MorDance Brings The Harlem Stride To Harlem

January 20, 2018

Mordancein its mission to create modern, relevant movement that maintains the integrity of classical ballet in collaboration with City College Center For the Arts, present Fats Waller’s Rhythm, a one night only world premiere on February 8 at 7:00  p.m. With this evening length work, Mordance brings eight dancers to Aaron Davis Hall to pay tribute to the Harlem stride pianist and composer Fats Waller.

An evening of explosive dance and live music, Fats Waller’s Rhythm features five of New York’s finest jazz musicians led by acclaimed bassist and composer Benjamin Gallina. Pulling from cultural themes from the 1920’s and 1930’s, Fats Waller’s Rhythm is rooted in classical ballet, en pointe, with influences of modern and contemporary dance, mirroring the exuberance of Waller’s life and body of work. 

“After moving to Harlem four years ago, I’ve seen that the impact Harlem jazz has had on the community is undeniable,” explains Morgan McEwen, Artistic Director of MorDance. “The stride, where the right hand plays the melody and the left a note on the strong beat and a chord on the weak, is full, round and intricate to the ear– and the feet! We have had a challenging and wonderful time exploring the important music of this era and feels right to premiere this piece in the neighborhood where it all began.”


Fats Waller’s Rhythm premieres on Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at Aaron Davis Hall. Tickets are $25 and $15 for students and seniors, available online at

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Aaron Davis Hall is located on the campus of The City College of New York, at West 135th Street and Convent Avenue (129 Convent Avenue).  Convent Avenue is one block east of Amsterdam Avenue and the extension of Morningside Avenue beginning at 127th Street. Aaron Davis Hall is accessible by the 1, B, C, D trains.


Fats Waller’s Rhythm (2018 World Premiere)

Choreography: Morgan McEwen

Music Credit: Fats Waller with musical arrangements and additional material by Benjamin Gallina


  • James Jackson, vocals
  • David Drake, piano
  • Eli Asher, trumpet
  • Jon De Lucia, sax and clarinet
  • Benjamin Gallina, bass and arrangement
  • Joe Nero, drums

Lighting: Becky Heisler

Length: 45 minutes

A one night only world premiere, Fats Waller’s Rhythm, by celebrated choreographer Morgan McEwen to music by legendary Harlem stride pianist and composer, Fats Waller, brings together eight of New York City’s top ballet dancers and a quintet of jazz musicians led by acclaimed bassist and composer Benjamin Gallina. Described by the New York Times as “on her way to developing a distinctive voice, equipped with essential tools: an eye for shaping the arc of a dance as carefully as the transitions and details within it,” Ms. McEwen brings both musicality and athletic rigor to the company’s first premiere in over a year.

CDI is spearheaded and administered by the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College.

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