Dance

Ignite Theatre company is one of nine groups to take up residence in .ZACK
Provided by Ignite Theater Company

Nine young arts groups will find a home this fall at .ZACK, the new performing arts incubator.

Created by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, the space aims to foster collaborations among the St. Louis performing artists. Its inaugural class will include dance companies, theater troupes and youth outreach initiatives.

Detail of Katherine Dunham in Choros, undated
Missouri History Museum | Provided

Before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, before Freedom Riders headed to segregated bus stations, before Martin Luther King Jr. led his first march, there was Katherine Dunham.

The dancer and choreographer stood up to discrimination as far back as 1944. She railed against a system in which hotels wouldn’t book her and theaters wouldn’t let her black and white fans sit together, according to Washington University professor Joanna Dee Das. Das has written a book about the legendary artist and activist who lived in East St. Louis off and on starting in the mid'60s. The book, “Katherine Dunham:  Dance and the African Diaspora,” is set for release early next year.

Ashely Tate dances between two of her students in preparation for "Dance to Vote."
Nancy Fowler / St. Louis Public Radio

Dancers are helping people get a leg up on voting this Saturday afternoon in University City.

An outdoor performance in front of Vintage Vinyl is designed to encourage passers-by to register and cast their ballots in the Aug. 2 Missouri primary. Three dance companies will alternate voting-related performances from 2-5 p.m.  Four spoken word artists will also participate.

UMSL students Qianling Ye, Charis Railey, Robbie Wade, John Hood, Lalitha Jilakara and Tony Marr perform with their classmates during the dress rehearsal for their spring concert.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend is the last time those studying dance at the University of Missouri-St. Louis will put on a performance.

After this semester both UMSL dance professor Ronderrick Mitchell and the students who want to make dance into a career will be gone.

Michael Uthoff, second from left, talks with students, along with Dance St. Louis’ Janet Brown. (Brown is in the middle on the right-hand side of the photo).
Dance St. Louis

Dance St. Louis is under new leadership as it winds down its 50th season, after executive and artistic director Michael Uthoff announced he's leaving after 10 years.

"I’m 72 and I figure I need some time to smell the roses," Uthoff said.

Dance instructor and Afriky Lolo dance company founder Diádié Bathily
Diádié Bathily

As an African-dance instructor in St. Louis for nearly two decades, Diádié Bathily is immersed in African culture. At the same time, he longs to experience it — up close. Now, thanks to a recent grant, Bathily can return to his home continent to soak up creative energy. Bathily is one of 10 people each receiving $20,000 fellowships from the Regional Arts Commission in 2015 (see full list here and below).

Big Muddy Dance Company

A lot of things have changed in the past five years for Big Muddy Dance Company, but one thing has not: the dedication of the group’s original core members, most of whom are still performing with the company. That’s pretty inspiring, mostly because the group has completely changed the tone and tenor of its dance style over that period of time.

Elizabeth Herring leads the girls in St. Louis' Juvenile Dention Center through the five ballet positions.
Nancy Fowler / St. Louis Public Radio

What does a dancer and former debutante born in 1926 have in common with teenagers at St. Louis’ juvenile detention center?

A lot, as it turns out, according to Elizabeth “Bunny” Herring.

Herring, 89, sees striking similarities between herself and the young women in the ballet classes she teaches inside the locked facility, as part of the Prison Performing Arts (PPA) program.

Ben Hejkal Photography; Courtesy of the Nevermore Jazz Ball and St. Louis Swing Dance Festival

You can get a day’s worth of live music and dancing on Cherokee Street on Saturday - all for free.

Dances of India

November 13 will mark the 38th season opening night for St. Louis-based Dances of India, the first classical Indian dance company to be established in Missouri. President Nartana Premachandra and Artistic Co-Director Theckla Mehta joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the organization and their 2015-2016 season.

St. Louis Dancers Step-Up co-founder Keith Williams works with performers for Dance Speaks Volume I.
Sara Burke

For more than a year, St. Louis dance professionals have worked to create a performance responding to the death of Michael Brown.

On Friday at 7 p.m., the public can see the result of their efforts at Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive St., in Grand Center. “Dance Speaks Volume I" is presented by St. Louis Dancers Step-Up, in cooperation with the Grand Center Arts Academy Theatre Department.

Carmellena Blockton (black pants) and Diva Sweat Girls
Ambee's Photography

In March, Carmellena Blockton set out to provide an outlet for young girls in St. Louis to develop social skills, learn physical fitness and to increase self-confidence. Straying away from the traditional mentoring program, she chose a different approach and created a hip-hop inspired majorette dance team entitled “Diva Sweat Girls.”

Diva Sweat originally began in 2013 as an adult dance class. As time went on, Blockton noticed a need in her community and decided to take action.

Used with permission

On June 16, Cortango Orquesta, will host an album release concert for the release of their first album, Tandas. Founded by Cally Banham, the six-member band Cortango describes itself as a “dance band performing tango music with a symphonic twist.”

“I started the group with the intent of creating an ideal experience for social dancing,” Banham said. “We started by playing more traditional, steady tangos. [Now], we like to present some pieces that are concert-like in nature and also play for dancers.”

This photo of St. Louis' Big Red Burlecamp was taken in St. Charles in 1963. Big Red is in the center, with guitar.
Reedy Press

When Kenneth Johnson was a young boy growing up in rural Missouri in the 1940s, his bedtime routine included music. But the sounds that lured this youngster into dreamland were the live performances of dance-hall musicians.

