I have so much new work on my reel these days, for which I am oh so grateful, that when I was cleaning up my archives I came upon this video which I did many many years ago. I watched and laughed at how much fun it was. My heart smiled to remember all of the wonderful artist who made this work memorable. Especially the girl I married. I see the influence of Lester Wilson, Jaime Rogers, Debbie Allen and Gregory Hines in this work. And of course the great Eleo Pomare taught me singularly how to tell stories in dance. Thank you all. Turn up the volume and put it on full screen. Enjoy!
I had a very good time working at The Drury Lane Theater. I was there for 33 days choreographing South Pacific. I eat extremely healthy so that doesn't bode well for me when I am in a hotel. They accommodated me as best they could and was always extremely kind to me and my epicurean oddity. So there were some nights when I could not get out to a kitchen of choice and had to eat in the hotel. Of course, in time, the amount of salt and additives in the food took its toll and I would find my self up in the middle of the night.
So this one night late I simply went out and took pictures of still life. I am no photographer but I do like taking pictures. I simply wanted to share some of them with you.
Olivera, our costume designer, the only person in the pictures I took with my iphone. I tried to get her back to this location to shoot it properly but she got busy.
BEHIND THE DRURY LANE
This is the dance that was cut from the film. It was too modern dance. Bill Lee the composer of the music I thought did a wonderful job with it. This was a difficult work as there was not much time to shoot it. Perhaps a half a day and we ran into some complications along the way.
Hinton Battle was originally supposed to do it but decided not to. I'll tell you why in my memoirs not here. They both are beautiful dancers. Though the choreography seems dated to me you can still see and feel that these two artist are on their game. Robin Tasha Ford is at her finest and Greg Burge could do anything.
In retrospect I think I should have made it more metaphoric. Giving it more meaning to the whole. It just came out of nowhere. It was my first film. No excuses. Thank you Spike.
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Okay Everyone- This is serious Throwback Thursdays. This is deep from inside the Otis Archives. I cant believe that I have saved everything. What can I say. This is Debbie Allen and Norman Nixon dancing full out in the park. I believe if i remember correctly that she was pregnant at the time and very much in love. Good for them. I also think they still are. How special.
Please feel free to leave comment here . Would love to hear from you. Know your out there. Your thoughts.
I was in Omaha Nebraska and decided that we needed to look at a pop song differently . I had these wonderful young ladies of all different types in front of me and we all liked Maroon 5. I knew that they all had a story to tell so we just started singing it down . This is what transpired. Not bad for a first day of rehearsal. Wish I had the final performance.they were wonderful.
It has been good these past months to work in television. It's what I really know how to do. The cast is very talented and the day is hard but good. I don't think they know what I really do but that is okay I am happy to be there to share my talents and to make the day go well.
Sonie the young girl on the show is really talented and I think she is going to be a big star when she gets a little older. She can really dance and act. I am impressed. At first I thought the cast a little stand offish but I think it s because they don't know me and they have such a hard day and long hours. No time to frat with a crazy looking old black man. All in all it is a good show and the cast and crew and producer really know how to do it.
It moves extremely fast. So far I have choreographed swing to ballet to Tango. I have to say that I have had some tango training though I am no tango expert. One of the actors Juan Pablo who had some tango training helped me through it. Very nice man.
Dave one of the actors sent a iphone video to my daughter. She went nuts. (See below)
Coral Hawthorne (Line Producer) and Leslie Jackson-Houston (UPM) are two people that I have known forever. It was great to see them there after so many years. They looked whole and in their own skin. I crossed path with several cameramen and crew that I knew. That was great. Old home week. We reminisced, took pictures and laughed a lot.
The dancers that I cast in one of the episodes were outstanding, professional and lots of fun. Can not wait to work with them again. The food is good on set . Here's to catering. The costume people are amazing and it is aplace I am familiar with. I worked with the head costume person in Head Of The Class.
I had the opportunity to work with a first time director. He had no idea that I have directed dozens of these shows but I put my ego aside and decided simply to help him as much as I can. It was good. He was gracious and kind but I think that was his good upbringing. I liked him a lot and wish him the best.
Kimmie is the best actor/comedian that I have ever worked with and I have worked with a lot of them. She so gets it and is unafraid. A physical comedian who is not afraid to get her hands dirty. A true Lucille Ball. You will see this in the episode we did called The Nutcracker.
Television is hard, fast and immediate. I don't think you always have to bring all of your skills to it but you always have to hit the mark that is needed.
I got invited to the wrap party. Though I had only been there a short time it made me feel a part of the team. Very special Unfortunately I could not be there. Party on.
The episodes start airing in December. Mine are "Doggy Daddy Days" and "The Nutcracker". Please tune and see for yourself. Let me know what you think I hope they do well.
If you have any questions about shooting and choreographing television . Leave me a message I'll be happy to answer.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to direct and stage the show Color Purple in Los Angeles at the fabulous Wallis Annenberg Theater in Beverly Hills California. The show has a great heart and a great score. I had the opportunity to work with 6 wonderful singers who not only had a specoial singing talent and sound but were good people to work with. This is always a special gift because if I ever get a show that had a need for their type of talent I would certainly cast them in it.
So here I would like to introduce you to them as best I can in the hope you will run after them cause they can siiiiinnggg!
THE CAST OF HAIR IN LOS ANGELES
All I can say is that we had a good time. Wish you could have been there. It was amazing how this show resonates right now. Would love to mount it again.
MARCH 2, 2015
IN THE BEGINNING
I’ve come a long way to get to here. I’ve had had a big career in the entertainment business. I have worked hard and thrived long in every aspect of show business. However, I must say the thing that has always gotten me to where I’ve wanted to go was the dance. Many people think of me as a commercial artist but for the few who really know me know me as a concert dancer and choreographer. This is how I started.
My work as a concert modern dance choreographer has made a difference has always made a difference for me. Not always liked by the critics though here were always filled houses and standing ovations. But I have come to realize that I wasn’t talking to the critics. My work had a way of speaking to the common man. That's not to say that I haven't gotten rave reviews by many periodicals.
I had an opportunity to leave the country and to travel to France and Germany to see a lot of international dance. The Apollo Theater had a grant to let one of their artists have an artistic exchange with various dance artists around the world. And so I traveled. I was able to meet Akram Khan, Aakash Odero, William Forsythe, the company Black Grace out of New Zealand and I saw Boxe Boxe by Compagnie Kafig. As well I looked and watched every kind of dance that I could online. Became very familiar with companies and choreographers in the United States and abroad. What a wonderful time. I learned a lot about the contemporary dance world. Thank you Apollo Theater and Mikki Sheppard.
Presently something has come over me where I feel the need to choreograph for the dance world again. I am a bit anxious but my wife says that I am always anxious before doing a new idea or project. This spirit that leads me to the dance is important because it will sustain me in difficult times when I am working on a new piece. I am going to have to figure out how I put such a big project together. Costumes, lighting, idea, music, rehearsal space, stage manager, ballet master, money to pay for all of this etc. etc.
This is truly a journey. Starting from scratch, building a team that would like to help me move this dance journey forward. There are lots of decisions to make. I hope that you will join me on this journey as I chronicle how I get from the page to the stage.
If you have any questions about the business of choreography that I can answer please feel free to ask me here. I will answer all of them.