When you hear the name James Brown you think: “Please, Please, Please;” “Sex Machine; Hot Pants;” “It’s a Man’s World;” “Say It Loud, I’m Black & I’m Proud;” “I Feel Good; Super Bad;” “Cold Sweat;” “Make It Funky;” “Got the Feelin’;” “Get on the Good Foot” and on and on. You think soul, funk, rhythmic grunts, sighs that express feelings that you understand, but can’t be defined in any other way, nu-language and DANCE. James Brown danced the mashed potatoes, the slop, the camel walk, the moonwalk, The James Brown! He was in title and in fact “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business! The Godfather of Soul!”
The Apollo Theatre’s production of “James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, A Celebration in Dance” is just that, a celebration of James Brown, his music and the dance he brought us. “Get on the Good Foot” is non-stop James Brown. The world premiere of this brilliant work was held on Oct. 22, 2013 at the world famous Apollo Theatre with additional performances on Oct. 25 and 26.
Collaboration, yes! A text book example of what collaboration is and what it can yield. Otis Salid is the creator and artistic director of the work. The company the work is mounted on is the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO), and its artistic director and choreographer is Joan Myers Brown. The choreographers for the work are: Otis Salid, Souleymane Badolo, Thang Dao, Aakash Odedra, Abdel Salaam, Camille A. Brown and Ronald K. Brown. The Executive Producer is Mikki Shepard. That is a lot of artistic power and talent, all blended to create and produce a beautiful work of art, energy and history. Kudos to all mentioned and not mentioned, including the dancers. There are oh, so many, too many to name who contributed and collaborated to make this masterpiece, “James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, A Celebration in Dance.”
Not only is Get on the Good Foot a program of dance and music, but also two-panel discussions, Live Wire contributed to this package. The JB Ultimate Roundtable convened by bassist, Christian McBride with James Brown alumni: Alfred ”Pee Wee” Ellis, legendary saxophonist, former musical director of the James Brown Orchestra from 1966-1969 and co-writer of hits: “Cold Sweat,” “Mother Popcorn” and “Say It Loud-I’m Black and I’m Proud,” Alan Leeds, co-author of “The James Brown Reader” and former road/tour manager for James Brown from 1969-1974, Danny Ray, Emcee and “Cape Man” for James Brown from 1964-2006, Fred Thomas, bassist for JB from1971-1982 and 1991-2006, Robert “Mousey” Thompson, drummer with JB from 1993-2006, Harry Weinger, NYU professor and producer of the Grammy-winning James Brown box set “Star Time.” As you can imagine and expect. they dropped some “gems.”
The other panel discussion: Live Wire; Anatomy of Funk included: Otis Salid, creator, artistic director and a choreographers of Get on the Good Foot, along with most of the other choreographers: Souleymane Badolo, Burkina Faso; Thang Dao, Vietnam; Aakash Odera, United Kingdom; Derick K. Grant, United States; Ronald K. Brown, United States; Abdel Salaam, United States, rehearsal director, Dyane Harvey and moderator, Baraka Sele. Both panels were interpreted for the hearing impaired.
“James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, A Celebration in Dance” is a production with legs, no pun intended, is going on tour to several cities in the United Stated, but as choreographer, Souleymane Badolo said during his presentation at, The Anatomy of Funk panel, and I paraphrase, “This production should tour Africa as well. James Brown is known and celebrated worldwide and this production should tour the world, every continent: Africa, Asia, Europe, South, Central and North America as well as Australia where I’m sure it will find a welcome and a grateful audience.”
© Amun/Ankhra House, Ltd.