Tag Archives: New York City

15Jun/19

Lil’ Buck: The Real Swan Doc World Premiered at Tribeca

Lil’ Buck discussing his career with Taji Mag during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Photo by William Baldon

A crowd of people sat in silence and awe at a dance performance that was beautiful, captivating and fluid to the accompaniment of music provided by the talented musician, Yo-Yo Ma. Though there weren’t many if any, people of color in the crowd as this was in Beijing, China, what mattered was the headliner was a young Black man from Memphis, Tennessee named Lil’ Buck.

It was a thing of beauty – a man doing what he loves and performing art for the world to see. His performance was something that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud of, a young man being seen for his talent and not just his color. In a world where Black men are vilified, subjected to toxic masculinity and seen on the wrong side of police brutality, it was refreshing to see a glimpse into a world that could exist without racism or discrimination.

When asked about his performance, Lil’ Buck stated, “I never really thought about my performance in that way. For me it wasn’t about performing for the audience, I’m trying to make them feel a certain way. I think that’s why a lot of people gravitate towards me because they don’t see anything else because I don’t. When I’m performing, I am doing my best to become music. It’s a real thing for me. Especially to music that has a story already in it, like the Swan. You can hear the story within it. For me, I can visually see the journey in that song. I don’t come up with anything to impress people, I just feel the music and bring people into my imagination.”

Lil' Buck

Lil’ Buck performing during the documentary Lil’Buck: Real Swan. (Photo provided by Tribeca Film Festival)

The video is a snippet from the documentary “Lil’ Buck: Real Swan” that world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival; it was also the part that stuck out the most to me. To be honest, it made me misty-eyed because it’s what every person wants, or at least what every human being should want — to be able to live in peace and love freely. About the documentary, Andrea Passafiume wrote, “In this exuberant documentary, director Louis Wallecan takes an in-depth look at this extraordinary artist whose passion, drive, discipline, and talent have blazed a unique new path in the world of dance that has included performing all over the world, touring with Madonna, mentoring young dance students, and becoming a passionate advocate for arts education.”

Lil’ Buck: A Young Man From Memphis

Growing up in the Memphis skating scene, particularly at Crystal Palace Roller Rink, was the big thing for youth to keep them entertained and off the streets. Once the skates were taken off and the rink was open for dancing, that’s when the main fun began and people were able to show off their new jookin moves. Jookin is a popular dance style in Memphis for all ages that stems from breakdancing and the gangsta walk. This is how the film, Lil’ Buck: Real Swan, starts to chronicle the life of Lil’ Buck.

“I was born in Chicago and my family moved to Memphis when I was eight. Even back in Chicago, I can remember seeing footwork in indigenous street dancing.” – Lil Buck explained about his roots in dancing and upbringing.

Charles “Lil’ Buck” Riley developed a passion for jookin and dance at the young age of 12. From there he had the desire to become the best dancer he could be. He became so impressed with the length of time that ballerinas could stay on their toes that he decided to take up ballet.

“Growing up I always thought these dancers in videos were making all this money, we literally thought they were rich. All these dancers are next to celebrities like Lil’ Wayne, Madonna, and all these people. Some were not as good as my friends and I, so we would be like, “How the f*ck are they on TV?” We would ask this question every day and tell ourselves that’s where we needed to be.” – Lil’ Buck

Lil’ Buck said that in the beginning, he just wanted to be in videos and put jookin on the map. To be able to reach where he is now. Thinking about how small his dreams were, it just inspires him to dream larger and tell others to do the same. He further explained to not be afraid to dream big and to go after it! It’s not enough just to dream, its the work you put into it. He remembers when he experienced bloody toes and toenails falling off, trying to stand on his toes in his sneakers. Lil’ Buck reminisced, “Imagine walking around all day in school on your toes because you want to build that strength and to be on the level where you surpass ballerinas. It was painful but worth it!”

