Showing posts from September, 2019

Ayodele Casel and Arturo O'Farrill

September 27, 2019 Many artists, particularly of the solo variety, project, to varying degrees of subtlety, the will to stand out. Ayodele Casel very tangibly doesn’t. Instead, she educates us of the rich lineage of female tappers of color, at which she is currently the forefront. This generosity is not the sort with which one embarks on a career, however; it comes from an active, humbling realization along the way that one is never alone. “There was only ever room for one,” Casel explains within her recent collaboration with Latin jazz ambassador Arturo O’Farrill, to tell how she journeyed from her Ginger Rogers-obsessed teens through NYU’s drama department to becoming a sultan of tap dance. At tap jams, she discovered a connection between the conversational side of tap with the communicative capabilities of African drumming, and began researching and reaching out to tappers who were not only female, but looked like her, too, whose legacies may have been overlooked, lost to tim

American Moor

September 16, 2019 As audience enters,  American Moor’s  playwright and primary performer Keith Hamilton Cobb spends a good deal of time pensively pacing his Wilson Chin-designed set – a sparse collection of chairs and two Corinthian columns, the one of which not tasked with holding a griffin conveniently toppled to the ground. Against the bricks bordering Cherry Lane Theater’s playing space, the mise en scene emits a fluid sense of backstage, onstage, and elsewhere, able to contain the manipulations of presence necessary for Cobb to illustrate his relationship to the notion of playing Shakespeare's Othello. You don’t expect it from the intensity of his pre-show or the size of his biceps, but Cobb is an effortlessly convincing shape-shifter. He must be as he tasks himself to morph between his younger self, his acting teachers, some fleeting blips of Shakespeare, and his own reflection of the black vernacular he grew up in. It is as his present self, however, that Cobb demonstra


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