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Debbie Allen’s Passion Manifests in National Tour of ‘Brothers of the Knight’

Legendary dancer, choreographer, producer, director gives young dancers unprecedented opportunity while championing arts education in public schools

 
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PRLog - May 28, 2014 - HOLLYWOOD -- She’s an artistic tour de force from the dance floor to the director’s chair. She’s won a Tony, a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Debbie Allen’s latest project speaks directly to her passion: bringing hope to young people and speaking out for the importance of arts education in public schools.

Allen has just wrapped a five-city audition tour to find key talent from across the country to perform in the stage production Brothers of the Knight.  According to Allen, “it’s one of the most dynamic productions I’ve ever done.”

Brothers of the Knight originally opened at the Kennedy Center, where Allen is an artist in residence, and was brought on for several encore productions to a standing-room only crowd.  It’s a story she adapted from The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

When Allen decided to take the show on the road, she wanted each of city on the tour to be able to call the show their own. That’s why she held exhaustive auditions in Boston, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Her keen eye for talent has led Ms. Allen to discover some names you might be familiar with: Jada Pinkett-Smith, Gary Dourdan, Jasmine Guy and Corbin Bleu.  She was responsible for giving Emmy Award winner Mia Michaels her first job choreographing for television and has also choreographed world tours for Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey.

“I have a huge body of work that is really oriented for family theater and to give young people opportunity,” Allen states.

Twenty-five talented young dancers selected from Boston, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. will travel to Los Angeles to be trained by and work closely with Allen during the production. It’s a chance that many of these young dancers might not have had under other circumstances.

“I opened this audition to kids who are not just in dance schools,” Allen said. “But to those who simply love to dance.

The show in Boston will feature Boston youth – in Charlotte, young dancers from the Carolinas will be featured. Brothers of the Knight truly brings the show back to the community. It directly supports the local youth in their hometown.

During auditions for Brothers of the Knight and now, Allen is an outspoken champion of arts education.  “It’s a battle right now. Arts education is disappearing without a trace from the public schools. If you don’t have arts as part of the core of your curriculum, you are not being well educated,” she recently told Callie Crosley at WGBH Boston.

“Creativity is what has kept America number one around the world. Steve Jobs left his math class to take a dance class. We have got to find a way to offer this opportunity to our young people. I’m hoping that this Brothers of the Knight production will highlight why there needs to be more arts education in schools.”

A large local ensemble has been cast which will be trained by Allen in each tour city.  By featuring the local youth at each venue, this production helps spread that message at a local level in a profound way.

According to Allen, her artistic projects are inspired by her curiosity. “I really want to find different things to discover – and I’m not afraid to fail.  I keep moving,” she says.

Because of that, Allen says she “become[s] a good icon for young people when they look at themselves and try to figure out ‘what am I going to do?’ I look at them and say ‘you might do all kinds of things.’”

Brothers of the Knight will be a family affair for Allen.  Allen’s husband Norman Nixon, two-time NBA all-star, is Executive Producing and the production will feature Vivian Nixon who is an accomplished dancer in her own right.

In 2001, Allen opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, a non-profit organization offering classes for students in various dance disciplines. In addition to her work serving the youth of Greater Los Angeles, she is active with the African Caribbean Leukemia Trust and is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, for which she was appointed by then President George Bush.

“If I can have any part of that, and help to grow back arts education for young people, then I think I will have done a great service to the world.”

Below, please find brief profiles from some of the talent that will travel to L.A. to train with Ms. Allen for the national tour and follow @botk2104 on twitter to follow their journey.

Debbie Allen on Jordan Follins, 15 – Malden, MA

“Jordon is a matinee idol if I ever saw one, “Debbie Allen said. “Girls are just going to go crazy for Jordon” – Debbie Allen

Jordan was born in Boston, MA and is now a freshman at Malden High School in Malden, MA.  He auditioned for Brothers of the Knight because as long as he can remember, he’s always wanted to be a performer.

“I am now completely humbled and grateful to add Brothers of the Knight cast member to the list! This unbelievable opportunity of being mentored by so many gifted and accomplished teachers, as well as working alongside such a talented cast and crew will be another step of my journey that I will never forget!” he says.