With some dancers, their goal is to tour with a different artist but not too many dancers see themselves as the artist that has the same strength and power as a singer or actor. They can make a good living for themselves and their family, creating generational wealth. Dancers like Lil’Buck, don’t always have that platform but their art is just as captivating. A lot of kids today are gravitating towards this instant success instead of really investing in themselves and really building themselves, enjoying that journey towards their goal. Lil’ Buck hopes to be a good example of enduring and enjoying the journey.

The Inspiration

Lil’ Buck being interviewed by Felipe Patterson (aka Dapper Dr Feel) of Taji Mag at the Roxy hotel during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. (Video by William Baldon)

Lil’Buck discussed that his inspirations are Earl “Snake Hips” Tucker, the Nicholas Brothers, Little Buck, Buck and Bubbles, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Michael Jackson. He explained the way they combined film and dance was inspiring to him. The way they combined storytelling and dance was amazing to him. He remembers that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, always called his music videos short films.

“Those that inspire me are my peers, Daniel Price, G-Nerd, Jah Quincey, Caviar Taylor (On My Toes), BoBo and all the rappers like 3×6 Mafia, DJ Squeaky, they created what I’m into.” – Lil Buck talking about others that inspire him.

Bruce Lee was one of his biggest inspirations because of his philosophy on life. Not isolating yourself mentally to learning only one thing. He was open to learning and putting together different forms of martial arts. He’s always into strengthening himself and thinking outside the box.

Lil' BuckThe doc starts off with smooth jookin moves, that impressed me and reminded me of the great dancing films like Breakin’. I wasn’t sure what the aim of the film was but this direction definitely kept me engaged. It didn’t feel corny or fake like the multiple Step Up films that lack the originality of dancers in this film. Every one of them passionate about their craft and every move.

The film was amazing and well done down the other performers describing their love of jookin and their performance that followed to the storytelling of a young Buck’s evolution of aspiring background dancer to a headlining performer. The ending of the film is creative as it has a dancing Lil’ Buck transitioning from background to foreground and left of the screen to the opposite side, representing the journey the project has taken you on.

It’s a film that everyone should see, especially the little boys of color, to show them that they should follow their heart and that they can truly be what they want to be in life.

Thank you Lil’ Buck and Lois Wallecan for the great film about such an inspiring young black man!

01Jan/19

That Suits You has Suited 8000 Black Men For Success

That Suits YouFirst impressions can be vital in this life and have a major influence on our journey in the career world. We live during a time when individuals are judged on the basis of their outward appearance, especially young Black men, which is why it is important that we are given tools to break any stereotypes and show our talents. That Suits You does just that — provides information, training, and clothing to Black boys and men to increase their odds of success.

That Suits You is a Black-owned organization based in Brooklyn, NY that focuses on not only providing suits for Black men from high school students to the elderly but gives them the training and tools required to compete in the fields of their choosing. I had the opportunity to speak with Brooklyn native and brainchild of the That Suits You organization, PK Kearsy, to receive more insight about the program.

Dapper Dr. Feel: How did That Suits You originate?

PK Kearsy:  That Suits You formed while I worked as a manager for the Department of Motor Vehicles. It was there that I noticed that some of the young men that I interviewed were not dressed properly and they didn’t have the tools needed to give an impressionable job interview. After doing these interviews for so long and seeing so many men not get hired, I wanted to do something about it. I started working with my brother, Jamel Thompson.

With his 12 years of experience in banking and my experience working with the government, we decided to put our resources to good use. We started to get our old suits and prepared young men for their job interviews. As a result, they started getting hired and developing more self-confidence and positive changes started to occur.

DDF: What do young men have to look forward to when entering the program?

PKK: We have a workshop called Choices where we focus on change, habits, options, image, communication, and effort which all equal success. We talk about networking, relationships, interviewing, social media, building solid relationships and not just using people on their resources. We talk about anger issues and how to manage them because some of these young men have anger issues that hinder their overall growth so we help with that.

