BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: New documentary illuminates Bill T. Jones’ landmark work

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By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

A new documentary, opening in Los Angeles and theaters and virtual cinemas nationwide July 23, reaches beyond the world of dance to focus on one of the most important works of art to come out of the AIDS crisis.

“Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters” brings to life the creative process of the renowned choreographer-dancer-director (“Fela!,” “Spring Awakening”) in creating his tour de force ballet which in 1989 gave physical manifestation to the fear, anger, grief and hope for salvation that the emerging Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (both partners at the time) felt as they were embattled by the AIDS epidemic.

As a group of young dancers in the present re-interpret the work, they deepen their understanding of its power — exploring what is at stake in their own lives in order to commit and perform it successfully.

Through an extraordinary collage of interviews, archival material and uniquely powerful cinematography, this lyrical movie uses the story of this iconic dance to illustrate the power of art and the triumph of the human spirit.

“[Directors Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz] succeeded in telescoping the story of ‘D-Man in the Waters’ into the future,” Jones said. “I look forward to the journey of this film. Because this film should not let people forget — you’re lucky in your life if you have one moment where you’re at once strong enough, brave enough and resourceful enough to throw down and make something like ‘D-Man in the Waters’ come into being.

“This work is not about anybody’s epidemic. It is about the dark spirit of what is happening in the world and how you push back against it.”

Felix Mendelssohn’s soaring “Octet for Strings” propels the non-stop momentum, sending the dancers hurling across the stage in a whirlwind of leaps, rolls and slides.

Jones has said that the fact that Mendelssohn was just 16 years old when he composed the work resonated strongly with him.

“This piece was created when we were dealing with a lot of death,” he said. “So creating this work was for us a way of dealing with grief, by finding the joy in the music this 16-year-old boy created.”

BRIGHT LIGHTS: The Black Theatre Network, the nation’s premiere organization of artists, scholars, educators, practitioners, students and theater lovers, announced its 35th annual conference, “Access Granted: About Us, By Us, For Us, Near Us,” July 28-Aug. 1.

The free virtual conference will offer an eclectic mix of performances, panels and conversations, including marquee events featuring actor, director, playwright and Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, poet/playwright and Black Arts Movement luminary Sonia Sanchez, acclaimed stage and screen director Charles Randolph-Wright, and BTN’s inaugural Student Monologue Competition.

For more information, visit www.blacktheatrenetwork.org.

CLIPPETTES: The amazing Ledisi Sings Nina Simone at the Hollywood Bowl on July 24. She will perform the songbook from her PBS tribute special from the same stage where Simone herself sang so many times …

Also that evening Chance The Rapper, Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith, Tori Amos, Chandler Moore and Kari Jobe unite for The Freedom Experience at the brand new SoFi Stadium. Get the details at 1DayLA.com

Meanwhile, Operation Comedy with Bill Burr, John Mayer, Bob Saget, Jeff Ross and more is at The Wiltern

PBS’ landmark civil rights docuseries “Eyes On The Prize” is now streaming on HBO Max with a new special “Eyes On The Prize: Hallowed Ground” to premiere in August from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sophia Nahil Allison …

Comic actor Deon Cole (“black-ish”) brings his Disco Sunday Fellowship to the decks in L.A. under the Long Beach sky July 25 for The House Music Boat Party. Joining him is Soulnic co-founder and resident DJ Derrick Wize. Tickets are at WavesandFrequencies.eventbrite.com

Simultaneously, four-time Grammy winning country bluesman Keb’ Mo’ and The Brother Brothers perform at San Juan Capistrano’s The Coach House

BET+ and CBC series “The Porter” has landed Alfre Woodard (“See”) as a cast member and executive producer.  She’ll play a powerful 1920s brothel owner in the “Harlem of the North” called Black settlement in St. Antoine, Montreal

In Jason Momoa news, the “Aquaman” star has started filming the sequel and will dye his hair blond for more synergy with the hero’s original comics look. He also just got an eight-episode order from HBO Max for a rock-climbing competition series to be called “The Climb”

Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, Little Dragon, Michael Kiwanuka, Earthgang and Georgia Anne Muldrow are among the artists covering Brittany Howard songs on the album “Jaime Reimagined,” out now.

