By Walter Rutledge
The Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theatre will perform excerpts from On The Block an evening length ballet based on the mural The Block by celebrated African American artist Romare Bearden. The performance will that place on July 7th, 7:00pm at the Oberia Dempsey Center 127 W. 127th St. NY, NY 10027. The event is a fundraiser for ArtCrawl Harlem, which is joining the Romare Bearden Foundation in celebrating the centennial of the birth of the artist.
The one-hour presentation will consist of a video featuring Romare Bearden and an introduction by choreographer Walter Rutledge The performance of the Intimate Strangers sections of On The Block will be followed by a brief Q&A. The reception at the independent theater Maysles Cinema located at 343 Malcolm X Blvd will present a 14-minute short film on Bearden featuring The Block and excerpts from On The Block.
The Block is a six-panel mural, which is part of the modern art collection at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, immortalizes Lenox Avenue between 133 and 134 streets. The work combines elements of Bearden signature collage style, cubism and his unique use of perspective that was inspired by Cezanne. The perspective device is prominent in the work he called Interiors.
In the Interiors Bearden shows us both the exterior surroundings and the intimate details in individual dwellings. The result is powers…. yet introspective look into the lives of his subjects. In all of Bearden’s works he included images and arrangements of shapes that reached back to an African source, and The Block is no exception.
The ballet On The Block was presented as a work in progress in 2005 as part of the yearlong Bearden Celebration of the nationwide traveling retrospect exhibition. Both the mural and the dance work reflect Bearden’s love of inner city life, especially his beloved Harlem. The dance excerpt entitled Intimate Strangers is inspired by images found in the fifth panel of the mural.
In the panel we see a couple partially hidden behind a window shade peering out of the window in apartment 1A. The question becomes what are they finding? Above them another couple in Apartment 2A are making love. “When you live one wall, one ceiling, one floor away from people you become intimate strangers” explains choreographer Walter Rutledge. Joining Rutledge on stage will be original cast from apartment 1A Dudley Williams (dancer emeritus Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) Dyanne Harvey (Alvin Ailey and Forces of Nature Dance Company). Making her debut in the role as the women in apartment 2A will be Sarita Allen.
Tickets are $25 and there is a special young audience price of $10 (performance only). For more information about the performances call 212.866.7427 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos 1) 5th Panel The Block Romare Bearden 2) The entire collage The Block R. Bearden. 3) Dyanne Harvey photographer Hubert Williams
Video edit by Walter Rutledge