That Suits You

DDF: What impact has the organization had and how long has it been helping the community?

PKK: We started in 2013 and so far we have helped over 8,000 men. We have seen them get jobs, develop important/professional relationships. We have made many connections and relationships as we continue to meet our goals. We have great working relationships with HBO, New York City government, Verizon, Red Bull, Via Comm, Banana Republic and many more organizations that have community outreach.

We teach a lot about self-building in these classes that many of the young men thank us for. We teach about the 7/11 rule where within the first seven seconds of meeting a person, we develop 11 judgments about what we see and those judgments don’t even have to be true.

DDF: Have the men you’ve helped come back to be apart of the program or volunteer?

PKK: A good number of them come back to help out providing mentorship or to volunteer. We had a special event, Fundraising February, where a few guys came out and spoke about their progress. It’s really been a blessing to see the cycle, to see what men do after they receive help, to see them take the lessons and blessings they have received and to pass them on to someone else.  We love to work with the guys that have been through our program because they understand the process.

DDF: What are the goals for That Suits You?

PKK:  The short-term goal for That Suits You is to continue to get our book out, Suited For Success. The book has about 25 Black authors and what it took for them to succeed in whatever field they are in (Television, Doctor, Fireman, etc.). Some of these men have had terrible beginnings but have had much success. We want to get the book out and continue to have it within our program for the men in the program to read.

Our long-term goal is to continue to build and form relationships with other organizations. We just formed a relationship with an organization, Dress for Success: Worldwide. We want to learn from them and model them since they are doing so well for women. We want to do the same on the men side. Our goal is to grow and expand, taking our organization from New York to all over the country.

That Suits You

DDF: What is the age range of the men that you help?

PKK: Originally we started with men coming home from prison, that age range is 18 and up. Then we gained a partnership with AARP so we started working with men that were at least 60 years old. Then we wanted to be more proactive with youth so then we went on to help juniors and seniors in high school. Next, we decided to go even younger and help middle school boys. Teaching them to tie ties and providing them with information, even though we don’t have suits for them yet. Sometimes we participate in Career Day in grade schools.

We are also helping men in homeless shelters and provide our services there. They may be living in a homeless shelter but have job interviews coming up. We noticed there are a lot of men living in these homeless shelters. Some of these men may have children that may be around or even in the shelter with them, so it’s important that we help them. When you can empower a man and teach him, not just tell him, suit him up and give him something, it does wonders to his self-confidence. These are the things that can help push him to success.

That Suits You is continuing to grow but looking to connect and form partnerships with other organizations. If you are looking help or become part of the That Suits You movement, email [email protected] or they be contacted here. For more information, visit their website, ThatSuitsYou.org.

That Suits You

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11Dec/17
Alvin Ailey

Art Affecting Humanity: Alvin Ailey ‘Shelter’ to address Homelessness

Affected. Something that we, as citizens of the globe, often feel that we must be less of in order to survive. However, Alvin Ailey is reviving ‘Shelter,’ a piece choreographed by Urban Bush Women’s Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and aims to make us feel just that; affected. Originally performed in 1992, ‘Shelter’ is a “work that frankly addresses the pain and isolation of homelessness,” says the choreographer. The all-female piece reflects not only the struggle but the resiliency of those who are chronically homeless, she notes. Resiliency that, I feel, is part and parcel of the human spirit that we all share. Just as homelessness affects us one and all.

‘Shelter’ is set to debut for the renown dance troupe’s current season in NYC, a place where blatant homelessness is rampant and it is customary to turn a blind eye. As per inspiration for the piece, Zollar remarked that upon settling into NYC in the 80’s she “realized that as a coping mechanism [she] had stopped seeing the people who were homeless… that was [more] dangerous because it was a loss of humanity.” Humanity being all facets of experience, whoever and wherever you may be. I am currently in Barbados, and homelessness is too. While in the city, I had a stranger point out a characteristically homeless man, explain that they went to University together and that he used to be a lawyer. Perhaps knowing the man forced the strangers conscious to acknowledge him, whereas the other people on the street simply passed him by without a glance. I would then ask: must it directly affect us for us to take part in affecting it? A resident New Yorker myself, I have found that turning a blind eye requires us to repress our Souls. To repress the constant call for sympathy as well as the underlying fear of relating. However, the issue and relevance of homelessness cannot be ignored into non-existence. Whether through dance, art, outreach or otherwise, it begs of us to be constantly addressed through awareness and action.

