The Spirits Break to Freedom - Jazz Collaboration for the President's House on June 12th


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On Sunday, June 12th, at the Christ Church Neighborhood House at 20 N. American Street in Philadelphia, dancer/choreographer Germaine Ingram, composer/musician Bobby Zankel, and visual artist John Dowell will present the latest version of their ongoing creative collaboration commemorating the nine African Americans enslaved by President George Washington in the President's House, the first American “white house" that stood on a site just steps away from where the Liberty Bell is currently housed.

Two shows: 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20 are available online For Info: 215-517-8337. Seating is very limited.

This exciting and ongoing project, titled The Spirits Break to Freedom, involves an ensemble of 10 musicians, dancers and vocalists. Jazz tap/percussive dance, projected paintings and photography, and original instrumental music and song are the artists' tools for wrestling with the irony of human bondage practiced in Philadelphia, the “cradle of liberty, by the revered leader of a new nation founded on the promise of freedom.

This presentation will invite the audience to imagine the complexity of the feelings of the enslaved for their owners and through music, dance and art, will give voice to the identities, feelings and aspirations of the Nine, whose existence was buried and forgotten for centuries. These artists wrestle with slavery's enduring legacy and explore the power of tradition and culture to sustain hope and resist oppression. They confront the conflicting evidence of Washington's attitudes toward slavery and his own participation in an institution that defied the principles his office stood for.

Alto saxophonist Bobby Zankel's compositions have been described as a unique amalgam of the precision and rhythmic intricacy of be-bop, with the soul and drive of hard bop, and the fire, spirituality and intensity of the avant-garde. He has collaborated with such jazz notables as Cecil Taylor, Mudresh Mahanthappa, Marty Ehrlich, and Steve Coleman, as well as a variety of choreographers, writers and visual artists. In 1995 he received a prestigious Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Zankel is founder and director of an 11-piece band, the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, which can be heard on the Dreambox Media jazz label.

John Dowell, Professor of Printmaking at the Tyler School of Art of Temple University, has created and exhibited paintings, prints and photography for over four decades. He has had over 49 exhibitions, including the 35th Venice Biennale, the 1975 Whitney Biennial in New York City, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. His artwork is represented in the permanent collections of 70 museum and public collections.

Germaine Ingram carries on the legacy of her mentor and performance partner of 25 years, legendary tap dancer LaVaughn Robinson (1927-2008). She has collaborated with noted jazz composers/instrumentalists, including Dave Burrell, Tyrone Brown, and Odean Pope. She has received prestigious awards for her projects and the arc of her artistic work, including a 2010 Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

This project is supported with funding from the Pew Center for Arts and Humanities through Dance Advance and the Pew Fellowships in the Arts. The performances are presented in cooperation with Jazz Bridge, a 501C3 public charity dedicated to assisting professional jazz and blues musicians in crisis in the Greater Philadelphia Metro area.

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