Harlem Stage Announces New Details For Landmark 40th Anniversary Season

September 5, 2023

Harlem Stage (Artistic Director and CEO Patricia Cruz) makes tickets available for its 40th Anniversary Season on Tuesday, September 5, 2023.

Announces the full lineups for its Uptown Nights music series and the newly launched Uptown Nights Latin Music Series. The milestone season celebrates the institution that has, since its founding, provided an indispensable platform to both emerging and established artists of color working in an array of forms. In events throughout 2023–2024, Harlem Stage engages artists with whom the organization has, through four decades, cultivated lasting relationships—to in turn champion visionary emerging artists of color they admire, offering a platform and building relationships for the institution’s future.

Artistic Director and CEO Patricia Cruz says, “Artists have some of the biggest ears and eyes for exciting new work; they are uniquely positioned to spot, and understand, both the daring and the technical requirements of extraordinary artists at the beginnings of their careers. As emerging artists are lifted up, the whole field is lifted up, and our culture is lifted up and sustained. On the occasion of our 40th anniversary, we see a process of renewal, facilitated in part by artists acting as guest curators, providing us an opportunity to expand our curatorial vision, and discover the new for ourselves and our audiences.

Originating as a hub for art and ideas long excluded from and ignored by other cultural institutions, Harlem Stage has in its 40 years become an epicenter for groundbreaking performance and vital thought from around the corner and across the globe, helping sustain and propel forward the monumental and ever-evolving artistic legacy of one of the world’s most culturally influential neighborhoods. In an era of surging censorship of ideas that challenge dominant historical narratives, Harlem Stage continues to offer thoughtful, thought-provoking, and eye-opening work from voices that expand our understanding of the world.”


Cruz adds, “Harlem Stage began in a time of great inequity, resulting in a form of censorship by exclusion of visionary artists of color. Our intent was to level the playing field by supporting the development of their new work in new forms. Artists of color are constantly in a dialogue with their worlds—and Harlem Stage has always sought to be a place where all of our constituents can engage in the kind of transformative discourse that enriches our lives and broadens our horizons. Join us at our intimate and historic land-marked theater where artists create fearlessly and audiences share in the flow of ideas.”

The season kicks off with a performance by José James, co-presented with Bryant Park on the occasion of Harlem Stage’s 40th Anniversary. James performs On & On: José James Sings Badu, his latest record honoring the legendary high priestess of neo-soul, singer-songwriter Erykah Badu.

Throughout the season, acclaimed artists—recipients of prestigious awards and honors including the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, Doris Duke Artist Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, The Herb Alpert Award, United States Artists Fellowship, and GRAMMY, Tony, Obie, and Bessie Awards—bring together other creative forces in their orbit for unique events that embody Harlem Stage’s mode of looking back and creating forward. Jason Moran’s guest-curated event, for instance, reimagines a program Cruz first presented at Harlem Stage (then known as Aaron Davis Hall) in 1999 celebrating the music of Duke Ellington—for which Moran was the youngest of six pianists (and is now the only living pianist to have participated). Now, nearly 25 years later—on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Ellington’s birth—Moran organizes an evening, presented in the round, with legendary jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim alongside extraordinary piano talents Bertha Hope, Joanne Brackeen, and Matthew Whitaker in Pianos for Duke Reimagined: Featuring Jason Moran, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Friends (April 26 & 27, 2024). Vijay Iyer enlists musicians Nasheet Waits (drummer), Milena Casado (trumpet player), Mark Shim (saxophonist), and others in celebration of another jazz legend, composer and pianist Andrew Hill (March 1 & 2, 2024).


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Ambrose Akinmusire’s multipart suite banyan seed speaks to the power of intergenerational connection, using interviews to coalesce community between jazz elders and younger musicians (March 29 & 30, 2024). (This work is one of this season’s WaterWorks commissions—a program created to identify, cultivate, and nurture the talents of visionary artists of color). Another special 40th Anniversary project, Craig Harris’ TONGUES OF FIRE (in a harlem state of mind), convenes three generations of Harlem-based artists to explore the community’s evolution from the mid-70s through today (October 20 & 21, 2023).

