Muntu Dance Theatre plans for 40th anniversary series

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Choreographers, dancers, drummers, seamstresses, makeup artists, set designers and more from Muntu Dance Theatre are in final count-down mode for this year’s annual concert series which will launch the kick-off of the company’s 40th anniversar

Choreographers, dancers, drummers, seamstresses, makeup artists, set designers and more from Muntu Dance Theatre are in final count-down mode for this year’s annual concert series which will launch the kick-off of the company’s 40th anniversary of providing continuous authentic African programming that has entertained and educated audiences here in “Chi-Town” as well as around the globe. 

Spice It Up: The Flash & Fire of Muntu is the theme of the exciting performance featuring the world premiere of Roff, a collaborative effort of Amaniyea Payne, artistic director, and Idy Ciss, assistant director and Black Theater Alliance Award nominee. Also included: SHOUTing Rings, choreographed by Reggie Wilson, and an audience favorite, Suite Nina, a Nina Simone tribute choreographed by Diedre Dawkins and Kwame Opare.

Performances will be staged at DuSable Museum, 57th and Cottage Grove, Dec. 1 and Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m. The Alyo Award – named for Muntu’s founder – will be presented to the Collins/King Family during the Dec. 2 gala, which starts at 6 p.m. with dinner, silent auction, and then the 8 p.m. concert. City of Chicago Commissioner Michelle Boone is honorary host with support from JP Morgan Chase, the 2011 season sponsor.

Additional sponsor support comes via Kraft Foods, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois, Urban Partnership Bank, The Collins/King Family and PNC Bank. The program is also funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Ill. Arts Council and Chicago’s Dept. of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. Call Muntu at (773) 241-6086 for special discount ducats.

Time to Celebrate! – Spencer Leak Jr., third generation dynamo/vice president in the family’s multiple funeral home businesses, hosts “It’s Real: The Party of the Year” celebrating his b’day come Thanksgiving Sat., 9 p.m.-3 a.m., in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 151 E. Wacker Dr. Ladies who arrive before 11 p.m. will be offered complimentary admission along with valet parking. Hip Hop and House Music will be provided by DJ Pharris and Sean Mac. Also on the party’s agenda: a raffle drawing including a couple of ipods and a 50-inch deluxe flat screen television. Wow!

In Honor of Ida B. – The life, times and legacy of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, (1862-1931), a legendary African American journalist, newspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement, documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish Blacks who competed with whites.

Barnett was active in the women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement, establishing several notable women’s organizations. She was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician who traveled internationally on lecture tours.

 Next year, in 2012, celebrating the 150th year of her birth, renowned artist and sculptor Richard Hunt has been commissioned by the Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee to create a monument in her memory to be placed in Bronzeville on 37th and Langley.

Newsy Names – Pre-order “The Dreamer/The Believer” now! The highly anticipated new album from Hip-Hop legend Common is currently available for exclusive digital pre-order on iTunes with an instant download of “Sweet!” The new project is set to drop Dec. 20 and includes appearances by John Legend, Nas and an original poem from Maya Angelou! … The Carter Russells (she’s the pretty attorney; he’s the Carter Russell Music guru) treated a number of their very special friends to the musical “Memphis” on Tuesday evening at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Oh, what a night! … Happy b’day to Spencer Leak Jr., Jacqueline Todd, Edna Lucille Brown, Kelly Wilson, Darlene Hayes, Kevin Neilsen Givens, Archie Listenbee, Mattie Ree Eiland, Bryan Johnson, Roz Varon, Denise Campbell, Lauren Williams Gore, Runako Jahi, Marta A. Bailey, Peggy Austin, Johnetta Towns, Valerie Hill, Marv Dyson, Ebony Tillman, Tricie Allen and Darnell Glover … Friends of Commissioner Larry Rogers Jr. host an Evening of Cocktails & Hors d’Oeuvres for their favorite Democratic candidate for Commissioner in the Third District on Dec. 6, 5 p.m. at the Rosebud Restaurant, 70 W. Madison. For more information call (312) 462-4220.

Pitchin’ In! – New York Yankee pitcher, CC Saabatia and his wife, Amber, joined Athletes Against Druge on Monday for a special “Evening with Amber and CC Sabathia” at The Metropolitan Club on the 67th floor of Willis Towers – sponsored by American Airlines, Conrad Hilton and the Metropolitan Club.

CC says he understands the value of giving back to his community and the importance of organzations such as AAD, which was founded by Stedman Graham, chair/CEO of S. Graham & Associates. As a child, the Yankee pitcher would go to the Boys & Girls Club of Jallejo, Calif. after school and he credits the orgaization in being a fundamental part of his success.

The Sabathias co-founded their non-profit group, “PitCCH in Foundation” that allowss them to continue their passion of giving back while enriching the lives of inner city youth. “My parents taught me at an early age that humility and taking a leadership role seriously is important. I’ve taken that to heart and try to live my life in a way that kids can look up and learn from me and that other adults can appreciate,” said Sabathia.

 AAD’ss unrelenting focus is to improve the lives of youth throughout Chicago and other major cities by instructing them on how to build health and wellness, sports camps and events with keynote speakers and athletes.

Graham has a lifelong commitment to youth and community; he has authored 10 books including two New Your Times best sellers. As a businessman and educator, he lectures and conducts seminars for businesses and organizations around the country.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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