Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre (NBT) presented the world premiere of 125th & FREEdom on June 8. Created, written and choreographed by Ebony Noelle Golden, 125th & FREEdom is a five-hour, immersive public performance dance piece that is part dance party, part parade, part protest and ritual performance, and all Harlem.
Exploring the question, “If Harriet Tubman were alive today, how would she free Black people?” the program transforms Harlem’s iconic corridor into a stage with performances along 125th Street from the East River to the Hudson River.
Composed of 16 movements and featuring a New Orleans-style brass band, the choreopoetic performance takes place at 11 sites as pop-up installations along the world famous street. An immersive, audience-participatory cultural experience, 125th & FREEdom sees a victorious, but battle-weary tribe of nomads led by Tubman’s descendant on an epic journey to a land of promised liberation.
Fusing song and poetry with choreography based on historic and current Black social dances, the one-of-a-kind event closes out NBT’s milestone golden anniversary season.
The cast includes Audrey Hailes, Courtney Cook, Azusa “Sheshe” Dance, Alec Stephens III and Jason O’Neal. Paris Weeden, Ariel Blackwood, Ava McCoy, Everton Ricketts, Zenni Reach, and Trevor Latez Hayes are also featured.
The creative team includes Alphonso Horne (musical composition), Izmir Ickbal (scenic design), Dominique Fawn Hill (costumes), Belynda Hardin (props), Jaimé Dzandu (associate choreographer), Nina Angela Mercer (dramaturg) and Vir-Amicus and Kirrin Tubo (production managers).
Performances of 125th & FREEdom run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays through June 29. Participants are advised to wear comfortable shoes.
To keep up with 125th & FREEdom performances, follow the hashtag #125thandFreedom and visit www.natio
Ebony Noelle Golden is an artist, scholar and culture strategist from Houston, now living and working in Harlem. She stages site-specific rituals and live art performances that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now.
Golden serves as the founding CEO and principal engagement strategist at Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, a NYC-based culture consultancy and arts accelerator, working globally (betty