E-Moves, Harlem Stage’s flagship dance series known for showcasing dance artists across the spectrum of their careers, celebrates 25 years. On the occasion of Harlem Stage’s 40th Anniversary, the organization invites back to the Gatehouse artists who have been critical to the legacy of the institution’s dance programming and who serve as inspiration for the future of dance. Choreographer Bill T. Jones has participated in various presentations at Harlem Stage since the 1980s; in 2006, he created the Harlem Stage commission Chapel/Chapter, inaugurating the Harlem Stage Gatehouse with what The New York Times would deem the “most affecting, the most disturbing, the most powerful and the most compassionate” dance from Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. In this season’s E-Moves, Jones returns to present a dynamic program of works, including an intervention, revisiting and reflecting on Degga (1995)—a performance that was created through a legendary collaboration between Jones, Max Roach, and Toni Morrison—as well as a piece from an emerging artist he will select (April 19 & 20, 2024). Ronald K. Brown’s company EVIDENCE also returns for an evening highlighting emerging choreographer Joya Powell while revisiting beloved repertory (October 13 & 14, 2023). nora chipaumire—whose revolutionary dance performance has enlivened Harlem Stage on numerous occasions—presents an immersive performance installation that turns into a dance party, ShebeenDUB, featuring designs from celebrated artists Ari Marcopoulos and Kara Walker, and constructed by Matt Jackson Studio (May 17 & 18, 2024). Camille A. Brown, who has a long and rich history of performing work at Harlem Stage, will present a new work of her own, and curates works by dancers/choreographers who have contributed to her growing body of creations—Chloe Davis, Juel D. Lane, Mayte Natalio, Rickey Tripp, and Maleek Washington (June 14 and 15, 2024).

The past inspires innovative performance throughout the season. In another WaterWorks commission this season, Tamar-kali presents excerpts from Black Damask—an opera she is developing featuring a libretto by Harlem Stage Associate Artistic Director and Curator-in-Residence, Carl Hancock Rux, with stage direction by James Blaszko, about the life and times of William Dorsey Swann. Once enslaved, Swann was the first known person to identify as a “queen of drag” (May 3 & 4, 2024). george emilio sanchez collaborates with visual artist Patty Ortiz on In the Court of the Conqueror, a solo performance unpacking 200-year-old U.S. Supreme Court Rulings that have diminished the Tribal Sovereignty of Native Nations (November 3, 2023). Tony-winning musician and composer Stew performs an irreverent musical tribute to radical poet and playwright Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones’ influences within his own art and life, HIGH SUBSTITUTE FOR THE DREAD LECTURER: Baraka Jones in Dub (March 22 & 23, 2024).

Harlem Stage also returns with its beloved music series, Uptown Nights, to present a dynamic set of artists across a wide range of genres throughout the anniversary year. From September to December 2023, the institution inaugurates the Uptown Nights Latin Music Series, an exciting lineup that celebrates music from the Latin diaspora, including Colombian-born, pan-Latin pianist, composer, and educator Pablo Mayor, performing with his Folklore Urbano Orchestra (September 22, 2023); Cuban-born MacArthur Fellow and GRAMMY-winning drummer, composer, and bandleader, Dafnis Prieto, with the New York debut of songs from his recent Cantar album (October 27, 2023); all-women mariachi band Flor de Toloache (co-presented with Carnegie Hall Citywide, November 10, 2023); and Afro-Dominican bandleader and guitarist Yasser Tejeda, performing a combination of traditional folkloric music, rock with Caribbean rhythms, and jazz, culminating in a dance party with music spun by DJ Sabine Blaizin, co-presented with World Music Institute and Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (December 1, 2023).

As part of Uptown Nights, Harlem Stage presents an electric double bill featuring international punkSoul/Rock artist Kimberly Nichole and Ian Isiah, a rising star in music, fashion, and LGBTQ+ activism (January 26, 2024). Harlem Stage also collaborates with Harlem-based Sugar Hill Salon and Concert Artists Guild to curate an evening of chamber music at the Gatehouse, featuring works by living composers of color, performed by musicians from each organization’s ranks, including Alexander Davis (bassoon), Adam W. Sadberry (flute), David Valbuena (clarinet), and Wynona Wang (piano) (February 23, 2024).

In a work-in-progress showcase that culminates a yearlong experience, Harlem Stage presents works by the 2023 WaterWorks Emerging Artists cohort: interdisciplinary performing artist and painter Shantelle Courvoisier Jackson; singer/songwriter Hannah Lemmons; choreographer and dancer Bobby Morgan; interdisciplinary artist, composer, and pianist Mary Prescott; and trumpeter and composer Kalí Rodríguez-Peña (December 9, 2023).

