Via Community Works NYC:
More than 300 artists, dancers, community leaders and Harlem neighbors gathered at MIST Harlem, 46 West 116th St., on Monday, Aug. 29, to celebrate “harlem is . . . Dance,” an art exhibition and performance evening created by Community Works NYC to highlight the importance of dance and movement in maintaining Harlem as a cultural capital. The program saluted contributions over the years from Marie Brooks, Ruth Williams and Dele Husbands in creating schools of dance and companies that brought dance traditions to young people and performed across the city and beyond.
The free exhibition itself, which will continue through November 17, features the works of 14 emerging and established artists who live or work in Harlem. Their diverse works honor the traditions of swing, tap, jazz, classical, modern and African dance through painting, photography, digital art, collage, quilting, printmaking, archival images and commissioned new work. Participating artists include Andrea Arroyo, Tania L. Balan-Gaubert, Sandra A.M. Bell, Elan Cadiz-Ferguson, Ramona Candy, Randy Dottin, Lance Johnson, Dindga McCannon, Byron McCray, Ruth Morgan, Tomo Mori, Ozier Muhammad, Ademola Olugebefola, John Reddick and Grace Williams.
A centerpiece of Monday’s performances was a powerful poetic tribute called Harlem is A Dance Divine by Abdel Salaam, founder of Forces of Nature Dance Theater. Other performers were girls from Francoise Brooks’ Harlem Dance Leadership Program highlighting Caribbean influences taught by her mother, Marie Brooks, and Barbara Jones’ Harlem Swing Dance Society.
The exhibition is part of a year-long celebration called, “harlem is Uptown and Downtown,” tracing the influence of Black Americans on the city’s culture since its earliest days. Community Works is a nonprofit arts organization that since 1990 has worked to bridge diverse neighborhoods using the arts to highlight unique neighborhood heroes and legacy-makers, and working with youth and community members to keep those stories alive.
Photos by Hubert Willams