Lydia Berry, number 100, in orange leotard
The Muny

Ever thought about trying out for America's oldest, largest outdoor theater?

Each year, the 98-year-old St. Louis Muny holds open auditions; anyone can come. Singers and dancers try out on different weekends.

From Left, Frank Schwaiger, Nancy Fowler, Willis Ryder Arnold, Bruno David and Leslie Laskey
Donna Korando | St. Louis Public Radio

This week, St. Louis Public Radio debuts its first arts podcast,"Cut & Paste."

We invite local visual and performing artists to tell stories. Who inspires them? What are their successes? Where have they stumbled along the way? Sometimes, in the conversation, it's us doing the stumbling! But we always have fun. We hope you will, too.

Courtesy of The Big Muddy Dance Company

Ballet may be one of the last things you’d expect to see at a rock venue, but it will happen next weekend.

The Big Muddy Dance Company will perform at The Pageant on Jan. 30 — a first for both.

Kirven, right, and Antonio Douthit-Boyd
Andrew Eccles

Antonio Douthit-Boyd “stumbled upon dance” in St. Louis. Kirven Douthit-Boyd was “forced into it, really” in Boston. The pair, now principal dancers with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York, is moving to St. Louis to become the Center of Creative Arts’ artistic directors of dance.

Antonio Douthit-Boyd
Jacob Blickenstaff Photography

For dancer Antonio Douthit-Boyd, the time has come to return the favor.

At 16, the beat of a drum lured him off the street and into a Washington Avenue dance class, where he was soon taken in as a disadvantaged prodigy. It changed his life.

Now, he and his dancer husband, Kirven Douthit-Boyd, are coming home to instruct and nurture a new generation.

“I hope that Kirven and I can do for other students what they did for me,” Antonio Douthit-Boyd said.

The Saint Louis Ballet's 'Nutcracker' features the professional company and students from the St. Louis Ballet School.
Saint Louis Ballet

“The Nutcracker” has become a holiday tradition, and is performed by countless ballet companies around the world.

“‘Nutracker,’ for ballet companies, is kind of our Super Bowl,” said Saint Louis Ballet dancer Stephen Lawrence, who plays the Cavalier in the company’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

Leverne Backstrom at the Katherine Dunham Museum
St. Louis Public Radio File Photo

An East St. Louis museum dedicated to a renowned activist and dancer faces an uncertain future.

The museum honoring the late Katherine Dunham owes $7,000 in back property taxes. A delinquent tax sale is set for Nov. 10 in the hopes that someone will pay the bill as an investment.

When Dunham died in 2006, the dancer and activist apparently willed the museum to her assistant, as well as the organization. The assistant has since died, but her heir now has an interest.

(Courtesy: Matt Menietti)

On the third Wednesday of every month there’s a unique gathering in St. Louis during the lunch hour. Dozens of people gather for Lunch Beat St. Louis to dance, eat and get away from their normal routine.

Andrew Warshauer is the organizer of Lunch Beat St. Louis, which he started last June.

“I like to say it’s a chance to slip away from the every day,” said Warshauer.

Lunch Beat started in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010 and has spread to more than a dozen cities worldwide.

MADCO dancers rehearsing Liquid Roads
Steve Truesdell

The Whitaker Rehearsal Hall at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri St. Louis campus was filled last week with a sense of anticipation, excitement -- and a healthy dose of underlying tension.

Dancers from the Modern American Dance Company (MADCO) stretched and warmed up as choreographer Gina Patterson, MADCO Executive Director Stacy West, members of the production team, musicians for the performance and invited members of the media waited for the first complete run through of the company’s production of “Liquid Roads.”

sxc.hu | Gwenniejjj

Lithe and assured, Amanda McKerrow dances with students in the Principia College studio with the same ethereal grace and authenticity that characterized her celebrated career as a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.

One of the things that makes watching her special is that she has not performed on stage since 2006, although earlier videos of McKerrow’s exquisite artistry can be viewed online. This weekend, however, she will perform in an original piece, “Found,” choreographed by her husband John Gardner, also a former ABT soloist.

Courtesy of Hettie Barnhill

Of the dancers who performed as part of the Muny Chorus in 1962, only one of them had their own security guard.

Rashad Rounds
Provided by Mr. Rounds | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Rashad Rounds grew up Olivette and graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School in 2001. Shortly after that, he launched himself into the LA dance scene. During his time there, Rounds -- who uses the name Wizdom Truth -- danced for Usher, on “Dancing With the Stars” and worked with major choreographers. But finding his way from St. Louis to Los Angeles wasn’t easy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Like many artists, dancer Antonio Douthit hears a different drummer. But the drumbeat that changed his life at 16 wasn’t in his head. It wafted from a window on Washington Avenue.

Dilip Vashwanat

The St. Louis Symphony continues its 2011-2012 season this weekend, and you can be right there with them from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 19.

On select Saturday evenings, St. Louis Public Radio broadcasts the Symphony's performance over the air, bringing you a live classical music experience wherever you are.

This is what's in store for you this Saturday:

Photo of the Week

Nov 21, 2011
M.C. Bishop / Via Flickr

Photo taken by M.C. Bishop on Flickr.com of the Raas team during Washington University's celebration of Diwali.

Join the St. Louis Public Radio Flickr group to see interesting photos taken in the St. Louis region and submit your own. Each week we feature, on our website, one outstanding photo from the group.