National dance troupe to hone show in Lafayette

Dance company to hone James Brown show in Lafayette

A dance performance showcasing the lasting influence of James Brown will be honed in Lafayette before a national tour that begins with a premiere at New York’s Apollo Theater, officials with the city and the Apollo Theater announced Tuesday.

A group of choreographers, dancers and production workers will travel to Lafayette in October for 10 days to prepare for the premiere and national tour.

The Apollo was interested in Louisiana because of entertainment tax credits available for live performances that launch in the state, and Lafayette was chosen based in part on the community and the warm reception given to Apollo officials, Apollo Executive Producer Mikki Shepard said.

“I found it to be such a creative and entrepreneurial community; and let me say, the food wasn’t bad,” Shepard said.

She spoke from New York via Internet video feed for a news conference Tuesday to announce the partnership for the production of “James Brown: Get on the Good Foot — A Celebration in Dance.”

The show brings together artistic director Otis Sallid, six choreographers and the Philadelphia Dance Company to explore the cultural impact of Brown’s music and dance style.

Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel said the project will bring valuable national exposure for the local arts and culture scene.

“The Apollo brings such credibility to what we are trying to do in Lafayette,” he said.

The Apollo team will give two performances of the show in October at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette. One is set Oct. 16 for students and the second is Oct. 17 for the general public.

The choreographers and dancers will also host a series of workshops here, offering locals invaluable access to dance professional with national experience, said Jacqueline Lyle, who has long been active in the local arts scene and has worked to coordinate the Apollo partnership.

“We have opened doors for everyone to everything,” she said.

Shepard said a dance show highlighting James Brown seemed a natural for the Apollo, where the “Godfather of Soul” gave more than 200 performances.

“There isn’t a place on the planet where his influence doesn’t reach, and we’re proud to say it can be traced back to Harlem and with this new production at the Apollo we are helping to keep his spirit alive,” Shepard said in a written statement about the production.