Mayor of Harlem: Invoice ‘Bojangles’ Robinson Faucet Dance


Disclosure: Dance Dispatches acquired complimentary digital admission to put in writing an open and trustworthy assessment of the Faucet Household Reunion manufacturing, The Mayor of Harlem.

The Joyce Theater Basis in Chelsea (NYC) has been offering a house to revolutionary dance since 1982, and this week offers an actual delight to elevate the spirits of pandemic-weary faucet lovers like me, as they’ve moved their annual Faucet Household Reunion on-line. Faucet legends Dormeshia, Derrick Okay. Grant and Jason Samuels Smith honour Nationwide Faucet Dance Day, birthday of the style’s founding father Invoice ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, with an exhilarating tribute to his legacy.

The dancers in The Mayor of Harlem carry out in entrance of a historic scene.
Photograph credit score: Christopher Duggan

Invoice ‘Bojangles’ Robinson

Born in Richmond; Virginia in 1878, Robinson rose from dancing for pennies on the market by way of vaudeville and Broadway to Hollywood, changing into essentially the most outstanding black entertainer of his age. His lighter, raised-heel dance model revolutionized faucet; and his contributions to the native black neighborhood earned him the honorary title ‘Mayor of Harlem,’ from which this present will get its title.

And, since we’re on the the topic of Harlem, it’s not simply residence to faucet dance.
Dance Theatre of Harlem, who produced Creole Giselle, additionally lives right here.

The Mayor of Harlem Evaluation

Robinson himself is performed by Maurice Chestnut, and with an ensemble forged of six treats us to a portrayal of 4 elements of his life: The Hustler, The Star, The Sacrifice, and The Activist, informed in a vibrant mix of music, dance, and soliloquy, in partnership with a savvy jazz quartet. I notably loved the easy but revolutionary staging, that creatively used color, visuals and costuming in concord to take us from scene to scene. 

The sounds of faucet themselves had been woven seamlessly into the surroundings and storytelling from the start, recreating the rhythms of steam trains and racing horses, as we’re taken from the streets of Robinson’s youth to New York Metropolis and stardom. (It was definitely no accident that the prepare footage chosen to painting this journey featured a Pullman carriage, whose porters performed a pivotal function within the civil rights motion by forming the primary all-black union in 1925). 

 “[The] 4 elements of his life: The Hustler, The Star, The Sacrifice, and The Activist, [are] informed in a vibrant mix of music, dance, and soliloquy, in partnership with a savvy jazz quartet.”

Dancers Phillip Attmor and Christina Carminucci carry out within the Faucet Household Reunion.
Photograph credit score: Christopher Duggan

From right here this gifted and numerous ensemble present us the thrills of jazz-age golf equipment and theatres, the highs of Hollywood glory and lonely lows of his private ordeals. The fourth act reaches an exhilarating peak, as city dance kinds and costumes are mixed with stark visible imagery of the civil rights motion and pulsating poly-rhythms to mirror the continued wrestle of racism. After reaching a determined apex, our dancers falter, till Robinson reappears as a ghost-like inspirational determine, movingly empowering them to rise as soon as extra.

For a second I craved extra context to hyperlink the completely different phases of the story and extra indication of the hardships encountered alongside Robinson’s journey. However, on reflection, I’m wondering if that maybe isn’t the purpose. This can be a more true reflection of what artists of color nonetheless expertise in the present day, displaying up evening after evening to carry out the emotional labour of entertaining us and brightening our lives, no matter how bleak their very own scenario outdoors the theatre could also be… And, in the long run, the manufacturing is a really becoming tribute to the spirit of Bojangles.

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The choreography mirrored the game-changing nature of Robinson’s method, abandoning the heavier flat-footed methodology together with his arrival in NYC and remaining on the toes for the remainder of the faucet, whereas his iconic stair dance was given trustworthy remedy, and the rhythms and shapes of hip hop had been later included to convey his ongoing relevance. I totally loved this concise and regarded homage to an enormous of the style, and the real love and respect for his legacy held by all concerned was palpable.

The way to View Faucet Household Reunion’s The Mayor of Harlem

The Mayor of Harlem was commissioned, partly, with the help of The Joyce Theater Basis’s Stephen and Cathy Weinroth Fund for New Work; and you may stream it On Demand till June 3 at 11:59pm EDT for $25 USD (per family).

Chances are you’ll buy tickets right here: .

All data appropriate and updated at time of publication.



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