CBT’s ‘Black & Beautiful Ballet’ pays tribute to African American dancers

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Olivia Mozie, a junior dance student at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, is one of two guest artists performing with CBT. Photo provided.

Carolina Ballet Theatre will present a free performance in honor of Black History Month on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Kroc Center to recognize African American dancers and choreographers who have shaped the dance landscape.

CBT artistic director Hernan Justo’s “Black & Beautiful Ballet: A Tribute to African American Dancers” will include special tributes to choreographers Alonzo King and Dwight Rhoden as well as prima ballerina, the late Raven Wilkinson.

“Art comes from all kinds of cultures,” Justo says. “Every segment of our society has a story to tell. Specifically, the contribution by the African American community to the art of dance is invaluable from the performing aspects, providing us with hundreds of magnificent dancers, and from the creative aspects, where several of the best choreographers in the world have African ascendancy.”

Two of the honorees have a connection to CBT.

“I have invited Alonzo King and Dwight Rhoden to work with CBT in the past,” Justo says. “I didn’t do it because they are African Americans – I invited them because they are two of America’s best choreographers today. Of course, when celebrating Black History Month, I immediately thought of honoring their works.”

Black & Beautiful opens with “My Dream,” a ballad of America’s soul, which spans all of the United States’ history, featuring African Americans who shaped our national identity while forging their own.

“This performance is important because we are a diverse population, and I believe it is important, now more then ever that all aspects of what we do, within the arts and beyond, should reflect that diversity,” says Megan Early, CBT board member. “This performance is just one of many ways the community can experience the impact that African Americans have had in a traditionally underrepresented genre of art.”

African American guest dancers for the performance are Juwan Alston, who is in his fourth season with Charlotte Ballet, and Olivia Mozie, a junior dance student at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

The event is free to the public with a suggested $10 donation at the door. For more information, visit carolinaballet.org.

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