Finally, on Monday, June 3, near the season’s close, the Harlem Stage’s 40th Anniversary Gala celebrates the significance of the organization’s history and work, its transformative mission, and its boundary-pushing future.

40th Anniversary Season Schedule and Programming Descriptions

Harlem Stage 40th Anniversary Season Kickoff Concert

José James

On & On: José James Sings Badu
Thu, Sep. 14, 2023
Bryant Park

Often referred to as a jazz singer for the hip-hop generation — or as Pitchfork called him, “one of the suavest vocal improvisers on the scene” — vocalist José James combines jazz, soul, R&B, and spoken word into his own unique brand of vocal jazz. An artist who shows love to those who inspire him, James has dedicated entire projects to artists whose music he’s admired — over the past decade, James has brought tributes to Billie Holiday and Gil Scott-Heron to the historic Harlem Stage Gatehouse.

Co-presented by Harlem Stage and Bryant Park on the occasion of Harlem Stage’s 40th Anniversary, James performs On & On: José James Sings Badu, his latest record, honoring the legendary high priestess of neo-soul, singer-songwriter Erykah Badu. James’ new project finds him throwing down the gauntlet on the past 100 years of jazz singing while charting a path forward for the culture. The album, produced by James, investigates the breadth of Badu’s iconic catalog, from her groundbreaking debut, Baduizm, to her contemporary masterpieces, New Amerykah Pt. 1 and 2.

“It’s simple,” James explains. “Jazz singing has always been about interpreting the highest level of standards of your time. And for my generation Erykah Badu has been one of the most innovative and incisive songwriters. Her work has proven to be groundbreaking in a social, musical, and artistic sense.” Join us at Bryant Park for a celebration that both closes Bryant Park’s summer Picnic Performances series and kicks off Harlem Stage’s landmark 40th Anniversary Season.

[Uptown Nights Latin Music Series]

Pablo Mayor’s Folklore Urbano Orchestra
Fri, Sep. 22, 2023

Kicking off Harlem Stage’s Uptown Nights Latin Music Series is Colombian-born, Pan-Latin pianist, composer, and educator Pablo Mayor and his powerhouse 13-piece Folklore Urbano Orchestra. Upon arriving in New York City in 1999, Mayor began producing modern Latin American music inspired by his native Colombia, combining formal studies in jazz with a passion for folkloric Latin American rhythms. Mayor’s playing and arrangements have been featured in performances and on recordings by GRAMMY winners Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Colombian singer Totó la Momposina, Puerto Rican pioneers Los Pleneros de la 21, and the legendary Cuban Orquesta Broadway.

Mayor is the founder and producer of NYC’s Colombian music festival Encuentro NYC, and since 2016, he has been in residence at iD Studio Theater in the South Bronx. In this spirited dance party featuring a range of styles including Colombian music, salsa, and other music from across the Americas, Mayor and his vibrant band perform his mission of #GlobalMusictoUnify, lifting the roof off the historic Harlem Stage Gatehouse. Preceded by a salsa and Colombian dance class led by choreographer, dancer, and Harlem Stage commissioned artist, Daniel Fetecua, who will teach salsa, cumbia, and currulao. The concert is followed by a salsa dance party co-hosted with Talia Castro-Pozo.

[E-Moves]

Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE
Fri, Oct. 13 & Sat, Oct. 14, 2023

Founded in 1985 and based in Brooklyn, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE seamlessly melds traditional African and Afro-Cuban dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word. First presented at our previous home, Aaron Davis Hall, in 1998, the company returns for a not-to-be-missed performance featuring dances that are “pure Brown: otherworldly, charged, urgent in their undulating sweep and unaffectedly fervent” (The New York Times).

In celebration of Harlem Stage’s 40th anniversary, EVIDENCE is honored to reprise Palo y Machete, an excerpt of the evening-length work One Shot. Originally choreographed for EVIDENCE Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag, One Shot was commissioned for the opening of the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, PA. The work is a tribute to the legendary photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris, who was known for capturing his subjects in one click of the camera.

