For many, when you mention the Apollo Theater you think shows, icons and amateur night. However this African American owned and operated New York City landmark is doing much more than shows. Instead it is continuing to document and bring awareness (for many who travel the world to visit this notorious landmark) the multitude of accomplishments African Americans not only have contributed but continue to contribute to American culture and society as a whole globally.
Just recently, the Apollo Theater was the location for the farewell tribute to Phife Dog a member of one of hip hop’s greatest and legendary group’s; A Tribe Called Quest. More recently, the Apollo Theater was where people gathered to pay Tribute to the legendary musician Prince. The list of celebrity attendees for Phife’s tribute read like a who’s who in hip hop. Everyone from KRS-1, Andre 3000, BlackRob and Kayne West to Angela Winbush (who did an amazing performance of Angel) was in the building.
As if that was not enough just last month in recognition of Women’s Month, the Apollo Theater did an amazing free installation of powerful panels to highlight the incessant contributions and accomplished women of color have contributed to a plethora of industries. The career panel I attended highlighted women of color who contributed to the art of dance, not only as performers and choreographers but also administrators. The later being an extremely powerful and challenging position for anyone; especially a woman of color. Presented by Apollo Theater Education Program in collaboration with the organization Woman of Color in the Arts (WOCA) the panel comprised of; Ann Glass (Dance Theater of Harlem), Heather McCartney (The Joyce Theater), Denise Saunders -Thompson (International Association of Blacks in Dance) and Tiffany Rea-Fisher (Elisa Monte Dance) These ladies spoke candidly and honestly on what goes on behind the scenes of the dance industry. Moderated by Michele Baer (Dance NYC) the conversation moved with ease. They spoke about the challenges. How each of them achieved their status. What were some of the sacrifices and advice they implore others who aspire to obtain their level of professionalism and success must adhere. What was refreshingly interesting was each of their approach to the same challenge. It not only showed the diversity of approaches but also the complexity due to the corporate DNA of the company and board of directors they were administering. The most enlightened component of the evening was the ability to speak with the women afterwards and receive the support and outreach necessary to advance within the industry. Speaking with the coordinators they mentioned that the purpose of the career panel was not only information but true empowerment. That was exactly the word I would use to describe the night. It made me upset that I had to miss the next panel that comprised of the Mothers of Invention. Live Wire looked at the blues and gospel origins of Rock and Roll and the ground breaking female icons and innovators at its heart. They had Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Big Mama Thornton speaking on the hidden influences in American Pop culture and the hidden herstories of black female contributions, identity and cultural appropriation.
For more information on The Apollo Theater and The Apollo Theater Education Program go to their website www.apolloTheater.org or just keep it here… Floss Magazine! If you can’t floss… why bother! PEACE!