DISRUPTIVE ARTISTS

Singer Rhonda Ross and pianist Rodney Kendrick will perform first stateside concert together in 15 years on Feb. 14 at the Harlem Stage performing arts theater.
Amber Johnson

A new season is in session.

The Harlem Stage performing arts theater has announced its lineup for their spring season, which started on Jan. 16 and kicked off with “Ella! A Centennial Celebration.” The new season has several shows and even some free forthcoming performances and workshops. The theme for this year is: disrupt — honoring the artists who took risks in their careers and left behind stellar legacies. The country’s current climate is displaying a disruption, making it an apt time said director of programming.

“I looked at artists who were a catalyst for change because the times we are living in, whether its people from the president’s administration or about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — there’s a lot of polarizing energy,” said Monique Martin.

She said the theater wants to honor the work of these pioneers and their progressive stances.

“We want to be an inspiration and to be celebratory, and look at artists willing to take a risk because we are looking forward, not back,” added Martin.

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, there will be a free musical and visual performance act celebrating his legacy. The show reflects on his life as a civil rights leader.

“We are doing this with the intent of looking at this moment in time and how his legacy was created, and how he ascended,” she said.

Other free events include a theater show, “La Canción: The Musical” on Feb. 2. Then on March 26 there will be a workshop for aspirating musicians and music students for a one on one class on the Stretch Music App. The class will be led by composer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. From May 2-5, there will be a four-day jazz event, one featuring Lonnie Smith. And the final free event of the year set for June 9 will be a screening and discussion of the film and series “A Luv Tale.”

Martin said she curated these programs to foster strong community relationships with the theater. She said even other events that are not free, such as a dance party are low-priced and affordable to allow people to be interested and interact in a party-like atmosphere without the typical bar or club setting.

“The party is going to be embracing the dapper and elegant form and swing dance,” said Martin. “We are looking at the dance floor as a sacred space because there’s a power in people coming together to dance. Other parties can be more about drinking, but people will be uplifted.”

Harlem Stage [150 Convent Ave. between W. 133rd and W. 135th streets in Harlem, (212) 281-9240, www.harlemstage.org]. Events at various dates and times.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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