Actress Vinie Burrows with Sierra Leone Ambassador and Friend
Legros Cultural Arts Inc. held their third annual awards ceremony to honor outstanding artists at the elegant Gonzalez Y Gonzales, a Latin supper club on the lower east side of Manhattan. It was a multi cultural affair covering a wide array of artists. The program began with a solo dance performance especially choreographed for this occasion. It was both imaginative and dynamic and was an excellent way to begin the festivities.
The Magic Of Movement
The Majesty Of Dance
A Visual Alchemist Synthesizing Two Worlds
The first recipient was Ms. Anu Annam, a beautiful and elegant East Indian woman who is a visual artist. But like all of the artists honored here she is a socially conscious cultural worker who has worked on a number of projects such as Haitian relief. She told of being bi-cultural, regularly traveling back and forth between India and the US. Ms. Anum spoke of the experience as enriching, and noted the difference in the status of South Asians in the US. She also spoke of the pressure from parents to do something “safe” like become a doctor or lawyer. But after they saw the millions that performing artists like Beyonce is making they have accepted her choice. She also paid high compliments to Legros for bringing her together with such a diverse group of Artists, thus broadening her cultural perspective.
The next honoree was the photographer Jocelyn Denis. She was a jovial and loquacious lady, oozing with charm and beaming with intelligence. Her remark about photography reminds me of the legendary Afro-American photographer James Vanderzee, one of the great photographic artist of the twentieth century. When she said “If no body photographs an event how do you know it actually happened?” I was reminded of Vanderzee’s comment when he looked around at the splendor of the Harlem Reniassance and observed: “A Picture will last forever.”
Ms. Jocelyn Denis: Photographer Of Our Cultural Life
The Exquisite Ms. Noreen Crayton
Singer, Songwriter, Thespian
Ms. Crayton was one of the most eloquent of the recipients. Having begun her singing career in the church, as has so many other great black singers, she was warm, charming and intelligent. And she give abundant props to Legos for creating this forum where multi-cultural artists can meet and interact. She was a delight to listen to.
Vinie Burrows: A Great Lady Of the American Stage
Actress, Playwright, Producer, Theater Founder, Freedom fighter!
Ms. Vinie Burrows has given 6,000 performances that she can document. There is no greater American Thespian than this lady. Upon her introduction by the eloquent and erudite playwright J. E. Franklin, the audience gave her a rousing ovation. She began by thanking the many people from varied walks of life who came out to honor her. Then Ms. Burrows recalled that early on she began to understand that she “had to struggle not only as a black person but as a woman.” She said of upon receiving her Lifetime Award, “In my case, a life time is very long time.” Yet she chose to exercise the woman’s prerogative and leave us to guess at her age – which is superfluous in this instance because she is nimble of mind and young at heart.
Ms. Burrows recalls that she was primed for the life she has led in the theater with the mysterious rituals of the Catholic Church. “My sense of struggle came from growing up during the Great Depression.” And her encounters with the racism of the commercial theater led her to concentrate on the one woman shows. Of which she created eight: “I not only made a living; I made a great life.”
This is an important distinction that too many young actors do not understand. For them its all about the “bling,” the glitter and glamour. After lamenting the dreadful economic climate that young people are facing today, and reminding us of the need to struggle in behalf of the freedom of oppressed everywhere, she gave a dramatic reading of Margret Walker’s epic poem “For My People!”
It was a performance that at once captured both the pathos and joi de vivre of Afro-American life. Ms. Walkers epic Poem, though written in the middle of the last century continues to ring true today. It is only through those sensitive souls who can feel the pain of a people that we can experience the full depth of that people’s saga. And in accurately capturing the hopes, dreams, pain and passions of a single people the poet becomes seer and her truth becomes universal! Ms. Burrows brought the entire range of our experience to life and illuminated our humanity.
After Ms. Burrows retired to her seat, another great American thespian and engaged artist, the fabulous Ruby Dee, took the stage to sing her praises. It was spiritually uplifting just to be in the presence of these great women; freedom fighters whose art was forged in the fires of struggle. After Ms. Dee concluded her remarks a lady singer with powerful pipes took the stage and sang “Feeling Free,” which she said was a Nina Simone song. She sang in a passionate voice that called our spirits to rejoice in the celebration of art. The entire evening was testimony to the healing power of great art. Bravo!
Sable Sisters Of The American Theater
Grand Dames: Actress Ruby Dee and Playwright J. E. Franklin!
Eye Candy! Was Everywhere!
You can Always Tell Dancers By Their Splendid Bodies
A Trinidadian Face Man
Stephen Hadeed Jr. A Gentleman Thespian
In Recognition Of a Job Well Done!
Text and Photographs By:
Harlem, New York
Dec 1, 2010