Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT), which thrilled audiences at the Hollywood Bowl July 7 with trumpeter Terence Blanchard, will present three world-premiere dance works in a free concert sponsored by Grand Performances at California Plaza on Friday, July 30 at 8pm. Actor Roger Guenveur Smith will provide spoken text; and Marcus L Miller’s Freedom Jazz Movement band will perform its trademark world jazz music on the program.
LWDT will present “We Wore The Mask” and “Choices” by Lula Washington; “Reign”, a hip-hop work by Guggenheim Prize winner Rennie Harris; “Angelitos Negros”, by the famed Donald McKale; and “Love Is” by former Alvin Ailey dancer, Christopher Huggins.
Jordi Caballero, who has appeared on “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars”, will premiere “Ritmo” which traces connections between Spanish dance and African, Brazilian and Middle Eastern dance.
Tamica Washington-Miller, LWDT’s Associate Director, will premiere “Spider and the Bee” with accompaniment by Miller’s ensemble. The work illuminates springtime romance.
Members of LWDT’s Youth Dance Ensemble will appear in a new piece by Lula Washington involving hula hoops, jump roping and double-Dutch. Lula Washington is well known for working with children. She runs her own dance school in South Los Angeles and she choreographed dancing fishes in “The Little Mermaid” movie. She also choreographed movement for the Na’vi people in James Cameron’s Avatar.
Roger Guenveur Smith will perform excerpts from his Frederic Douglas theatrical production. Smith starred in the televised “Huey P. Newton Story” and played strong supporting roles in “American Gangster”, “Malcolm X”, “Do the Right Thing” and “School Daze”.
Marcus L. Miller’s Freedom Jazz Movement will perform “Chocolate Pound Cake” and “Open” at the California Plaza concert. The group features Brandon Coleman on keyboard, Kamasi Washington on saxophone, Miles Mosley on bass, Igmar Thomas on trumpet, and Miller himself on traps and percussions. Miller’s ensemble produces a blend of African-influenced world music with jazz. The ensemble has produced four albums, as well as a new release entitled “Quintessential”. As a soloist, Miller has performed with Sheila E, Bennie Maupin, Ben Harper, and the Watts Prophets.
LWDT’s dancers are: Eboni Adams; Queala Clancey; Teresa Harrison; Haniyyah Tahirah; April Thomas Wilkins; Tamica Washington-Miller; Michael Battle; Dwayne Brown; Anthony Burrell; Kris Jobson; Micah Moch; and Jack Virga. Apprentices performing are: Mawiyah Dowd; Mary Runkle; Lynet Shigg; Tiana.
The California Plaza event is produced by Grand Performance, a non-profit organization that presents free performances every summer. The dance company will perform on an outdoor stage and a beautiful cascading waterfall backdrop. The address is 350 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90013. California Plaza parking is $7.50 after 5pm.