Black Men’s Stories, By Peter London Global Dance Company with commentary from Terrence Pride
Upon the backs of our ancestors we journey forward, as the light and fire they held for us expands into a greater present and still greater future.
We must not let them down! Remember the tremendous brutality of mind, body, and spirit, they endured, that which still continues.
Honor and cherish them, hold them close in your heart, daily prayer, and in all that you do.
Stand strong and determined in the ship they built for us with their broken bones, torn flesh, muzzled voices, endless tears and their faith in the spirit of the Divine One, so that we may reach our shore of freedom of which they sacrificed for us.
– Peter Bedeau London
PLGDC prohibits the reproduction, recording, or duplication of any of the material presented in this video. All rights reserved. Please visit plgdc.org for more information regarding the company.
Commentary by Terrence Pride
Motivation. Reclamation of vocalization. Enunciations. Resuscitation. Primal dialectic invocation. Extrication of euro-domestication. Feet syncopate equatorial expatriation.
Black boys are raised to think that they are beyond artistic value, that value we give to glorified art we gaze upon with admiration and high esteem. We must ask: what is the currency used to wager the value of the black body and the narrative of black men? Growing up in the small country town of Quincy, FL, dancing was never expressed as an art form but as an expression of celebration – an artifact of black existence and longevity that glorifies the black body and the spirit of being. Dance has given agency to the humanity of black people and the strength of black men. In the world as we know it today, black male dancers are not only a rare species in the dance world, but they are also ridiculed for practicing dance techniques. Shadows of emasculation and the horrors of acceptance in white dominated spaces.
Pale paint to bake off in response. Rotation of vibrating emancipation, incantation, summoning ancestral spectral visitation. That romantic audio visual meditation. Our drums. Our primeval palpitation. Our jobs. Our historical formation. Our stomp, our clap, our gesticulation.
The performance of Black Men Stories at the Adrienne Arsht Center, in 2019, brought about a renewed sense of self-worth and self-concept. I saw myself dancing to my own reflection, being amongst other black men from various backgrounds and levels of artistic training in dance, sharing feelings of brotherhood and solidarity. In that moment, we were not defined by the standards of society or the industry which divides us, by levels of technique, body stature, appearance, or our trauma of being black in America. Nor were we the token black boys in a company of white frail dancers, highlighting all the things we represent to them – privilege, the dream, white fragility. We were united in the kinship as well as in spirit.
Shutting down any melodic capitulation and toning our rebel ballot of protestation. Spirit songs in crypto-propagation. Our music. Our dance. Our political stance. We rise up, yeah. We rise up.
We celebrated the stories of our forefathers, black men who led rebellions, fostered scholarly societies, and instituted change for black communities. From the African coast to the Caribbean, all the men of the diaspora danced with us, communed with us, as one body. Sweat pouring from brow to brow like libations to Ogun. Together we were beyond artistic value, and our humanity came out! All of ourselves came out! Our femininity, our brokenness, the mask we wear day to day, all came off and smiles came out. As we danced, we wrote passages of love letters and long lost goodbyes with our footprints. Backs arched, greeting memories from past to present, reminiscing on the journey of how we got here! Jumping, leaping, scattering from note to note with postscripts of black agency and unity. Together, the currency of Black Men Stories was the blood of our ancestors, the spirit of hope for liberation and justice. To be all of ourselves, even if for just that night!
