season also features award-winning actor Roger Guenveur Smith in A Huey P. Newton Story, his fêted collaboration with musician Marc Anthony Thompson.

In memory of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program, 651 presents The Music Never Stops, a mind-opening jazz concert featuring Abbey Lincoln, Geri Allen, Jack DeJohnette and a group of gifted young jazz talents.

1998–1999 — Celebrating its 10th anniversary, 651, An Arts Center modifies its name to 651 ARTS. A new logo and graphic image symbolize the organization’s second phase of operations.

651 opens its season with JazzTrain, a new work by 651 artist Donald Byrd and musicians Max Roach, Geri Allen and Vernon Reid.

Other season highlights include Dance and Spiritual Life, a triple bill of dance works by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Bebe Miller and Dianne McIntyre with live music by Hannibal Lokumbe; a preview screening of Blackside Inc.’s documentary I’ll Make Me a World, followed by a panel discussion with filmmaker Spike Lee, composer/musician Toshi Reagon, actor (Slam) Saul Williams, and The New York Times Cultural Critic Margo Jefferson, moderated by NPR Senior Editor Sharon Green. As part of I’ll Make Me a World, 651 builds a coalition with thirteen New York City arts institutions to create programs around the theme of the documentary. As a direct result of its Africa Exchange program, 651 presents the African opera Waramba, created by Ensemble Koteba d’Abidjan from the Ivory Coast.

1997–1998 — 651 presents the landmark two-day concert and symposia, Sung and Unsung/Jazz Women, devoted to the celebration and exploration of the collective story of women in jazz. 651 and the Smithsonian Institute collaborate to bring together world-class performers, scholars, producers, and music professionals for a series of panel discussions, lecture/demonstrations, presentations, and “musical interludes.” Performers include the legendary Abbey Lincoln, contemporary stars Geri Allen and Fostina Dixon, and the all-women ensembles Jazzberry Jam!, Uptown String Quartet and DIVA.

651 co-commissions and co-produces with the Brooklyn Academy of Music the New York premiere of The Harlem Nutcracker, a major new work created by 651 artist-in-residence Donald Byrd/The Group. With music by Duke Ellington, The Harlem Nutcracker tells the story of a middle-class Black woman who, in the process of looking back on her life, invites the audience to join her on a journey through America of the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. This New York premiere is the culmination of Mr. Byrd’s three-year residency at 651.

1996–1997 — 651 receives its second Bessie Special Recognition Award for Dance Women/Living Legends, a program that honors the legacy of Jeraldyne Blunden (Dayton Contemporary Dance Company), Joan Myers Brown (Philadanco), Cleo Parker Robinson (Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble), Lula Washington (Lula Washington Dance Theatre), and Ann Williams (Dallas Black Dance Theatre), the founders of dance schools and companies for Black dancers.

Africa Exchange commissions and presents choreographer Ralph Lemon’s GeographyGeography was co-presented with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and received great media attention and public praise.

651 kicks off the first event of Lost Jazz Shrines, a national celebration of historic venues and communities that supported jazz earlier in the century. 651’s program honors musicians and communities that played a major role in the development of Brooklyn’s jazz music. 651 features Randy Weston’s Uhuru Afrika. In addition, 651 produces a videotaped oral history of selected musicians who were or are involved in Brooklyn’s jazz scene, and conducts a virtual bus tour of old jazz clubs.

1995–1996 — 651 launches the inaugural season of 651’s World Series, a three-year festival exploring the ways world cultures have influenced — and continue to influence — one another. For a period of three months, the series features a variety of performances, lectures, workshops, and dance parties focusing on English-speaking traditions from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States.  As part of the series, 651 presents Opera Ebony’s production of Noa Ai’s The Outcast; Donald Byrd’s The Minstrel Show; On a Level, a performance piece presented by The BiBi Crew, a troupe of six women of Caribbean descent based in London; and Fete Fuh So!, a dance series curated by Reggie Wilson, featuring works by Wilson, as well as choreographers Cheryl Byron, Peter London, André George, Nadine Mose, Astor Johnson, and Priya and Pratap Pawar. The performance is preceded by a day-long Caribbean market, complete with steel band performances, food vendors, and storytelling. Choreographer Doug Elkins and his company and guest artist Willi Ninja end the series with Scott, Queen of Marys.

651 initiates Africa Exchange, a program that supports collaborations between performing artists from Africa and the U.S. With lead funding from the Ford Foundation, Africa Exchange provides opportunities for African artists to engage with their American counterparts in residency programs, workshops, panel discussions, and in the creation of new works.

