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Memorial for Jean Léon Destiné at 92nd Street Y

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Jean Léon Destiné Spider Dance

A memorial is being held for Jean Léon Destiné, master Haitian dancer, choreographer and drummer, who passed on January 22, 2013. This will be at the 92nd Street Y on January 24, 2014, during their program Fridays at Noon: The Legacy of Jean-Léon Destiné. An earlier memorial was held on June 15, 2013, Life Celebration of Jean-Léon Destiné at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

For the 92nd Street Y Fridays at Noon program Julio Jean, renowned master Haitian dance teacher and choreographer will reprise Jean-Léon Destiné’s Spider Dance. To do this, Julio Jean came to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division to look at a version of the Spider Dance as danced by Jacques Barbot of Destiné Afro-Haitian Dance Company. This program was recorded by the Dance Division on December 3, 1995, the 4 p.m. show, by Penny Ward. This video can be seen only at the Library, but if you come here you can see the video from its catalog record.

Julio Jean at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

While Julio Jean watched the video monitor and recorded the dance in his body, I recorded him on his cell phone so he could watch the dance moves later. Seeing a video in the Dance Division’s collection used to keep the dances of Jean-Léon Destiné alive was a special pleasure for those of us at the Dance Division whose lives are dedicated to preserving dance for the future generations. I was particularly honored to participate in this process. 

Carolyn Webb

Another performer at The 92nd Street Y memorial will be dancer and teacher Carolyn Webb, who will dance one of Destine's oldest signature pieces, Baptism of the Drum. 

Carolyn Webb

The work was reconstructed by Edward (Ajaibo) Walrond former company member and assistant to Mr. Destine since 1959.

I plan to be at this memorial and have my ticket. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

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