“It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.” These words were spoken by a woman, who, at the age of 15, was an orphan wandering the streets of New York. Despite Ella Fitzgerald’s humble beginnings, her epic rise to stardom would earn her the title of “The Undisputed Queen of Jazz Singing.”
On Dec. 2, Georgetown’s Black Movements Dance Theater will recount Ella’s journey in their Winter Concert, Ella and all that Jazz, in honor of the singer’s centennial. The dance performance will incorporate movement, poetry, and singing to present snippets of Ella’s life, and celebrate her profound impact on both jazz and the African American community.
The show’s theme is in stark contrast to shows BMDT has put on in their recent history. Student co-director Ashley Newman explained, “We usually do heavier pieces that explore the black experience, but I like that we are kind of exploring the upbeat and joyous part of the black experience.” The dance genre will be different, as well. BMDT has generally focused on modern movement as their main method of storytelling, but will shift their focus to faster-pace, more technical jazz routines to enliven the audience and create a speakeasy-like atmosphere.
“It didn’t matter how rich you were, how poor you were, everyone got dressed to go out Friday night,” said Kay Threatt, student co-director. Newman added, “You had a long, hard week at work. But everybody came home, dressed to the nines, and went to the speakeasy. We’re trying to show how much clean fun they had back then.” Ella will offer an escape for audience members into this simpler era, while simultaneously investigating how Ella and the African American community were able to trailblaze the Jazz genre during a period of such blatant racism.
Ella will include choreography created by students, Artistic Director Professor Alfreda Davis, and world-renowned master artist Christopher Huggins. The show will offer free admission and unreserved seating, and will take place in the Devine Theatre on December 2nd, 2017 at 8 p.m. For more information, visit the Department of Performing Arts at http://www.performingarts.georgetown.edu