The evening features the extraordinary duet March set to a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which illustrates a physical story of perseverance, dignity, and collective strength and care-taking. The program also includes the striking ensemble work Upside Down, an excerpt from the evening-length work Destiny, which was created during a residency collaboration between Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE and a company from the Ivory Coast, Jeune Ballet d’Afrique Noire, helmed by choreographer Rokiya Kone. This seminal collaboration, a part of Africa Exchange (our former home Aaron Davis Hall, 651 Arts, NJPAC, and others), marked Brown’s signature breakout work where he used contemporary and African dance vocabulary in his now widely known and highly regarded fusion style. It remains one of EVIDENCE’s most popular and beloved works and speaks to the ideas of the importance of community and the destiny of the soul.

Inspired by Harlem Stage’s 40th Anniversary Season’s theme of “Looking Back to Create Forward,” Brown invites emerging choreographer Joya Powell to present a work. A multiethnic Harlemite, Powell is a Bessie Award-winning choreographer and educator passionate about community, activism, and dances of the African Diaspora. Hailed by The New York Times as a “radiant performer,” Powell founded Movement of the People Dance Company in 2005, a company dedicated to addressing sociocultural injustices through multidisciplinary Afrofuturist immersive contemporary dance. Hair Ties, created in collaboration with MOPDC dancers and community members, is a multidisciplinary, dance-theater piece inspired by America’s fear of Black power and beauty. Influenced by the artful and imaginative responses to the Tignon Laws of the 1700s, this evocative work is a celebration of Black beauty, creativity, and ingenuity in the face of perpetual oppression.

Craig Harris
TONGUES OF FIRE (in a harlem state of mind)
Fri, Oct. 20 & Sat, Oct. 21, 2023

Following the success of his Harlem Stage commissioned work Nocturnal Nubian Ball for Conscientious Ballers and Cultural Shot Callers in 2021, trombonist, composer, and sonic shaman Craig Harris presents TONGUES OF FIRE (in a harlem state of mind), a concert of music, poetry, and movement. Harris explores the evolution of the Harlem community from the mid-seventies to the present day, gathering an all-star intergenerational cast spanning three generations of Harlem-based artists.

Harris’ musical journey began when touring with the inimitable Sun Ra, leading him on a path that affirmed his place in performance with and among the ranks of creative music’s most progressive thought-leaders. A prolific composer and bandleader of various-sized ensembles, he has amassed an extensive discography of his own influential work in addition to contributing to the projects of his esteemed colleagues. Steeped in the tradition of using his musical voice to comment on social injustice and humanity, and an active member of the Harlem community in which he lives, Harris is a 2022 nominee for the NAACP Image Awards as co-composer of the score for the Oscar-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah. He released his newest recording, Managing the Mask, in 2022.

[Uptown Nights Latin Music Series]

Dafnis Prieto
Cantar

Fri, Oct. 27, 2023

Last seen at Harlem Stage’s Black Arts Movement Conference in May 2023 with Henry Threadgill and Craig Taborn, GRAMMY-winning Cuban-born drummer, composer, bandleader, and 2011 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Dafnis Prieto presents the New York debut of his heralded 2022 album, Cantar, featuring songs with music and lyrics by Prieto. Since arriving in the U.S. from Cuba in 1999, Prieto, “one of the most multidimensional artists working today” (JazzTimes), has honed his forward-looking musical vision across a range of styles and formats. In the process, he has become equally known for his composing brilliance and his electrifying drumming, comfortably exploring a wide spectrum of musical vocabular­ies.

Cantar, called a “marvel of acrobatic musicianship” by The New York Times and “breaking new ground” by NPR, reveals a new side of Prieto — lyricist. He grew up with a great love of popular songs and melodies, influenced by Cuban boleros, Los Van Van, Elis Regina, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Caetano Veloso, Queen, Stevie Wonder, and more. Prieto felt inspired to create a record that would engage listeners through both music and words. He invited GRAMMY-winning Brazilian-born singer Luciana Souza as his collaborator on the album, an admirer of her talents as one of the world’s leading vocalists and interpreters (she ultimately contributed lyrics on several tracks as well). The album features songs in three languages — English, Spanish, and Portuguese — and aims to reach a global audience.

