Following two sold-out runs at the National Theatre in London, a successful run at London’s Roundhouse, and a world tour, Nigerian-born playwright Inua Ellams’ acclaimed Barber Shop Chronicles makes its New York and BAM debut December 3—8. The sold-out sensation explores the diversity of Black male identity via the intimate community of the barbershop, where men across the African diaspora have gathered for generations to discuss the world and their lives. Filled with passion, humor, and honesty, the celebrated work is inspired by Ellams’ own experiences as an immigrant.
Directed by Bijan Sheibani, Barber Shop Chronicles follows the conversations and concerns of a group of African men as they interact in six different barbershops in London, Lagos, Johannesburg, Accra, Kampala, and Harare. The all-male, 12-person cast riffs on topics both personal and political—from sports to race relations to views about fatherhood, identity, immigration, and masculinity. Music and dance knit together the individual episodes in this fast-paced production. A mastery of humor, pace, and wit, the story takes place over a single day as characters, jokes, and plotlines traverse continents and cultures.
Barber Shop Chronicles is presented in its New York premiere at Next Wave 2019—the first season under Artistic Director David Binder, in which all artists are making BAM debuts. The season runs through December 2019 and includes theater, dance, music, film, site-specific, and multi-genre work across BAM’s venues and off-site, as well as Holiday programming.
Harvey Theater at BAM Strong (651 Fulton St)
Dec 3—7 at 7:30pm; Dec 7 at 2pm; Dec 8 at 3pm Tickets start at $35
About the Artists Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright, performer, graphic artist, and designer. He is an ambassador for the Ministry of Stories and has published four books of poetry: Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars, Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales, The Wire-Headed Heathen, and #Afterhours. His first play, The 14th Tale, was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his fourth, Barber Shop Chronicles, sold out its run at England’s National Theatre. He is currently touring An Evening with an Immigrant and recently premiered The Half God of Rainfall, a new play in verse at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Kiln Theatre, London. In graphic art and design, online, and in print, he tries to mix the old with the new, juxtaposing texture and pigment with flat shades of color and vector images. Ellams lives and works from London, where he founded the Midnight Run, a nocturnal urban excursion. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Bijan Sheibani was artistic director of the Actors Touring Company (2007—10) and associate director of the National Theatre (2010–15), where he directed A Taste of Honey, Emil and the Detectives, Romeo and Juliet, Damned by Despair, The Kitchen, War Horse (US tour), Greenland, and Our Class. His other theater credits include Dance Nation (Almeida); CircleMirror Transformation (Home, Manchester); The Brothers Size and Eurydice (Young Vic/Actors Touring Company); Barber Shop Chronicles (National Theatre/Fuel/West Yorkshire Playhouse); and Romeo and Juliet (National Theatre). Opera credits include Nothing (Glyndebourne) and Tell Me the Truth About Love (Streetwise Opera).
As a highly skilled, extensively trained Master Cosmetologist with over twenty years of experience behind the chair, Lakia Diggs’s, of The Kia Xperience, LLC, takes her passion for hair far beyond creating innovative styles for her recurring clientele in New York, the DMV area, and Atlanta. Her work has been featured in New York Fashion Week, Baltimore Fashion Week, for media like Vogue and Vogue Italia, and for brands like Roberto Cavalli, Oscar de la Renta, and Jeremy Scott to name a few. Using innovative techniques for weave installation, precision cutting, and advanced custom coloring, Lakia is well versed in the styling and care of all hair types and textures. Yet, she also works continuously to perfect her craft through continuing education coursework, discovering new ways to empower women through haircare products and services.
With an inside-out approach to healthy hair, she is a certified Pravana Colorist and is aspiring to complete her certification in Trichology, making her a specialist in the health and treatment of hair and scalp conditions. Ever the entrepreneur, she used this knowledge to develop the TKX Hair Follicle Stimulant Drops, her own line of premium hair extensions named Bundles From Mary that feature a diverse assortment of human hair textures and densities from a variety of origins that blend flawlessly with many hair types, and her wig unit line entitled The Peruca Collection.
As an advocate for business owners and the cosmetology industry as a whole, Lakia is an instructor for burgeoning hairstylists, educating them on the levels of hair care, business management, client retention, state board exam refreshing, and branding. Additionally, she serves as a member and State Captain of the Maryland branch of the Professional Beauty Association. Lakia also works to improve her community through philanthropic endeavors like her annual school supply drive and prom drive, during which she donates gowns, hair, and nail services to students who display strong academic leadership. Through additional partnerships with non-profit organizations, Lakia works year round to provide the underprivileged youth in her community with the tools they need to have successful school years. Through her commitment to the artistry of cosmetology, her benevolence, and strong business acumen, Lakia Diggs continues to grow as a leader in the industry.