I send energy to the notion that we are not powerless in this matter. Not in aiding those who are afflicted nor in preventing it for ourselves. But our power lies in our ability to give. Not speaking solely of our money or our time, but of our attention as well. In giving our attention to and, therefore, shining a light on the very things that we wish to push into the darkness, the threat of darkness itself disappears. As opposed to our hearts having to do so instead. Especially if Ms. Zollar and the Alvin Ailey Dancers have anything to do with it. So as audiences pack into the plush seats of City Center’s theater, they will be reminded of the transiency of ‘having’. It is indefatigably important to foster contact with our humanity as often as possible; especially to the experiences that we may feel are not applicable to us at the moment. This is exactly what will be accomplished, yet again, with ‘Shelter’. As James Baldwin said ‘…the Artist knows, and must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”. So yes, it could happen to you. Perhaps it has happened to you already. May there be continuous attention given and inspiration found to address such a prevalent affliction. May we be led to fostering a future where it does not exist. It is possible.

Alvin Ailey 2017 Season happening now.

26Dec/15

Paint the Town in Style with Color

"Let's Paint" collection by fashion designer Delia Alleyne. www.DeliaAlleyne.com

Paint the Town in Style with Color. The “Let’s Paint” women’s fashion collection, created for spring and summer of 2016, offers a splash of colorful contrast against black silhouettes. Fashion Designer Delia Alleyne introduced the line during the September 2015 market week in New York City. The looks include rompers, jackets, funky trousers and that classic little black dress. The “Let’s Paint” collection is splashy, bold and is styled with a retro artist’s cap that makes the collection reminiscent of the psychedelic sixties. The applied fabrics range from nets to denim, to brocades as the paint splatter and appliquéing adds detail and an interesting design element to the collection.

“Painting is like a metaphor for life…”, explains Delia. “We are born as blank canvases waiting to be. Then moment by moment; stroke by stroke… We create life’s memories by applying one colorful moment in our life at a time.”

Fashion Designer: Delia Alleyne Paint the Town in Style with Color

Delia, with her distinguished pink hairstyle, has a passion for colorful fashions. Residing in Trinidad and Tobago, Delia creates fashions tailored towards confident women. Her personal clients are bold about making a grand appearance during special occasions, nightlife hot-spots and red carpet showcases. Delia is inspired by the many crafty artists who surround her Caribbean nation. She began her career designing fashion gowns for pageantry. Delia’s tenure at Trinidad’s Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design school prepared her for a mentorship working on costume design projects with the famed Caribbean couturiers Meiling Esau. Delia strives to bring an avant-garde genre of fashion design into ready-to-wear by applying unique design details, and using finer fabrics. Delia’s goal is for the “Let’s Paint” collection to become a luxuriant lifestyle brand that is recognized throughout the Caribbean.

 

Paint the Town in Style with Color "Let's Paint" collection by fashion designer Delia Alleyne. www.DeliaAlleyne.com  Paint the Town in Style with Color "Let's Paint" collection by fashion designer Delia Alleyne. www.DeliaAlleyne.com  Paint the Town in Style with Color "Let's Paint" collection by fashion designer Delia Alleyne. www.DeliaAlleyne.com

"Let's Paint" collection by fashion designer Delia Alleyne. www.DeliaAlleyne.com

“Let’s Paint” collection by fashion designer Delia Alleyne. www.DeliaAlleyne.com

Photographer: Mr. Melvern Isaac