Dimensions Dance Theater, a preeminent African-American dance company in the Bay Area, is holding the world premiere of “The Town on Notice,” a performance that combines dance, live music, spoken word and stand-up comedy.
The Town takes on the subject of Oakland’s gentrification as an invitation for meaningful dialogue.
Conceived and directed by Deborah Vaughan with choreography by Latanya d. Tigner and Colette Eloi, The Town features composer and pianist JooWan Kim, poet Marvin K. White, comedian Micia Mosely and percussionists Kiazi Malonga and Guy DeChalus.
The Town runs for one night only, Saturday, Oct.17 at 8 p.m. at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts at 1428 Alice St. in Oakland. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door and may be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets.
“Gentrification is one of those hot-button issues,” says Vaughan, co-founder and artistic director of Dimensions Dance Theater.
“In creating The Town my approach has been to observe and reflect without offering pat prescriptions. From beginning to end, the evening is designed as an invitation for the audience to share and interact, to create a meaningful dialogue,” she said.
Vaughan invited Tigner, who has performed professionally with Dimensions since 1986, and who has choreographed several recent works in the company’s repertory, to lend her artistic voice to The Town.
“Through purposefully blending traditional African, house, jazz and modern dance idioms, I have been inspired to create movement with ritual force that will call forth the ancestors of this place we call home,” says Tigner.
She said that the recent displacement of many Oakland residents on account of gentrification is only the latest episode within a long history of displacement that stretches back to the arrival of the first European colonists.
In addition to choreographing, Tigner will dance with the company.
First among the evening’s three featured performers is Korean-born, Oakland-based composer Kim, founder of Ensemble Mik Nawooj, “one of the Bay Area’s most innovative hip-hop acts” (SF Weekly).
The group is known for its trademark blend of classical, jazz and hip-hop styles. A graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Kim will perform an original score for piano, accompanied by Malonga and DeChalus on percussion.
The Town on Notice will also integrate spoken word performed by White. In addition to authoring four collections of poetry, including two Lambda Literary Award-nominated books, White is pursuing a Master of Divinity at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.
He is also a former member of the critically acclaimed PomoAfroHomos. The Town marks White’s second collaboration with Dimensions Dance Theater.
The third featured performer of the evening is Mosely, the rare stand-up comedian with a doctorate. She completed her studies in education at the University of California-Berkeley, and now alternates between performance gigs and consulting jobs at schools and foundations.
Her solo show “Where My Girls At?” has toured the U.S. at numerous comedy clubs and universities. Mosely currently divides her time between Oakland and New York City.
Bookending The Town will be a 1970s-style “rent party” with an open bar in the lobby serving wine and beer. The party will run from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m., resuming with the company and guest artists in attendance at 9:30pm. Throughout the evening a live Twitter feed will project comments from attendees and performers alike.
Funding for the development of The Town on Notice was made possible by generous gifts from the San Francisco Foundation, the Oakland Cultural Funding Program and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
To purchase tickets visit brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006. For more information visit dimensionsdance.org