Video Production: Kristín Otharsson
Photos: Robert Torres
On February 4th, Celebrity Series lit up the Mildred Ave Community Center in Mattapan with a free community concert of Haitian dance, innovative percussion and video projections, and performances by children from Chittick Elementary and Sumner Boys and Girls Club. The concert was part of our Neighborhood Arts program, which partners with Boston area artists and community organizations in six Boston neighborhoods, offering interactive, artist-led workshops for youth, free public performances in neighborhood venues, and free tickets to main stage performances.
The performance featured students from Chittick Elementary School and Sumner Boys and Girls Club. Neighborhood Arts Artist Ryan Edwards worked with students at Chittick and Sumner to compose original music for dance in his in-school workshops. These compositions provided the music for original dances performed by their peers. At Chittick, students worked with Haitian contemporary choreographer Jean Appolon of Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE), and at Sumner, students worked with dance instructor La’Toya Jackson. The afternoon also showcased performances by Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) and Masary Studios, (drum kit, marimba, video projection) led by Ryan Edwards.
JAE performed sections from their Angajé ballet that references equality and challenges of everyday life in Haiti. Combining modern technique and Haitian folkloric dance, JAE educates audiences about Haitian culture, traditions, history and current issues. Masary Studios includes two percussionists and a video projection artist, and as a team they seek to awaken built environments through live music performance and video projection mapping. The three principal members of Masary have backgrounds that include degrees in fine art, classical, and world percussion, as well as years of experience in West African music studies.
The collaborative performance between Jean Appolon Expressions, Masary Studios, and students from Chittick Elementary and Sumner BGCB was a dialogue of traditional and new art forms, rooted in community. The afternoon concluded with a dance party led by JAE that had all audience members on their feet, followed by a reception for everyone in attendance.
Over 2,400 participants have been a part of 45 Neighborhood Arts activities to date this season, with over 30 activities still to come. We have six more free community concerts this spring, on March 11 at the Kroc Center in Dorchester (Guy Mendilow Ensemble with Boston City Singers), March 12 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the South End (Guy Mendilow Trio), April 1 (Sol y Canto with youth dancers from the Veronica Robles Cultural Center), April 7 at Boston Community Leadership Academy in Hyde Park Ryan Edwards,Masary Studios, Yo-El Cassell, and students from Boston Community Leadership Academy), May 20 at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan (Shaw Pong Liu and Sandeep Das), and June 10 at Lena Park Community Center in Dorchester (Ryan Edwards and Federator No. 1).