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Christine Nieves

Christine Nieves

A Memorable Trip to Bountiful

On Wednesday, August 14th, I had the privilege to attend a showing of the critically acclaimed revival of Horton Foote's masterpiece, The Trip to Bountiful. Starring Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, and Cuba Gooding Jr., it tells the story of Carrie Watts (Cicely Tyson), who is living in a small Houston apartment with her soft-spoken son (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and very out-spoken daughter-in-law (Vanessa Williams).

Carrie dreams of returning to her home in a small gulf coast town called Bountiful where she grew up and raised her family. Sneaking away with her latest pension check, Carrie heads to Bountiful for the journey of a lifetime. The result is an unforgettable play about the idea of home and its power to sustain us.

This being the first Broadway show I have ever attended I was amazed and in awe of the performances, set design and overall experience. From the serious moments to the downright hysterical, I was enchanted by it all. The main cast and ensemble were a sight to behold.

After the show's end, the audience was treated to a special post show talkback with cast members Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat and Adepero Oduye. The event, moderated by writer and critic Caryn James, gave a behind the scenes look at the creative process of the show. The actors were very candid with both the interviewer and the audience and were open to any questions, which was a real treat for all in attendance.

I highly recommend this show and strongly encourage you to join the list of celebs that have seen the production. They include: Denzel Washington, director Kenny Leon, Whoopi Goldberg, Diahann Carroll, and Harry Belafonte.

Go see it before it ends on October 9th, 2013.

There is currently a 2 for 1 ticket sale going, get tickets while you still can! http://bit.ly/14tzodB

  • Published in Theatre

Antonevia Ocho-Coultes Debuts Ma's Playhouse

Antonevia Ocho-Coultes gets her shot at theatre production with Nostalgia: Memories of a Tropical Past

Have you ever found yourself contemplating whether or not to start your own business? You have a great idea, but ultimately decide it can wait till later. Sitting in the lobby of a rehearsal space in Manhattan I conduct my interview with someone who decided to put her great idea into action: Antonevia Ocho-Coultes, owner and artistic director of Ma's Playhouse.

Just one year ago Antonevia founded the Caribbean theater company which will showcase its premiere show, Nostalgia: Memories of a Tropical Past, this Friday at the Brooklyn A.R.T. Theater. Creating a theater company had always been a goal for her, but it was a simple conversation with a member of her church that really put things in motion.

"I always had this idea in the back of my mind to do this sometime in the future," said Antonevia Ocho-Coultes. "Strange enough it was this person in my church; he encouraged me. He asked what I was doing. I said I have this idea that I would like to do but probably next year. And he told me why not now? And I realized you're right why not now? That's kind of really what spurred me on. It was now or never."

A native of Trinidad and Tobago Antonevia obtained her BA from St. Francis College and later went on to obtain her MFA in acting from Brooklyn College. It was during her time at Brooklyn College that she discovered how difficult it was to find Caribbean roles.

"Many of the roles I played were African American roles," Antonevia lamented. "And I really loved portraying those roles, but I felt like there was no opportunity for me to play a role that reminded me of home. It confirmed the idea for me that I had always had in the back of my mind to create a Caribbean theater company."

That idea is now a reality with the company's first show set to premiere on May 31, 2013. Nostalgia is a showcase of various works about the Caribbean experience. It is also Antonevia's debut as a producing artistic director.

Said Antonevia on the move to producing artistic director: "I think it was a transition that was very plausible for me because having gone to very many auditions, I'm used to the format and having been in many plays I was used to the structure; the hierarchy and so it was not a terrible transition moving from actor to director. I would say it was more time intensive; labor intensive. I miss not being on the stage, but I like this as well because this is a different part of the creative process and people get to follow a vision that you've had on paper and I really like that."

Antonevia also has some big plans in store for the company that she hopes to achieve within the next five years. Not only does she want to have a thriving theater community and supporters, she also hopes to incorporate TV and Film into Ma's Playhouse.

With the first show just days away I asked Antonevia how she felt about the premiere close at hand.

"I am excited and petrified simply because as an actor, I think the moment you become most afraid is right before you go on stage and this is another aspect of myself that...It's like baring your soul in a very different way," Antonevia responded. "So I'm excited for people to participate and get into it."

Nostalgia: Memories of a Tropical Past premieres on Friday, May 31 at 7:30p.m. at the A.R.T. Theater in Brooklyn. If you miss the premiere, you can catch the second performance on June 9 at 6:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at www.masplayhouse.com or at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/385799 or at the door.

Hurry they're going fast!

  • Published in Theatre

Dashaun Wesley Taking Vogue To New Heights

By Christine Nieves

If you were a fan of America's Best Dance Crew (ABDC) then you might recognize dancer Dashaun Wesley. He was part of the dance crew "Vogue Evolution" on Season 4. They were a breath of fresh air to the competition reintroducing audiences to vogue, a dance style not really seen in mainstream media since Madonna's vogue video, and the 1990 documentary, Paris is Burning. Although they didn't win the competition Dashaun saw an opportunity for something more on the horizon.

"After the show, I noticed how accepting people were of the style and I knew there was an opportunity there. It took a few steps in order to create that and when I did I was able to start teaching, traveling, doing behind the scenes shows, dance events and even doing fashion week events around NYC."

Introduced to voguing at the age of fourteen, Dashaun was hooked immediately.

"My friend and I were in the village one day and we saw people voguing. I was so visually attracted to it so I just had to try it. I went there the next day and the following day to learn as much as I could."

From there he started competing in New York's underground ballroom scene. The ballroom scene is a social subculture of the LGBT community. People compete for trophies and prizes at events known as balls. Those who compete, dance and vogue, while others compete in various genres of drag often trying to pass as a specific gender and social class.

Dashaun-Wesley-Anton-Renborg-1Deshaun Wesley

Not only has voguing given Dashaun the opportunity to be on television, but he has also been able to travel.

"I'm traveling once or twice a month. I never thought that doing vogue would have me traveling and teaching in places like Russia, Finland, Sweden, (and) Germany. I'm seeing different parts of the world I never thought I would see just by doing something I thought was just a hobby."

Voguing has also allowed Dashaun to work with A-list stars such as Fergie.

"Back in 2011, Fergie needed voguers for a benefit concert for the Robin Hood Foundation. We didn't get a chance to perform because of a thunderstorm. However, she remembered me and a couple of other voguers and called us to go perform at the Life Ball. The Life Ball is the largest HIV/AIDS benefit in the world held in Austria. A week after that I got called to do Fergie's upcoming music video."

The music video premiered early this month, you can watch it here:

Although Dashaun is making vogue more visible, there is more he would like to accomplish.

"I meet a lot of people who don't know anything about voguing so when they see it they want to learn more. I want to take this style to a place it hasn't been before. I want to take it to Broadway, to sitcoms, movies, even commercials. Take away the stigma around vogue that it's just a gay dance style, it isn't just a gay dance style it's for everyone."

As for what else Dashaun has in store, a series of YouTube videos may be in the works.

"Right now I'm working on this idea I had to do a series. It's hopefully going to be called, Teach Me How to Vogue. I'll take random people and do a dance number with them. I want to hopefully get it to a place where I can teach celebrities that you would never expect."

If you're interested in taking classes or learning more about Dashaun you can visit his website: http://www.dashaunwesley.com/ and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VogueOfArt

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