Books, ballet, and neon lights

The Weekly Roundup, January 26-February 2

4 minute read
Two Black dancers in reds tops, yellow leotards, looking to their left, one standing on their feet while carrying the other
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater comes to Philadelphia this weekend. (Photo by Andrew Eccles.)

This week comes with pairs and that was not my intention—trust me, I’m not that clever. But there’s something to that serendipity: there’s power in pairs, especially when they come with contrasts. Here, we see the historic Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater come to the city for a weekend of performances on the same weekend that Chocolate Ballerina Company reopens IMPACT—a program for young Black dancers. Then, the Neon Museum of Philadelphia and the Art Trust at Meridian Bank in West Chester host Neon Currents, a contemporary neon art exhibit. Then, Blue Stoop welcomes two authors with new titles: Jessamine Chan’s The School for Good Mothers and Daphne Palasi Andreades’s Brown Girls.

With Alvin Ailey and Chocolate Ballerina, it’s hopeful and inspiring seeing how a foundation was established and how far and impactful one performance can take a mission. These two novels offer perspectives that aren’t often represented in fiction. It’s also nice to see an exhibit offered in two different locations—there have been many events lately that I wish were closer to home or featured virtual alternatives. I can imagine what goes into hosting an exhibit in two locations or tailoring an exhibit or performance for online audiences. I know it’s challenging and expensive and often counterintuitive, but I’m hopeful that more experiences will give choices in how audiences can engage, and that resources will become more affordable, accessible, and available as we continue to navigate a pandemic and all the changes it’s bringing.

So here’s to learning about the past, the future, and accessibility!

The School for Good Mothers with Blue Stoop
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia
Thursday, January 27, 7:30pm

Our friends at Blue Stoop invite you to join a discussion with Jessamine Chan, the author of The School for Good Mothers (read our review). Liz Moore, bestselling author and creative writing professor at Temple University, will moderate the conversation. Books will be available for purchase at the library and a book signing will follow the presentation. Shout-outs to Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books for providing copies—be sure to pick one up yourself there if you are interested but may not be planning on attending the event.

Neon Currents
Neon Museum of Philadelphia, 1800 N. American Street
January 28-March 20, opening reception on Saturday, January 29, 1-4pm

The Art Trust at Meridian Bank, 16 W. Market Street, West Chester
Now through February 25, opening reception on Friday, January 28, 5-8:30pm

Contemporary works from eight regional neon artists converge at two different locations in this new exhibit. Featuring glass blowers, designers, mixed media, sculptures, large installations, and more, the exhibit promises to showcase the creative, inspiring, and innovative ways that neon is used beyond the traditional application of signage.

The Neon Museum’s website links to the artists’ works—I highly encourage you to check them all out!

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia
January 28-30

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater started off with one performance in March 1958 in New York City, and in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, made waves as a group of young, modern Black dancers. The company pays Philly a visit to the Academy of Music, courtesy of the Kimmel Cultural Campus, for a weekend of new and classic works. Keep an eye out for our review of the performance next week, too.

Making IMPACT with Chocolate Ballerina
Lonnie Young Recreation Center, 1100 E. Chelten Avenue, Philadelphia
Starting January 28, 6-7:30pm

Speaking of young, modern Black dancers, Chocolate Ballerina Company is on the rise here in Philadelphia. Coming off of last year’s first all-Black production of The Nutcracker, the company formed in 2017 continues to prepare and grow future Black dancers. Starting this Friday through June 3, Chocolate Ballerina is offering dance classes and dance leotards for performers 8-16 years old with the return of their IMPACT program. Folks interested can register by emailing directly [email protected]. There is a one-time registration fee of $40.

Celebrating Brown Girls with Daphne Palasi Andreades
Streaming online via Zoom
Tuesday, February 1, 7pm

In another Blue Stoop-hosted event, writer Daphne Palasi Andreades visits virtually to talk about her first novel Brown Girls. The new book “illustrates a collective portrait of childhood, adulthood, and beyond, and is a striking exploration of female friendship” and serves as a “powerful depiction of women of color attempting to forge their place in the world today.” The event will be moderated by Fajr Muhammad, a Philly-bred writer and editor. Grab a copy at Harriet’s Bookshop!

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