Shaquan Reed, 20 – Boston, MA

Shaquan has been dancing since he was three years old.  He studied tap locally with Sean Felder beginning when he was just seven years old. Ever since then, dancing has been a part of his heart.

He says his mother and father have been his biggest supporters. Unfortunately, his father was diagnosed with cancer in 2005.  “Every performance I did, I did for him,” he said.  His father died in 2012.

“I’ve been going stronger since then,” Shaquan says. “Being a part of Brothers of the Knight is a blessing for me and my family.  I’ve always wanted to work with Debbie Allen and having this opportunity shows me that I have a strong angel looking over me.”

Brogan Roth, 10 - Macungie, PA


I have been dancing since I was three and have done modeling since then also. I was a competitive gymnast for the last 3 years but am stopping to focus on dance. I started competitive dance 3 years ago and now compete 4 classes and two solos. I have adored dancing for as long as I can remember.  I have a younger brother and a dog at home!

I went to the audition because my mom thought it would be a great experience. She was a dancer as a child and really admires Debbie Allen. I had hoped to get a chance to be in the show locally, but am really thrilled at the amazing opportunity top go on tour! My mom said a chance to learn from Debbie Allen will be a life changing opportunity. She says she is the best!

Aaron Maiden, 14  -  Willingboro, NJ


   I am an energetic 14 year-old homeschooled teenager who loves to experience new things. I love to dance and spend time with my two older brothers and two younger sisters, as well as my supportive parents. I auditioned for Brothers of the Knight because I thought it was an awesome opportunity and would be  great experience for me and my family.

Debbie Allen on Ryan Phuong 12 – Los Angeles

“When Ryan is on the dance floor it’s hard for me to see anything else.”  He can sing, he can dance and his confidence is unparalleled.  – Debbie Allen

“To be a true artist requires hard work, discipline, resilience, determination, and perseverance,” he says.  “I love to perform, and to be in one of Ms. Allen's productions is truly an honor.”  - Ryan Phuong

Debbie Allen on Jaylin Flowers, 10 – Los Angeles

“It’s really hard for me to find the words to describe Jaylin.  She has such a quiet beauty. She has a face that belongs to an Egyptian princess and she dances with such power.  She is truly a rare bird.” – Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen on Wayne Mackins-Harris, 17 – Los Angeles

“[Mackins-Harris] is an Alvin Alley in the making.” – Debbie Allen

“I auditioned for Brothers of the Knight because it showcases the power and grace of male performers.,” Mackins-Harris says.  “Also it is a show that no matter the mood you're in you'll leave the theater feeling energized, happy, and loving your family more when you leave than when you came.” – Wayne Mackins-Harris

JoAnn   Carrasco, 15 – Los Angeles

Los Angelino JoAnn Carrasco says she “auditioned for Brothers of the Knight for a life changing experience.”  Touring nationally with the production is a real opportunity for Carrasco who “has never been on a plane, or even out of the state!”

Ruby Pappan, 15 – Los Angeles

Pappan says her passion has always been dance – and “once I got such an incredible opportunity to audition for Debbie Allen, I jumped at it. She is a legend.”

   Pappan says she loves to dance, but also love[s] to act and try anything new. We moved to Los Angeles for ME! I feel blessed every day!”

   ###

To access Ms. Allen’s headshot and biography, photos of the cast bios and other resources for the media, access our EPK at www.pomp-us.com/botk

For more information on Brothers of the Knight, visit the production’s official website at www.brothersoftheknight.com.

To see Debbie Allen discuss the project and the local auditions with local media, access www.brothersoftheknight.com/press-media/.

Contact
Sabrina A Taylor, POMP-us PR
***@pomp-us.com

Photo:
http://www.prlog.org/12329537/1

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Source:Debbie Allen Dance Academy
City/Town:Hollywood - California - United States
Industry:Arts, Entertainment
Tags:theater, debbie allen, dance, Boston, washington d c, Philadelphia, charlotte, los angeles
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