A MOTHER’S RITE is a ballet set to Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring composition, and will explore one mother’s journey through stages of grief after being thrust into the spotlight by way of her son’s racially-motivated murder.
2:00pm Welcome and film screenings of A Mother’s Rite and Mothers of the Revolution
2:30pm Letters of Love writing workshop
3:00pm – 4:30pm Preview performance of A Mother’s Rite danced by Courtney Celeste Spears and Q&A with The Black Iris Project’s Artistic Director and Choreographer Jeremy McQueen.
4:30pm – 6:00pm Tea on the Terrace reception with guest chefs Henry Obispo, Director of Bornjuice and Clifford Hunt II, Proprietor of Culinary Cliff, LLC.
JEREMY McQUEEN (Artistic Director & Choreographer of The Black Iris Project), is an award-winning emerging choreographer, dedicated to story-telling rooted in experience and social engagement. His work aims to create spaces of comfort, solace, and connection through reflection—a sharing of observations of what is going on around him.
Born and raised in San Diego, California, McQueen is a graduate of The Ailey School/Fordham University, B.F.A. in dance program. At the age of eight McQueen saw a production of The Phantom of the Opera and was immediately drawn to the arts. That same year he began studying music and theater. At the age of 11 he started his training in dance at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. McQueen has also trained as a scholarship recipient in the schools of American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet. McQueen was a 2013 recipient of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago’s Choreographers of Color Award and two-time finalist of the Capezio Award for Choreographic Excellence. His work has appeared at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, SummerStage in Central Park, Jacob’s Pillow Dance’s Inside/Out series, Dancers Responding to AIDS’ Fire Island Dance Festival, and more.
As a performer, McQueen appeared in the Broadway national tours of Wicked and The Color Purplein addition to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and Metropolitan Opera’s productions of Die Fledermaus, Aida, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and Don Giovanni. McQueen cites two influential instructors as a source for his work and creative energy, Donald Robinson and Kazuko Hirabayashi. From Mr. Robinson, McQueen learned his guiding principle of discipline, doing what you know you’re supposed to do even when no one is there to make sure you do it. At a time when McQueen was in a struggle trying to make his way as a dancer, Ms. Hirabayashi told him to choreograph about it. It is in the craft of story- telling and making a way for yourself through discipline and focus that McQueen was led to start The Black Iris Project, a creation of space for other like-minded artists to reflect their experiences.
COURTNEY CELESTE SPEARS (Baltimore, MD), who is of Bahamian descent, graduated from the Baltimore School for the Arts under the direction of Norma Pera and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Ailey/Fordham BFA in Dance Program with a degree in Communications and Media Studies.
She has attended summer programs at Cedar Lake 360, The Juilliard School, and American Ballet Theater where she was recognized consecutively for two years as The American Ballet Theater National Training Scholar. As a former member with Ailey 2, junior company of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ms. Spears has performed and taught all throughout the US, Europe, Caribbean, and most recently Asia where she taught Horton in Tokyo, Japan for a month at the Hinton Battle Dance Academy. Ms. Spears has performed and worked with choreographers such as Jae Man Joo, Matthew Rushing, Igal Perry, Bridget Moore, and Ray Mercer. She has been featured in publications such as VOGUE, SELF, and ALLURE Magazine, performed Alvin Ailey's masterpiece "Revelations" on Good Morning America, and had the opportunity to perform for former President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany at the 2015 Hanover Messe. After being recognized as a 2015 Princess Grace Award Winner for her growing potential as an artist, Ms. Spears founded her own company, ArtSea Dance, which is a Caribbean based company that provides workshops for local dancers taught by world class professionals and also functions as a small management company that provides world class dancers to high-end Caribbean
Founded in 2016 THE BLACK IRIS PROJECT is a ballet collaborative and education vehicle creating relevant classical works that celebrate diversity and Black history. Based in New York City, the Black Iris Project hosts a team of more than 30 predominantly Black artists capable of delivering cross-discipline and wholly original works. The collaborative aims to harness the Black community’s inherent creative spirit to encourage and inspire youth of color to pursue art, movement, and music as an expressive outlet and a means for collective healing.
The Black Iris Project is all parts people, places, and experiences while following a trajectory of joy,education, family, trials, and disappointments. All are invited to join the movement. www.blackirisproject.org