The Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) celebrates Kwanzaa with an exuberant concert filled with dance, music and song, including a special appearance by vocalist Abraham McDonald and percussionist Marcus L. Miller. The show features both professional dancers and an ensemble of young dance students who will embody the holiday spirit bringing joy and wonder to all.
It was McDonald whose sensational singing talent won him a quarter of a million dollars on Oprah Winfrey’s Karaoke Challenge back in 2009, as well as a recording contract with Island Def Jam. After the release of his first single “Miracle”, McDonald has continued to perform at a variety of venues, and this month just released his latest single “Love You” (available on iTunes).
Featured in the dance concert is Lula Washington’s own Harambee Suite, a collection of works performed to the captivating rhythms of an array of African drummers. In addition, another illuminating compilation comes to life when performers sing and dance to Quincy Jones’ version of Handel’s Messiah; Jones’ 1992 Grammy-winning rendition combines gospel, jazz, reggae and hip-hop styles. In keeping with the positivity of Kwanzaa, the dance “Taratibu” emphasizes messages for youth that are optimistic, constructive and inspiring.
LWDT was founded in 1980 by Lula and Erwin Washington in a section of South Los Angeles, with the intention of bringing dance and cultural opportunities closer to inner-city residents. Since then, the Los Angeles-based repertoire dance ensemble has performed across the country and around the world.
Friday’s performance will have its own special guests including blues singer Barbara Morrison and jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington. As a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators who served during World War II, Lula Washington will present “For Those Who Live and Die For Us.”
2011 marks the 45th Anniversary of Kwanzaa, a weeklong African-American holiday that focuses on family, community and culture. Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor and Chair of Africana Studies at California State University-Long Beach, created the holiday, as well as, the Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles), the philosophical core of Kwanzaa.
(Lula Washington Dance Theatre’s 2011 Kwanzaa Concert will be presented Thursday, December 29 and Friday, December 30 at 7:00 pm, at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles 90016. For ticket information call the box office at (323) 292-5852.)