Playarts: Cultivating Creativity in our Community

Featured Project: Music and Dance at Parkside Plaza with Davalois Fearon Dance

Davalois Fearon in rehearsal for Finding Herstory – Photo by Anya Kress

PLG Arts (Prospect Lefferts Gardens Arts), in collaboration with Davalois Fearon Dance (DFD), presents Music and Dance at Parkside Plaza, an outdoor, block party-style event that celebrates the rich Caribbean heritage of Flatbush/ Prospect-Lefferts Gardens (PLG) and the growing community of local artists. The free performance will take place on October 17th at 2 pm at Parkside Plaza, located at Parkside Ave and Ocean Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226. The event will feature live drumming by Ryan Greenidge, Agyei Phillip, and Rasaan Green, and the music of composer and woodwind player Mike McGinnis, Dancehall, and Reggae facilitated by D.J. Ayanna Heaven, and a site-specific performance of Finding Herstory and community dance-along led by Davalois Fearon, the founder and artistic director of Davalois Fearon Dance Company. In addition, she shares with Art Spiel her reflections on this public project.

Mike McGinnisandDavalois Fearonin Time to Talk – Photo by Richard Termine

Tell me about the genesis of this project.

Music and Dance at Parkside Plaza was born out of a conversation I had with PLG Arts Co-President Hollis Headrick. My husband and I have a music and dance due called DavaMike, which PLG Arts presented in 2018. Hollis approached us last year about collaborating on a new project. After many brainstorming sessions, we finally came up with the idea to have a music and dance event centered around celebrating Caribbean culture and my latest work Finding Herstory, commissioned by Stephen Petronio Company.

I was inspired to make Finding Herstory because I was interested in developing a new work in relation to my Time to Talk solo project. Time to Talk deals with the exclusion of African Americans; the current work aims to make the invisible visible by tracing contemporary dance forms to their African Diasporic roots. I wanted to develop a piece that physicalizes my Afro-Caribbean dance history and pays homage to various dance forms that have contributed to the American dance landscape and helped shape me as an artist. Finding Herstory looks at how cross-cultural movements, mainly stemming from the African diaspora, played and continue to play a role in the development of contemporary dance and celebrates the forms that helped build American dance, often without acknowledgment or credit.

Davalois Fearon in Consider Water – Photo by Argenis Appolinario

What will we see?

Music and Dance at Parkside Plaza will begin with a site-specific solo performance of Finding Herstory. The solo begins with a post-modern ballet-infused “gymnastic and natural” choreography and my husband playing clarinet alongside a water soundscape. It then proceeds to a ritualistic repetitive solo that sets the stage for a Kumina, Doundounba, and Congolese-inspired solo performance. Finally, the event will culminate in a dancehall community dance where the audience members are invited to journey through time with me and dance the evolution of Dancehall from Ska to Reggae to Dancehall from 1940 to the present day.

Davalois Fearon and Agyei Phillip in Finding Herstory – Photo by Danion Lewis

Davalois Fearon, a 2017 Bessie awardee and a 2021-22 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow finalist, is a critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer, and educator. Born in Jamaica and raised in the Bronx, her choreography is said to embody a “tenacious virtuosity” honed over 12 years with the Stephen Petronio Company (2005–2017) and is now reflected in her work as founder and director of Davalois Fearon Dance (DFD). Established in 2016, DFD pushes artistic and social boundaries to highlight injustice and inequality and spark vital conversations about change. Fearon’s work has been presented nationally and internationally, including at New York City venues such as the Joyce Theatre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among many others, she has completed commissions for the Bronx Museum of the Arts and Barnard College. Her abundant honors and awards include DanceNYC’s Dance Advancement Fund Award and grants from the MAP Fund and the Howard Gilman Foundation.

October 17th at 2 pm Parkside Plaza at the intersection of Parkside Ave and Ocean Ave Brooklyn, NY 11225 PLG Arts-sponsored events are FREE and open to the public Subway: Q or B subway Parkside