Ronald K. Brown/Evidence Brings Powerful African-Influenced Dance Set to Music of Steve Wonder and Others

RONALD K. BROWN/EVIDENCE RETURNS TO WHITE BIRD WITH UPLIFTING, POWERFUL PROGRAM FEATURING BROWN’S UNIQUE MOVEMENT INSPIRED BY AFRICAN AND CUBAN DANCE,
SET TO MUSIC OF STEVIE WONDER AND ZAP MAMA

What: Ronald K. Brown / Evidence
Presented by: White Bird
When: Thursday – Saturday, April 6-8, 7:30 pm
Where: Newmark Theatre, Portland’5, 1111 SW Broadway, Portland, OR
Sponsors: Jim and Susan Winkler, Wells Fargo, Media Sponsor The Oregonian
Tickets: Starting at $26, available at whitebird.org and Portland’5 Box Office,
1111 SW Broadway (formerly PCPA) NO added fees.1-800-380-3516 (added fees apply).
Discounts available for groups/students and seniors.

White Bird is excited to bring award-winning choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his company Evidence to Portland’s Newmark Theatre, April 6-8, with three uplifting works,  set to scores ranging from Stevie Wonder to Belgian-Congolese singer Zap Mama.  In Brown’s words, “I hope that when people see the work, their spirits are lifted. I am interested in sharing perspectives through modern dance, theater and kinetic storytelling. I want my work to be evidence of these perspectives.” The New York Times’ Gia Kourlas has stated about Ronald K. Brown, “This is the rare choreographer who wants to make you get up and dance.”

Ronald K. Brown / Evidence is the third and final of three companies—also including Camille A Brown & Dancers (Oct. 2016) and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group (Nov. 2016) — that comprise White Bird’s special focus this season on Great African American Choreographers, combining performances with extensive community activities. White Bird is partnering with Portland writer and performer S. Renee Mitchell and dance teacher/performer Kemba Shannon to develop these community activities, which will include a workshop with Ronald K. Brown on Tuesday, April 4 at Polaris Dance, (1826 NE 18th Ave, Portland).   An extended moderated post-show discussion will take place after the Friday performance by Ronald K. Brown and his company.

The evening opener Why You Follow/Por Que Sigues was created for Malpaso Dance Company from Cuba, commissioned by The Joyce Theater, New York in 2014. (Note: Malpaso was presented by White Bird last May 2016 in its West Coast debut.) Why You Follow seamlessly fuses the techniques of Cuban and African dance while suggesting the presence of a higher power, a spiritual being, motivating and propelling the dancers. As the beats of the music build throughout the four sections, so does the energy of the dancers. The piece comes to an end as the dancers find themselves following one another into a large circle.

The second piece is an excerpt from Lessons: March (1995) set to a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that speaks to the value of a man. The movement embodies the spoken text, illustrating a physical story of perseverance, dignity, and collective strength and care-taking. The Evidence program culminates with the exhilarating On Earth Together set to the songs of Stevie Wonder and reflecting Ronald K.  Brown’s commitment to making the world a better place. The music of Stevie Wonder often speaks to the state of the world, asking questions of oneself and to society at large.

Evidence, A Dance Company was founded by Ronald K. Brown in 1985 and based in Brooklyn, New York. The company focuses on the fusion of African dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word and provides a unique view of human struggles, tragedies, and triumphs. Brown uses movement as a way to reinforce the importance of community in African American culture and to acquaint audiences with the beauty of African forms and rhythms. Evidence tours to some 30 communities in the United States annually. It has traveled to Cuba, Brazil, England, France, Greece, Hungary, Hawaii, Ireland, Holland, Mexico, Columbia, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, and in 2010 joined the U.S. State Department’s DanceMotion USA tour to perform, teach master classes and conduct demonstrations. Evidence brings arts, education and cultural/historical connections to communities that have historically lacked these experiences. Annually, the company reaches and audience of more than 30,000.

Ronald K. Brown (Founder/ Artistic Director) has worked with Mary Anthony Dance Theater, Jennifer Muller/The Works and other choreographers and artists.  Brown has set highly acclaimed works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II, as well as on Cleo Parker Robinson Ensemble, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Jennifer Muller/The Works, Jeune Ballet d’Afrique Noire, Ko-Thi Dance Company, Philadanco, Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago, Ballet Hispanico and MalPaso. He won an AUDELCO Award for his choreography in Regina Taylor’s award-winning play Crowns, received two Black Theater Alliance Awards, and a Fred & Adele Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography in the Tony Award winning Broadway and national touring production of The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, adapted by Suzan Lori Parks, arrangement by Diedre Murray & directed by Diane Paulus.

In addition Brown was named Def Dance Jam Workshop 2000 Mentor of the Year and has received the Doris Duke Artist Award, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Choreographers Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, and The Ailey Apex Award.

White Bird’s 19th season (2016-17) is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and the Arts Education & Access Fund; Work for Art; The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Ronni Lacroute/WillaKenzie Estate, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Starseed Foundation, and WESTAF.

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence Brings Powerful African-Influenced Dance Set to Music of Steve Wonder and Others