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Lula Washington’s Harambee Suite Wins Three Standing Ovations at its Three-Day Kwanzaa Festival

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) school and company members completed three days of Kwanzaa concerts at its Dance Studio Theater on Crenshaw Boulevard before full house audiences that gave the shows standing ovations each and every night.

LWDT’s performers brought each audience to its feet nightly with their rousing Harambee Suite which comprised the entire second act and featured high energy dancing and African drumming that infectiously got the entire audience moving.

Dance writer Debra Levine praised the Harambee Suite African-ballet solo choreographed by Lula Washington and performed by Rachel McSween. Levine’s blog headline read: “Move Aside Sugar Plum Fairy, Enter the Kwanzaa Kween!”

Here is a link to Debra Levine’s Kwanzaa post. Debra Levine’s Kwanzaa 2013 article

Veteran LWDT dancer Michael Battle draw audience kudos for his performance of the “Middle Passage” solo from Lula Washington’s African Memories. This dance was a touching tribute to Nelson Mandela.

New on the program this year was a Brazilian work by Eliezar Rabello called Frevo, and a new chorus line tap / jazz work by Brittani Dixon called Central Avenued-New. Both were first half crowd pleasers on a program full of crowd pleasing work.

Kelley Norrington, a new staffer at LWDT, had never seen the Kwanzaa Festival before. She was blown away. This is how she described the experience.

“Adults dancing with kids makes you feel a sense of unity within the whole room. Drumming that will pull you out of your seats. Talented Children steal the show and your hearts. Each child comes out with a surprising level of talent.”

“Inspiring, touching, warm. Striking movements, graceful, powerful, sharp, beautiful. Completely and totally flawless,” Kelley wrote in her notes on the show.

She continued: “Just when you think it’s over they come back with more intensity and thrill, completely and totally captivating the audience. Filling the audience with a sense of joy, excitement, unity, love, soul, culture, and a renewed/new-found love of DANCE!”

Rachel McSween photo by E. Mesiyah McGinnis
Michael Battle photo by Earl Gibson III

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