651 co-sponsors Inroads/Africa, the first major American conference on cultural exchange with Africa, working with Arts International and Meet the Composer. The conference accommodates 250 African and U.S.-based artists, presenters, producers, co-commissioners, scholars, educators, funders, and collaborators, and includes professional presentations and video tape screenings of works by African artists, roundtable discussion, artist-led lectures/demonstrations, classes, and workshops.

651’s New Orleans Mardi Gras features New Orleans jazz, Cajun, and zydeco music performed by The Dirty Dozen and Queen Ida. A panel discussion entitled Creole Color & Class is presented in the Majestic Theater lobby between the performances. A New Orleans Cultural Brunch explores the art of food preparation and its cultural significance. 

Compagnie Ebène with Yenenga and Compagnie Azanie with A la vue d’un seul oeil make their New York debuts at 651. The company has been presented at the 1994 Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France, and is hailed as a major new force in dance by New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff.

1994–1995 — 651 partners with El Puente, a youth service organization in Williamsburg, which leads to the presentation of Celebracion, a salsa program featuring Willie Colon and Ray Baretto. Workshops and seminars for children are part of the program.

Other events include: Jazz Ahead ’95, with Betty Carter; a five-day run of Pearl Cleage’s play, Flyin’ West; Soul Sisters, an evening of dance pieces by three young women choreographers, Martha Bowers, Janine Williams, and Patricia Hoffbauer; Jazz and Blues Legacy, featuring vocalist Sandra Reaves and Arvell Shaw & the Louis Armstrong Legacy Band; and the New York premiere of 651 artist-in-residence Donald Byrd/The Group’s Bristle.

651 receives a Bessie Choreographer/Creator Award for presenting the American debut of Compagnie Azanie.

1993–1994 — Jazz legend Betty Carter opens her first JazzAhead concert, as a result of her residency at 651. Carter’s first concert features more than 35 young musicians, aged 17$ndash;28, from seven states, together with Ms. Carter’s own trio. Over a three-year period, performances attract near-capacity audiences for virtuoso sessions that last three hours each.

1992–1993 — 651 starts its Artist Residency Program, designed to enable performers and organizations to grow artistically and institutionally while grounding their work in the daily life of Brooklyn’s communities. The first artists-in-residence are Betty Carter, Donald Byrd, and Opera Ebony.

651 presents the first Brooklyn performances of Anna Deavere Smith’s solo theater piece, Fires in the Mirror, a work that draws on interviews with African American and Jewish residents of Crown Heights who discuss the 1991 riots in their neighborhood in Brooklyn. 651 holds a post-performance panel discussion with members of the Black and Jewish communities, moderated by Newsday columnist Cheryl McCarthy.

Other season highlights include Donald Byrd’s Drastic Cut: The Muddy Water’s Story, a tribute to Muddy Waters with Koko Taylor and Junior Wells; For Miles and Miles, featuring Jimmy Heath and his ensemble, Slide Hampton, and Gary Bartz; Sheila’s Day, a play with music from South Africa; and Soul Sisters, a program uniting dancer Kim Bears, novelist Terry McMillan, and vocalist Cynthia Scott.

1991–1992 — 651 opens its third season with an ambitious eight-week concert series, 100 Years of Jazz and Blues, featuring eight thematic concerts with an impressive line-up of more than sixty performers. Among the headliners are Art Taylor, Barry Harris, Donald Byrd, Archie Shepp, Albert King, Betty Carter, Ernestine Anderson, Dakota Staton, Robert Junior Lockwood, Tito Puente, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ruth Brown, Jimmy Smith, Max Roach, and Panama Francis. 651 presents related jazz workshops, panel discussion, a Living Music Expo Exhibition, movie screenings and develops an extensive booklet on the history of jazz and blues.

1990–1991 — 651 launches a music series featuring contemporary and classic gospel music, a festival with music from the ’50s entitled The Baby Grand ’50s: Pan ‘n Jam, and a tribute to Charlie Parker and Audre Lorde.

1989–1990 — 651, An Arts Center celebrates its premiere season, committing to presenting performing arts geared towards Brooklyn’s diverse communities. Under the leadership of Mikki Shepard and Dr. Leonard Goines, 651’s inaugural season opens on May 6, 1989, with The Savoy Ballroom, a program re-creating the big-band era, featuring the Savoy Reunion Band with Panama Francis, Al Cobbs, Erskine Hawkins, and the Loren Schoenberg Band with Barbara Lea and alumni from the Benny Goodman Band.

Other inaugural season programs include Blue Lights in the Basement with the Original Dells, Jerry (Iceman) Butler, and the Impressions; The Brooklyn Church in Concert with Don Shirley, Hilda Harris, William Warfield, and the Morgan State University Choir; The Palladium featuring Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Orquestra Broadway, and Israel Lopez; and Nightlife: Africa Caribbean with Arrow, Sister Carol, and the Bhundu Boys.