TASTY QUIP: “It doesn’t make sense to me why the folks at that particular network — which I think we all know who we mean — would want to kill their own viewers. Their viewers are older. Their viewers are more susceptible to COVID and I don’t understand what the point is of killing them.” – MSNBC host JOY REID about anti-vaccination messaging from certain Fox News anchors to Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show”

TC ON TV: July 23 – “Olympic Summer Games” (NBC): Watch the Daytime Opening Ceremony live. “Jolt” (Amazon): Kate Beckinsale stars in this action revenge drama with Laverne Cox, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci and Bobby Cannavale. “Ted Lasso” (AppleTV+): The breakout Jason Sudeikis hit comedy about an American football coach bringing his positive outlook to a British soccer team returns for a second season. “Secret Celebrity Renovation” (CBS): NBA All-Star Chris Paul surprises his “Granny and Pops” with a transformation of the Winston-Salem, North Carolina home they have lived in for 50 years. “Classic Albums” (PBS): Tonight’s episode explores the story behind the fourth Queen album “A Night At The Opera.”

July 24 – “The Chi” (Showtime): After a sliding season, last week’s “Love Jones” episode marked a return to the heartstrings that made the show in the first place.  Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted” (NGC): “Michigan’s Yooper Cuisine”

July 27 – “The Haves And The Have Nots” (OWN): Egypt Sherrod (HGTV’s “Flipping Virgins” and “Property Virgins”) hosts this two-part “Final Cast Reunion.” “In Their Own Words” (PBS): Take a riveting ride on the Chuck Berry train exploring the life, the legend, the music, and the man who is regularly credited as the father of rock and roll, through his family, fellow players and stars who were inspired. “American Masters” (PBS): “Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase The Blues Away” dives into the career of the famed guitarist, a pioneer of Chicago’s West Side sound and major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Featuring new performances and interviews with Carlos Santana and more.

July 28 – “Turning The Tables With Robin Roberts” (Disney+): The “Good Morning America” and ABC News co-anchor will host and executive produce (along with LeBron James) this four-episode series featuring intimate round table conversations with female celebrities from all walks of life including Debbie Allen, Sheila E., Melissa Etheridge, Mickey Guyton, Betsey Johnson and Raven-Symoné.

July 29 – “The Good Fight” (Paramount+): The addition of Charmaine Bingwa as new firm hire Carmen Moyo has lit a quiet fire to the legal drama that was just renewed for a sixth season. “Behind the Music” (Paramount+): The groundbreaking and prolific music documentary series returns with several new episodes and the best of the vault remastered and updated for today’s audiences. Up first: LL Cool J and Ricky Martin. “Fboy Island” (HBO Max): Three women get tropical to look for love – only they have to pick from 24 men – half of which are “Nice Guys” with the others conniving for money.  “Jellystone!” (HBO Max): Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Magilla Gorilla and an ensemble cast of Hanna-Barbera characters return in this all new, reimagined take on these characters.  “Resort To Love” (Netflix): Alicia Keys produced this romantic comedy movie starring Christina Milian as an aspiring singer on a journey to find herself in paradise — but what she actually finds is her ex-fiance (Jay Pharoah), his new bride (Christiani Pitts) and a hunky fling (Sinqua Walls). “The Boy Behind The Door” (Shudder): A night of unimaginable terror awaits twelve-year-old Bobby (Lonnie Chavis of “This Is Us”) and his best friend when they are abducted on their way home from school.

IN MEMORIUM: “I can remember so many times trying to beat box like you until my lips was sore& whenever we saw each other your energy was always so full of Life/Love/& Good Vibes Your impact in the culture Is 4EVER & you will NEVER be Forgotten Rest king.” – MISSY ELLIOTT about BIZ MARKIE

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.

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