Terrence Pride: Terrence “TM” Pride is a native of Quincy, Florida and a graduate of Florida A&M University in theater performance and dance. He has choreographed over 60 pieces of work, including musicals and dance recitals. A man of many talents; director, choreographer, dancer, costume designer, and teacher. Terrence can be seen on the stage or behind the camera; Rialto Theatre’s American Black Princess, HBO’s LoveCraft Country are two of his most recent productions. His career as a professional teaching artist began in 2012, as the director of the arts program for 21st Century Fun2Learn Camp for four years in Gadsden County. He continued his teaching at the Joan Kroc Atlanta Theater Camp, Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, FL and the Ailey Camp Miami at the Adrienne Arsht Center. From 2017 to 2019, Mr. Pride served as the director of the dance and theater magnet program at Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School of the Arts in Tallahassee, FL. Terrence curated Definitive Arts: Arts Integrated Education, lessons for the classroom teacher that infuses common core with fun and energetic elements of drama and dance! He currently teaches theatre and dance in Miami, FL and dances professionally with the Peter London Global Dance Company. As a scholar and advocate for cultural and arts education, Terrence received his Master of Education in Urban Education from Florida International University as well as a graduate certificate in Africa & African Diaspora Studies. He aspires to create safe and nurturing spaces for arts and cultural exploration and representation through theater and dance. During the time of COVID-19, while enduring the events of racial injustice, Terrence turned to art. After losing his job as Associate Director of the historic Seminole Theatre in South Miami, he began to put his frustration and rage in the form of dance. Creating protest videos for social media and thus launching an even bigger series, Black Men Stories! For more visit: TerrencePride.com.
Peter London: A native of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Peter London is the Founder, Artistic Director and Choreographer of The Peter London Global Dance Company, (PLGDC, Inc.) founded in 2011. PLGDC, Inc. is a 2011 $120.000.00 Knight Foundation Challenge Grant Winner. Regarded by The Miami Herald as “a revered and beloved dance teacher,” London is an honors graduate of The Julliard School and serves as a distinguished professor of dance at Miami-Dade College / New World School of the Arts. He was Barataria Dance Group’s award-winning director, dancer, and choreographer, and as one of Trinidad & Tobago’s leading dance company from 1979-1983, representing the government as cultural ambassador to Dallas 1977 International Trade Fair, CARIFESTA 1979 in Cuba and CARIBANA in Toronto, Canada. As a principal dancer (1978-1983) of the Astor Johnson Repertory Dance Theatre of Trinidad & Tobago, he performed locally for six seasons and toured the United States and Haiti. As a principal dancer of the prestigious Martha Graham Dance Company, London worked closely with the legendary Martha Graham who created the role of the “Shaman” for him in her 1988 ballet ” Night Chant”, and recreated roles for him in her ballets American Document and El Penitent which he danced with Michael Baryshnikov at New York’s City Center Theater. London’s principal roles included The Shaman in the “Rite of Spring”, Paris in “Clytemnestra”, The Man In White in “Diversion of Angels”, the Chief Male Celebrant in “Acts of Light”, Tiresias in “Night Journey” and The Snake in “Circe” among others. London danced in the Graham company City Center Theater 1992 season in Twyla Tharp’s world premiere of “Demeter & Persephone” and Robert Wilson’s 1993″ Snow on the Mesa “. He is a faculty member at the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance and performed worldwide with the Graham company from 1988- 1997, including nine seasons at New York City’s City Center Theater and at the Herod Atticus Odeon at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, Israel, Brazil, Canada, Thailand, Singapore, Hungary, Prague, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, the Pompeii amphitheater, Italy, L’Opera Garnier de Paris, Shinjuku Bunka Center, Tokyo, Japan, where he can be seen on film in the latter two performances and at the Het Music Theater in Amsterdam, Holland. He has performed at the Kennedy Center Honors, and for President Gerald. R. and First Lady Bette Ford and the Crown Prince of Japan. From 2007, London has served as Graham’s Senior Artistic Associate for tours to Colombia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. In 2017, he served as rehearsal director for Graham’s production of “Diversion of Angels” for the Rome Opera Ballet, Italy, and as a two time judge ( 2011-2012) for the Seoul, Korea’s International Modern Dance Competition and performances at City Center Theater and The JOYCE Theater in New York City. In 2012, London completed a choreographic research with South Korea’s National Modern Dance Company. As a member of the Jose Limon Dance Company, London performed at the 1987 American Dance Festival, The JOYCE Theater, Mexico, Uruguay, and Teatro Colon in Argentina. From 1979 to present, London has created over fifty choreographic works based on African dance retention in the Caribbean and contemporary dance fusion of modern, classical and Afro Diaspora dance techniques. London recently commissioned original scores from composer Ezra Haugabrooks for his 2019 production of “Black Men Stories” and 2020 “WOMEN ROSES WATER” premiered at the Adrienne Arsht Center. London was a 1983 recipient of a special scholarship by Alvin Ailey and was an AILEY Summer Intensive Faculty member and Choreographer from 1997-2010. He is also an active mentor to some of the biggest stars in professional dance such as principal dancer Jamar Roberts of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Lloyd Knight and Mariya Dashkina Maddux, principal dancers of the historic Martha Graham Dance Company, and La Michael Leonard of New York City’s Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company. London is a 2012 Jewish American Committee Honoree, and the recipient of numerous awards including a 2012-ICABA , 2014-Legacy Magazine, 2013-Southern District of the Links Incorporated Civic Arts Award, 2019-Trinidad & Tobago Independence Ball Committee, 2019- International Voices of Hope (IVOH).