1988 — The Majestic Theater Advisory Committee, a group of community leaders in the arts, and representatives of Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Borough President’s Office recommend that a new, nonprofit entity be formed to develop multicultural programs from a base within the Majestic Theater. The resulting entity, 651 is incorporated.


Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 03:18 PM
About UsPermalink


Summary of About Us Mission

It is the mission of 651 ARTS to deepen awareness of and appreciation for contemporary performing arts and culture of the African Diaspora, and to provide professional and creative opportunities for performing artists of African descent.

We fulfill our mission by:

  • Presenting live dance, music and theater events in venues throughout Brooklyn;
  • Maintaining a robust educational program that provides unique opportunities for youth in public schools to engage with professional artists from around the globe;
  • Investing in artists by providing financial and other resources needed to advance their careers and to develop new work;
  • Supporting exchange between U.S.-based and African artists in both the United States and Africa;
  • Leveraging years of experience and leadership to advocate for artists, to develop projects that impact the field of performing arts, and to provide expertise about the artists and art forms of the African Diaspora;
  • Linking communities, artists and audiences as close as our Brooklyn neighborhoods, as varied as our metropolitan area, and as integral as our African Homelands.

We abide by the following principles when undertaking our work:

  • A healthy society requires diverse, continuously generative creativity.  To ensure the vibrancy and continuity of artistic creation requires a commitment to both artist development and audience engagement.
  • Art and art appreciation must be fostered and nurtured in each generation: Having a community which values our art and culture in the future requires education of young people today.
  • Being a culturally specific organization provides a distinct platform on which the multiplicity of perspectives, aesthetics and disciplines being practiced throughout the vastly diverse African Diaspora can be acknowledged and celebrated.
  • Because of our unique history, Americans and especially Black Americans value connections to the heritage and culture of Africa. Channels for communication, collaboration and information between the United States and Africa need to be expanded and fortified.


Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 03:17 PM
About UsPermalink

Artist Development Initiative

Summary of Artist Development Initiative

651 ARTS creates a “safe haven” in which artists can take artistic risks and connect with their community.  Through 651 ARTS’ Artist Development Initiative, artists are provided with a range of support to assist them in developing new works.  This support, tailored to match the needs of the specific project, might include the provision of rehearsal space; conducting community roundtables around specific subject matter related to the work; hosting open rehearsals; assisting in the development of humanities activities; and/or matching an artist with a specific community to inform the development of the work.  651 ARTS has supported the development of work by numerous artists including: poet Sekou Sundiata, choreographers Dean Moss and Marlies Yearby, theater artists Rha Goddess and Okwui Okpokwasili, and theater artist/writer Carl Hancock Rux.

Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 12:38 PM

Moving Words

Summary of Education In School

This literary series features performing artists talking about the books that have influenced their work for an audience of area high school students. 651 ARTS provides the books free-of-charge to students who read them in advance of meeting with the artist. The purpose of the program is to use literacy as an access point for contemporary performance work while encouraging reading, critical thinking and discussion.  Launched in 2003, Moving Words has featured artists such as choreographers Ronald K. Brown, Gesel Mason, and Marlies Yearby, as well as hip-hop theater artists Rha Goddess and Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and dance theater artist Okwui Okpokwasili.

March 2010 — David Thomson
Thomson was joined in residence at Paul Robeson High School by artist Pamela Sneed where they examined Thulani Davis’s poignant novel, 1959. Thomson, who was born that same year, created a performance work based on writers’ explorations of the events that occurred in the year of his birth. Thomson worked with students to create their own personal narratives using events from their own birth years as a jumping off point to weave stories about their lives and identity.

December 2009 — Monica L. Williams
Theater artist and educator Monica L. Williams and 34 seniors at Paul Robeson High School used Richard Wright’s seminal novel Native Son as a jumping off point to explore the question — How do we define a Native Son or Daughter of America today?

After four days of discussion, small team work, visual and writing exercises, the program culminated in a student-created dramatic interpretation of today’s Native Son/Daughter, and incorporated a poem written and read by their teacher Stefanie Siegel.

May 2009 — Toni Blackman
Lyrical Ambassador and Spoken Word Artist Toni Blackman chose the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for the senior class of Paul Robeson High School. Toni used the central character, Santiago, to connect students to the limitless powers of fulfilling one’s dreams. The students created poetry daily and by the end of the week, they had all written a dream checklist.

May 2009 — Carlton Turner
Arts Activist and Performing Artist Carlton Turner used three short stories from the book Scripts: Sketches and Tales of Urban Mississippi. Students from Bailey’s Cafe read “Transitions”, “Poni’s Trails” and “Salvation.” Carlton’s residency was focused on discussions of past and current stereotypes and how to deconstruct them through art.

