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Black Dance at the Schomburg: The Black Iris Project

Schomburg Communications Intern Kiani Ned kicks off part one of the Schomburg Center's new Black Dance blog series with a look at The Black Iris Project and its primary research sources available at the Schomburg: 

“I wanted to create more opportunities like this one for collaboration, reflection, connection and the creation of dynamic works of art that address the black experience or black history. We wanted to develop works of art that our communities would specifically find interesting and would want to see them performed,” says Jeremy McQueen when asked by The Huffington Post about the origins of The Black Iris Project. McQueen, choreographer and winner of 2013 Choreographers of Color Prize, founded The Black Iris Project this year.

On July 14 at the Schomburg, The Black Iris Project will perform Madiba—a dance piece based on the life and legacy of humanitarian and anti-apartheid activist, Nelson “Madiba” Mandela. The performance is set to an original score by black classical composer Carman Moore.

The Black Iris Project utilizes MADIBA as a tool for community engagement and education. In conjunction with a live performance of MADIBA, The Black Iris Project sparks engaging dialogue about the history of South African apartheid and tutorials on the steps from MADIBA. Together, the program helps students learn to forge community through “collaborative storytelling.” At its heart, The Black Iris Project aims to empower and inspire young folks of color to explore the music, movement, and art as a means of self-expression and collective communal healing.

Watch a video of The Black Iris Project performing MADIBA: A new ballet by Jeremy McQueen.

Want to know more about, ever-expanding and ever-inspiring, black dance in the US and abroad? The Schomburg Center  houses an expansive collection of resources.

Stay tuned for part two in the Schomburg's Black Dance blog series, and check out some other resources below!

Find images of black dancers and dance styles throughout history in the Photographs and Prints Division:

And these collections chronicling the history of black dance in the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division:

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