Recorded in September 2021, the project is co-produced by legendary GRAMMY-winning producer and Souza’s husband, Larry Klein (who has collaborated with Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, and many others), and GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY-winning producer, and Harlem Stage Managing Director, Eric Oberstein, Prieto’s collaborator since 2016.

george emilio sanchez

In the Court of the Conqueror

in collaboration with visual artist Patty Ortiz
Fri, Nov. 3, 2023

Over the last 30 years, george emilio sanchez has built a reputation as a performer of profound contributions as an artist advancing cultural reform through innovation and a richly crafted and defined artistic voice. In the Court of The Conqueror features a solo performance by sanchez and visual storytelling by his collaborator, visual artist Patty Ortiz. Together, they confront the history of how the U.S. Supreme Court has diminished the Tribal Sovereignty of Native Nations. The piece also tells the story of sanchez’s experiences of navigating generational trauma regarding his Indigenous identity while being raised in an Ecuadorian immigrant household.    

The work focuses on several Federal Indian Landmark cases, leading up to the Johnson v. M’Intosh 1823 Supreme Court case that applied the Doctrine of Discovery that still holds legal precedent in our courts of the conqueror. sanchez and Ortiz traveled across hundreds of geographic miles and ancestral homelands to create this interdisciplinary performance that combines text and video projections to reveal this country’s ongoing conflicts with Native Nations in search of Indigenous justice and sovereignty.  

As part of his “artistic research” for this piece, sanchez enrolled in a Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law program at the University of Oklahoma during the COVID-19 lockdown and graduated in August 2021. This performance is the second installment of sanchez’s “Performing the Constitution” series.    

[Uptown Nights Latin Music Series]

Flor de Toloache
Co-Presented with Carnegie Hall Citywide
Fri, Nov. 10, 2023

Latin GRAMMY winners Flor de Toloache, New York City’s first and only all-women mariachi group, make their Harlem Stage debut, presented in collaboration with Carnegie Hall Citywide. Founded in 2008, singers and founding members Mireya I. Ramos and Shae Fiol lead the four-piece band whose instrumentation includes vihuela, violin, trumpet, and guitarrón. Hailing from diverse cultural backgrounds, the ensemble brings a contemporary flair to traditional Mexican music, casting a spell on audiences like the legendary Toloache flower still being used in Mexico as a love potion. Making a name for themselves on NPR’s Tiny Desk series, where NPR Music stated, “There should be fireworks named after this band, for all the intensity and color and life that bursts forth from Flor de Toloache,” experience how this vibrant group pushes the boundaries of a centuries-old tradition.

[Uptown Nights Latin Music Series]

Yasser Tejeda & DJ Sabine Blaizin

Co-Presented with World Music Institute & Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
Fri, Dec. 1, 2023

In this special collaboration with World Music Institute and Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, rescheduled from June 2023, Harlem Stage presents Afro-Dominican bandleader and guitarist Yasser Tejeda performing a combination of traditional folkloric music, jazz, rock, and Caribbean rhythms. Keeping us moving before and after the performance, DJ Sabine Blaizin (Oyasound) will spin Global House and Soul, Afrotech, Afrobeat, and other diasporic Afro-Caribbean dance music with a nod to her Haitian roots.

WaterWorks Emerging Artists Showcase
Featuring Shantelle Courvoisier Jackson, Hannah Lemmons, Bobby Morgan, Mary Prescott 
Kalí Rodríguez-Peña
Sat, Dec. 9, 2023

For nearly 30 years, the WaterWorks Emerging Artists program, formerly Fund for New Work, has supported artists of color emerging in their careers and artistic practice. Today, the program continues this tradition by awarding commissions to five early-career artists of color per year. The year-long program offers a space among a multidisciplinary cohort of artists who receive mentorship, critical feedback, professional development workshops, rehearsal space, and production support. Throughout the duration of the experience, artists develop an original performance piece.

In this culminating work-in-progress showcase, Harlem Stage presents works by the 2023 WaterWorks Emerging Artists cohort: interdisciplinary performing artist and painter Shantelle Courvoisier Jackson; singer/songwriter Hannah Lemmons; choreographer and dancer Bobby Morgan; interdisciplinary artist, composer, and pianist Mary Prescott; and trumpeter and composer Kalí Rodríguez-Peña.

[Uptown Nights]

Ian Isiah + Kimberly Nichole
Fri, Jan. 26, 2024

As part of its beloved music series, Uptown Nights, Harlem Stage presents an electric double bill that promises to get you on your feet — Ian Isiah and Kimberly Nichole.

