For our fellow Diasporans in the UK, you might be interested in checking this out. We got word that FELA! is coming to Sadler’s Wells for a few weeks (July 20 – Aug 28 to be exact). Here’s more information below:
Wednesday 20 July – Sunday 28 August 2011
Performances: Tue – Sun at 7.30pm, Sat & Sun mats at 2.30pm
Tickets: £15 – £50
Ticket Office: 0844 412 4300
“There should be dancing in the streets. There has never been anything like this.”
– New York Times
Sadler’s Wells’ summer show for 2011 is the Tony Award-winning Broadway dance musical FELA!. A provocative hybrid of dance, theatre and music, exploring the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, the production runs at Sadler’s Wells from 20 July to 28 August 2011.
Leading the cast is Olivier Award-nominated Sahr Ngaujah, who returns to the title role, having garnered acclaim for his portrayal of Kuti in New York and London. Featuring many of Fela Kuti’s most captivating songs and Bill T Jones’s visionary staging, FELA! reveals Kuti’s controversial life as an artist and political activist and celebrates his pioneering music.
Recognised as an icon in the international world of rock and roll, soul, jazz and hip-hop, Fela Kuti combined elements of traditional Yoruba, high life and jazz, giving rise to “Afrobeat”. Through his music he condemned military regimes in Nigeria. He was arrested more than 200 times and beaten savagely on many occasions. Despite this he continued to live in Nigeria and produced more than 70 albums during his career.
FELA! was choreographed, directed and co-written (with lyricist Jim Lewis) by Bill T. Jones, a leading light in American contemporary dance. Jones choreographed and performed worldwide as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982. The company last performed at Sadler’s Wells in 2004.
Jones’ awards include the 2007 Tony Award, the 2007 Obie Award and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Callaway Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening and the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven.
FELA! received its world premiere Off-Broadway in September 2008, where it won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, before transferring to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre in November 2009 where its accolades included three 2010 Tony Awards®, for Best Choreography, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Design, and an Astaire Award for Bill T. Jones’ choreography.
FELA! is directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, and music and lyrics by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel, the design and Tony Award winning costumes are by Marina Draghici, lighting design by Robert Wierzel and the Tony Award winning sound design by Robert Kaplowitz.
FELA! is produced in association with Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Mort Swinsky, Knitting Factory Entertainment and with Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson.
“The dancing is ecstatic, the music lifts the spirits and the stage is alive with movement”
– The Guardian
Additional Notes on Fela Kuti and Bill T Jones:
Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, north of Lagos in 1938. His father was a Christian schoolmaster, minister and master pianist and his mother was a world-recognised feminist leader, who was very active in the anti-colonial Nigerian women’s movement during the struggle for independence. Educated in Nigeria, and later in London where he studied music, Fela Kuti found his authentic musical voice adding elements of traditional Yoruba, high life and jazz, giving rise to “Afrobeat”. Through his music he condemned military regimes in Nigeria for their mismanagement, and marginalization of the underprivileged. He was subsequently constantly harassed, arrested more than 200 times and beaten savagely on many occasions. Despite this he continued to live in Nigeria and produced in excess of 70 albums of music during his career. He toured the United States and Europe with an entourage of 80 people to public and critical acclaim. He died in August 1997 at the age of 58 from an AIDS-related illness. In Nigeria one million people attended his funeral.
Bill T. Jones won the 2007 Tony Award, the 2007 Obie Award and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Callaway Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening. His many awards also include the 2007 USA Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship, the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven, the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the 2005 Wexner Prize, and the Aaron Davis Hall Harlem Renaissance Award. Before forming Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, Bill T. Jones choreographed and performed nationally and internationally worldwide as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane. Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company last appeared at Sadler’s Wells in June 2004.