The Peter London Global Dance Company: The Peter London Global Dance Company celebrates and shares the rich and diverse cultural heritage with people of all ages, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds, while increasing awareness of our cultural similarities, global dance and music traditions. Our vision is to create unparalleled dance opportunities for South Florida dancers and choreographers and showcase their talent to the world. Celebrating 10 Years as Miami’s leading multicultural, contemporary dance company! The Peter London Global Dance Company (PLGDC) is a recipient of a $120,000 grant as part of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s 2011 Knight Arts Challenge. This grant was awarded to Peter London to develop the talents of local dancers and choreographers, and in his eighth year leading PLGDC, he has made great strides. The company, an Artist in residence at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex (LHCC) since 2011, an Arts Partner at the Adrienne Arsht Center of the Performing Arts, Miami-Dade County since 2013, and a member of the prestigious Salon at The Betsy Hotel on Miami Beach, has blazed a lightning speed trail to critical acclaim, becoming South Florida’s leading professional multi-cultural contemporary dance company. PLGDC has presented dynamic and exciting cutting-edge modern dance works influenced by American classical modern dance, classical ballet, jazz, native American dance, South American, Caribbean, West African and Caribbean Dance forms. “Few things bring people together like the arts, and we’re excited that Peter London is creating a place for more Miamians to enjoy the talents of local dancers,” said Dennis Scholl, Former Vice President/Arts, James L. Knight Foundation. The Company was formed to offer an opportunity to train and retain the talent representative of the area’s multicultural heritage. “South Florida has been losing its talented dancers to out-of-state companies,” said Peter London.” As a former student of Peter London, I can say, without doubt, that he is a great teacher, coach, and mentor,” said Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “He is truly a great asset and treasure to the world of dance.” Peter London Global Dance Company’s numerous past performances have awed audiences with overwhelming joy by the high level of dance and choreographic excellence. Our magnificent dancers and divinely creative choreographers, all of whom are blazing their own trail as current or former members of international prestigious dance companies including the Martha Graham Dance Company, Dance Theater of Harlem, Geneva Ballet in Switzerland, Ballet Hispanico, AILEY II and Paul Taylor Dance Company. PLGDC fulfills a lifelong dream for Mr. London, currently a distinguished professor of dance at Miami Dade College/New World School of the Arts. Several of Peter London’s former students reached the pinnacle of modern dance, but left South Florida for performance experience and recognition, including:
Mr. Battle, Lloyd Knight, principal dancer — Martha Graham Dance Company Vitolio Jeune — Garth Fagan Dance Company Jamar Roberts — AILEY
The Knight Foundation’s grant along with a generous gift from the late Victoria London, Honorary Consul of Romania (establishing the Victoria London annual Choreographers Showcase) provided a significant advantage during the early phase of the organization’s development, helping to widen the platform so that the community at large can enjoy more of the excellent dance training from Peter London’s innovative choreography and of his former students. As the company stands on years of creative outrageous risks, PLGDC is looking to progress and push the envelope for future maximum theatrical excitement.
Suggested Citation: Peter London Global Dance Company and Pride, T. 20 July 2021. “Black Men’s Stories.” AGITATE Now!: https://agitatejournal.org/black-mens-stories/.