Raised in the heart of Brooklyn with a strong gospel stripe, Ian Isiah has grown into the forefront of both fashion and LGBTQ+ movements, first with Hood By Air and now Telfar. He has toured with and has been featured on numerous Blood Orange projects and appeared on records by Yves Tumor, Theophilus London, and Mykki Blanco. 2018’s Shugga Sextape Vol. 1 took the music world by storm and, with his R&B and silky soul-infused AUNTIE, a collaborative EP with Chromeo, Ian has continued to break ground and prove himself to be a true rising star.

Harlem Stage alum and punkSoul/Rock artist Kimberly Nichole (Kim Nicky) has a sound shaped by the groundbreaking grunge music of her hometown, Seattle, and the southern blues and gospel roots of her parents. Kimberly made a name for herself in New York City on the underground music scene and in nightlife by way of the late night club The Box. She has shared stages with Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Nancy Wilson (Heart), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), and Joe Walsh (The Eagles), as well as the likes of Nona Hendryx, Ledisi, Kehlani, Janelle Monae, and Christina Aguilera (who served as her coach when she was a finalist on The Voice). Now based in London, Kimberly returns to the Gatehouse for a special set showcasing her distinctive style, soaring voice, and edgy showmanship.

[Uptown Nights]

An Evening of Chamber Music presented with Sugar Hill Salon & Concert Artists Guild
Fri, Feb. 23, 2024

As part of its Uptown Nights music series, Harlem Stage collaborates with Harlem-based Sugar Hill Salon — one of the first chamber music series and artistic collectives that centers on black and brown woodwind artistry in classical music — and Concert Artists Guild —which has, since 1951, launched the careers of hundreds of emerging classical artists and ensembles — to curate an evening of chamber music at the Gatehouse, featuring works by living composers of color, performed by musicians from each organization’s ranks, including Alexander Davis (bassoon), Adam W. Sadberry (flute), David Valbuena (clarinet), and Wynona Wang (piano).

Vijay Iyer
Eternal Spirit: Vijay Iyer and Friends Celebrate the Music of Andrew Hill
Fri, Mar. 1 & Sat, Mar. 2, 2024

Described by The New York Times as a “social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker, and multicultural gateway,” composer and pianist Vijay Iyer is one of the leading music-makers of his generation. Iyer returns, following his Harlem Stage commissioned work, Holding It Down, to guest curate and perform in Eternal Spirit: Vijay Iyer and Friends Celebrate the Music of Andrew Hill. Iyer leads a stellar ensemble, including drummer Nasheet Waits, trumpet player Milena Casado, saxophonist Mark Shim, and others, through his arrangements of compositions by his friend and hero, the vastly influential jazz piano legend Andrew Hill.

Andrew Hill’s album Black Fire, released on Blue Note Records in 1964, was a “revelatory vision of jazz — and impacted generations of progressive pianists” (TIDAL Magazine). Iyer reflects on Black Fire, “there’s so much wildness going on inside of it…You could not write that down, whatever that is. It’s just in its own universe” (TIDAL Magazine).


 A reflection from Patricia Cruz, Harlem Stage Artistic Director & CEO:
 “I have been privileged to learn of, follow, and love Andrew Hill’s music for decades. He and my husband, the late artist Emilio Cruz became friends and mutual admirers. I first presented Andrew in the early ‘90s at the Studio Museum in Harlem in the Artist’s Voice series that I created. Andrew sat down at the piano declaring to play something with which we were all familiar. I joined the audience bewildered and bewitched as we tried to find the familiar in the music he performed. He concluded his performance by claiming it as his version of an ‘old Negro spiritual.’ A spiritual transformed and reinvented into an unrecognizable piano solo, grounded in tradition but radically reimagined and transcendent. We later presented Andrew Hill in our Pianos for Duke concert in 1999.”


Stew
HIGH SUBSTITUTE FOR THE DREAD LECTURER: Baraka Jones in Dub
Fri, Mar. 22 & Sat, Mar. 23, 2024

Tony Award-winning playwright, composer, performer, and Harvard University professor Stew (Passing Strange, Notes of a Native Song) premieres HIGH SUBSTITUTE FOR THE DREAD LECTURER: Baraka Jones in Dub. The second in his series of “black super-hero free-constructions,” Stew works through Amiri Baraka’s, and Leroi Jones’, twin influences on his life and art. Baraka, previously known as Leroi Jones, was a legendary writer and founder of the Black Arts Movement. In the spirit of Stew’s critically acclaimed Notes of a Native Song, the musical meditation on James Baldwin, also commissioned by Harlem Stage, HIGH SUBSTITUTE will irreverently transmit troubadour songs scribbled on and about the life trail blazed by Baraka Jones.