May 2008 — Michael Hill
Blues guitarist Michael Hill chose the short story Red Wind by Raymond Chandler to show how inspiration for song writing can come from anywhere. Red Wind inspired Hill’s blues tune “Evil in the Air.” Students from Bailey’s Cafe were given the opportunity to write their own blues tunes based on stories currently in the news.

May 2007 — Nora Chipaumire
Choreographer Nora Chipaumire worked with students at Paul Robeson High School using The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing. This novel, an analysis of the colonial experience, tells the story of a tragic married couple in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and serves as a metaphor for the colonization of Africa. This book has informed Chipaumire’s current dance work, which deals with issues of her native Zimbabwe. Chipaumire is a solo dance artist who investigates the collaborative process within cultural, political, economic, and technological identities of African contemporary life.

March 2007 — Christalyn Wright
Choreographer Christalyn Wright worked with students at Paul Robeson High School using Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees which inspired her multi-media dance quartet, Struggles with Words, Attitudes, and Great Expectations. The Secret Life of Bees (2002) is set in South Carolina, 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act and intensifying racial unrest. This Southern Gothic novel, centered on a young woman, is a coming-of-age tale exploring loss, betrayal, the scarcity of love, and the power of women coming together to heal those wounds, mother each other and themselves, and create a sanctuary of true family and home. Wright is a Brooklyn-based choreographer/dancer whose work has been presented at numerous venues nationally and internationally including Danspace Project (New York), The Windybrow Center for the Arts (Johannesburg), Painted Bride (Philadelphia), and The Penumbra Theatre (St. Paul).

October 2006 — April Yvette Thompson
Theater artist April Yvette Thompson led a group of students at Brooklyn High School for the Arts in a series of discussions and theater workshops using Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. 651 ARTS worked with Thompson, and her collaborator Jessica Blank, in the development of her theater work, Liberty City. This piece, a potent rendering of the melting pot of the Miami of Thompson’s childhood, was shown on our Salon 651 series in 2005 and 2006. Parable of the Sower (1993) is a grim near future novel, set in California from 2024 to 2027, that exaggerates trends in American life apparent in the late 1980s and early 1990s — fear of crime, the rise of gated communities, illiteracy, designer drugs and drug addiction, a growing gap between rich and poor, and global warming. Thompson is a prolific actress who co-starred in The Exonerated for Court TV with Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Delroy Lindo and Susan Sarandon, as well as the off-Broadway play of the same name.

April 2005 — Okwui Okpokwasili
Performing Artist, Writer and Dancer Okwui Okpokwasili chose the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. She spent her residency with Stefanie Siegel’s English class at Paul Robeson High School.  Students were also able to attend Salon 651’s series presentation of her work Pent Up: A Revenge Dance.

March 2005 — Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, an arts activist, spoken word artist and National Poetry Slam champion from San Francisco worked with 25 high school students from Paul Robeson High School for one week, utilizing Ntozake Shange’s 1975 theatre piece For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf — about the power of black women to survive in the face of despair and pain. During his residency, Joseph had students write snapshots of their current daily lives.

April 2005 — Gesel Mason
Choreographer Gesel Mason utilized Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind’s A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey From the Inner City to the Ivy League in working with students at Brooklyn High School of the Arts AP English class. The book, culled from Suskind’s series of Wall Street Journal reports, recounts the true life story of Cedric Jennings, a talented black teenager struggling to succeed in one of the worst public high schools in Washington, DC, and his subsequent success at Brown University.

May 2004 — Rha Goddess
Rha selected Lisa Bright and Dark by John Neufield as her book. Rha worked with students from JHS 113 in Brooklyn. Rha visited the class, read some excerpts of her piece Meditations with the Goddess and led a discussion with the class about the occurrence of mental illness in youth.

May 2004 — Marlies Yearby
Choreographer Marlies Yearby conducted a Moving Words program for a group of female students from Paul Robeson High School. Over three workshop sessions, Marlies utilized her “In Our Bones” technique to access the participants’ personal “herstories,” through music, voice, movement and breath. Marlies selected The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz as a springboard for the workshop.  The workshops became artistic incubators that empowered, supported and nurtured the students.

May 2003 — Ronald K. Brown with Author Kenji Jasper
In this inaugural session of Moving Words choreographer Ronald K. Brown participated in a moderated dialogue with author Kenji Jasper for 40 students from Erasmus High School for the Humanities.  They discussed Jasper’s novel, Dark, and the influence this novel had on Brown’s dance piece High Life.  Students read Dark in advance of Moving Words, and Brown showed video excerpts of High Life to give further context to the discussion.

Posted by Ernesto Santos on 03/19 at 12:32 PM