[WaterWorks Established Artists]

Ambrose Akinmusire
banyan seed
Fri, Mar. 29 & Sat, Mar. 30, 2024


Described by NPR Music as “a trumpeter of deep expressive resources and a composer of kaleidoscopic vision,” composer, trumpeter, and bandleader Ambrose Akinmusire has made a home at the crossroads of different musical forms and languages, from post-bop and avant-garde jazz to contemporary chamber music and hip-hop to singer-songwriter aesthetics. Akinmusire returns to Harlem Stage during its 40th Anniversary Season to present banyan seed. He builds on his interest in the intersection of the griot, mentor, and oral historian in social history to develop a multi-part suite and companion video installation. Like the banyan tree, which starts as a plant growing on another plant to become a tree of far-flung roots and interwoven vines, the project incorporates interviews with jazz elders to share ideas, knowledge, history, and community with younger musicians, and to connect audiences to the living stories of jazz — its social innovation and endless creativity.

[E-Moves]
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company
Fri, Apr. 19 & Sat, Apr. 20, 2024

Choreographer Bill T. Jones has participated in various presentations at Harlem Stage since the 1980s; in 2006, he created the Harlem Stage commission Chapel/Chapter, inaugurating the Harlem Stage Gatehouse with what The New York Times would deem the “most affecting, the most disturbing, the most powerful and the most compassionate” dance from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. Born in 1982 out of an 11-year collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane (1948-1988), the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the dance-theater world.

Jones returns to Harlem Stage to present a dynamic program of works, including work from an emerging artist he will select. As part of the evening and the centennial celebration of the late jazz drummer and composer Max Roach, Jones performs an intervention, revisiting and reflecting on Degga (1995), a performance that was created through a legendary collaboration between Jones, Roach, and Toni Morrison.

Jason Moran
Pianos for Duke Reimagined: Featuring Jason Moran, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Friends
Fri, Apr. 26 & Sat, Apr. 27, 2024

Benefit Concert Celebrating Harlem Stage’s 40th Anniversary on Sat, Apr. 27

Benefit to include concert, a post-performance conversation with Jason Moran and Abdullah Ibrahim, and a cocktail reception.

Pianist, composer, and educator Jason Moran — “an artist with an eye for connections among the past, present, and future” (The New York Times) — reimagines Pianos For Duke, a Harlem Stage program dedicated to the music of Duke Ellington, first presented at our previous home Aaron Davis Hall in 1999. Moran performed in the ’99 program, at the time a young up-and-coming pianist, featured alongside superstars of the instrument.

Now, 25 years later — on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Ellington’s birth — Moran guest curates an intimate evening of Ellington’s music in the round, with a single piano in the center of the room, and invites legendary jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, and other acclaimed pianists, including Bertha Hope, Joanne Brackeen, Matthew Whitaker (Saturday), and another pianist to be named (Friday), to join him in the celebratory performance.

[WaterWorks Established Artists]

Tamar-kali

Black Damask
Carl Hancock Rux, Libretto

James Blaszko, Stage Direction
Fri, May 3 & Sat, May 4, 2024


Composer, vocalist, and performing and recording artist Tamar-kali presents performance excerpts from Black Damask — an opera she is developing featuring a libretto by Harlem Stage Associate Artistic Director and Curator-in-Residence, Carl Hancock Rux, about the life and times of William Dorsey Swann, the first known person to identify as a “queen of drag.” A formerly enslaved denizen of our nation’s capital, Swann was the first American on record to pursue legal and political action to defend the LGBTQ community’s right to gather. Set during his detention and conviction in 1896 for “keeping a disorderly house,” a criminal charge often levied against those who ran brothels, the opera explores the interior of Swann’s mind as inquest, analysis, and detainment begin to take their toll.

The program concludes with a discussion featuring Tamar-kali and her collaborators, including Rux and stage director James Blaszko.

[E-Moves]

nora chipaumire
ShebeenDUB
Fri, May 17 & Sat, May 18, 2024

Contemporary artist, choreographer, and performer nora chipaumire  — a “rock star of dance” (The New Yorker) — has enlivened Harlem Stage with her revolutionary dance performances on numerous occasions. chipaumire returns to E-Moves with the New York premiere of ShebeenDUB, which transforms the historic Harlem Stage Gatehouse into a sonic and visual statement of radical black indictment of Empire. Featuring the monumental afternow sound installation, including the soundshitsystem, designed by Ari Marcopoulos and Kara Walker and constructed by Matt Jackson Studio, the evening unfolds in three parts. Audiences are first invited to experience Nehanda, a radio opera by chimpaumire which relays the story of Nehanda, a Shona spirit who inhabits women, and in 1866 caused Charwe Nyakasikana to incite resistance against British colonialists in Central Africa. The opera, unfolding over four hours and played through the sound installation, delves into the Shona people’s experience of the anti-colonial war in Zimbabwe. Following the opera, three dancers and dub DJ perform shebeenDUB within the afternow installation, celebrating dub —  a musical style that emerged in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s which interrogates empire, its aesthetics, and ideas of human rights. To close the night, audiences are invited to participate in a dance party featuring music by a dub DJ.

Harlem Stage 40th Anniversary Gala

Mon, June 2, 2024, 6pm

Join us for Harlem Stage’s 40th Anniversary Gala as we celebrate the significance of our history and work, our transformative mission, and our boundary-pushing future. This milestone event will be a night to remember with special guests, food and cocktails, performances, an awards ceremony, and more. We are excited to come together for an evening honoring art and social justice — it is not one you will want to miss. To find out more information about sponsorship, purchasing a ticket, or making a donation, contact our Development Manager Julianna Friedman at jfriedman@harlemstage.org

[E-Moves]

Camille A. Brown & Guests: BLACK JOY
Featuring Works by Camille A. Brown, Chloe Davis, Juel D. Lane, Mayte Natalio, Rickey Tripp & Maleek Washington

Fri, June 14, and Sat, June 15, 2024

First presented in E-Moves in 2004, celebrated director and choreographer Camille A. Brown returns to Harlem Stage’s flagship dance series to curate works on the theme of BLACK JOY by associate choreographers in her theater and commercial work who are pursuing their own careers in the field — Chloe Davis, Juel D. Lane, Mayte Natalio, Rickey Tripp, and Maleek Washington. Brown will also present an excerpt of a new work featuring her “tour de force” (The New York Times) company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers. Join us for this special evening of dance celebrating the conclusion of Harlem Stage’s 40th Anniversary Season!

Harlem Stage

Harlem Stage is the performing arts center that bridges Harlem’s cultural legacy to contemporary artists of color and dares to provide the artistic freedom that gives birth to new ideas. For nearly 40 years, the organization’s singular mission has been to perpetuate and celebrate the unique and diverse artistic legacy of Harlem and the indelible impression it has made on American culture. Harlem Stage provides opportunity, commissioning, and support for visionary artists of color, makes performances easily accessible to all audiences, and introduces children to the rich diversity, excitement, and inspiration of the performing arts.

Harlem Stage fulfills its mission through commissioning, incubating, and presenting innovative and vital work that responds to the historical and contemporary conditions that shape our lives and the communities the organization serves.

With a long-standing tradition of supporting artists and organizations around the corner and across the globe, Harlem Stage boasts such legendary artists as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Sekou Sundiata, Abbey Lincoln, Sonia Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri, Maya Angelou, and Tito Puente, as well as contemporary artists like Mumu Fresh, Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité, Xian aTunde Adjuah, Tamar-kali, Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jason Moran, José James, Nona Hendryx, Bill T. Jones, and more. Harlem Stage’s education programs serve over 2,300 New York City school children each year.

The New York Times has saluted Harlem Stage as “an invaluable incubator of talent” and it has been hailed as an organization still unafraid to take risks. Harlem Stage’s investment in this visionary talent is often awarded in the early stages of many artists’ careers, and the organization proudly celebrates their increasing success. Five members of its artist family have joined the ranks of MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship awardees: Kyle Abraham (2013), Vijay Iyer (2013), Jason Moran (2010), Bill T. Jones (1994), and Cecil Taylor (1991).

Harlem Stage is a winner of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters William Dawson Award for Programming Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming.

Photo credit: Noma Dumezweni and Pat Cruz.

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