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 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.
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.
The 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!
First 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.
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.
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.
Aight so boom, you went to pottery class because, why not? You get home and because you might be just as clumsy as I am, you drop the bowl and realize its cracked. You don’t throw it out because we don’t have money to waste and you take it down the block and have them perform Kintsurkiurio and repair it with liquid gold. Now that bowl is fire, I mean it has liquid gold in it now, so why wouldn’t it be fire. After being broken, it’s even more beautiful than it was when you bought it home.
Now try applying that to self. We go through shit all the time. Sometimes every day, sometimes every hour, and sometimes it seems like we can’t keep it together for even a minute. But with all of these things that happen to us, we are like that bowl we made, broken, but never too far gone to the point of not being able to be repaired. I thought I was too far gone countless of times. I thought I had no more hope and no more reasons to be repaired. I figured, damn, I’m at rock bottom so often I might need to change my address. Until I realized, yo, fuck clay, get gold. The more shit I went through, I started thinking I had to be going through it for a reason. If not to help someone else around me, then to become even more fire than I was before.
So go through it. Feel those hard times, let it get you down, let it tear you apart, hate it, love it, because when you come out of that shit, a survivor, a warrior, a beautiful/handsome ass piece of golden structure, you’re gonna be proud of that struggle. In my hardest times, I always had people telling me that my feelings and tribulations would pass. Honestly, I thought they were full of shit. BUT, they were right. It doesn’t go away because whatever happened, happened. But at all times you have to remember that bowl. The more you drop it, and get it fixed; the more you go through and make it out, the more gold you become. Keep your head up Shorty. Fuck Clay, Get Gold.
Kintsurkiurio – to repair with gold; the art of repairing pottery with golden lacquer understanding that the piece is more beautiful having been broken.
Today is bitter sweet. Bitter because this is our final #MustLoveBeards profile of 2016. Sweet because we are bringing back our Taji Mag crowd favorite: Nestle Snipes. This Good Black Man is the lead photographerof Made For a King Photography. A lot has happened since we last spoke with this bearded dapper gent.
Since our last encounter, Nestle Snipes recently shot 8-Time Olympic Track & Field Medalist & Fellow Jamaican Legend Veronica Campbell-Brown and Mr. Fly Malcolm X himself was once again featured in the Hunks 4 Hope calendar, and Made For a King photography has grown its client base. You might have caught a glimpse of our bearded brother on an episode of the breakout Netflix series Luke Cage.
We already know about his stunning portfolio and philanthropic work. This time, we want to look more closely at the man behind the lens.
Africa Jackson: Last time we spoke, it was such a meaningful conversation. It was great to learn about your work to stop domestic violence and your clearly superior artistic eye. We focused a lot on your business before, and now we want to focus more on you. What makes you happy?
Nestle Snipes: (smiles) A lot of things — a healthy bond with others, experiencing nature, laying in the grass, meditation, doing something meaningful with my hands. Giving gifts and seeing the recipient smile. Laughing — I love a good laugh. I enjoy partying. If people want to be jovial, I’m down. Spending time with my mom also makes me happy.
“Our potential is limitless.”
AJ: Ok. You’re in film school, you volunteer, you’re an activist, you party, you run a successful business, you stay fly, and you let fans like me ask questions for 2 hours… but how do you take care of yourself?
Nes: Easy question. In the morning I have an hour of silence. Total hour of appreciation. Daily mantras are vital. I look at my vision board. When I come home, I listen to inspirational music with powerful frequencies: Afrobeat, electronica, jazz.
Taking care of myself also involves proper sleep. I want more people to realize that grown-ups are not exempt from naps.
AJ: Let mainstream media tell it, a good Black man is still hard to find. We know that is a myth, but in the midst of the negative energy thrown at yall, I want to know something. What is the greatest thing about being a Black man?
Nes: Our potential is limitless. We are often so revered and appropriated, but our resilience in uncanny. We convert sunlight into energy (metaphorically and literally).
AJ: So much of the miscommunication between Black men and Black women comes from lack of knowledge or lack of understanding. Black love is powerful and has the potential to grow even stronger. What is one thing you wish Black women knew about Black men to help cultivate that growth?
Nes: The Black man you interact with is only working with what he has at the moment. Don’t infringe on his freedoms based on your own desires. For example, getting work done is paramount for me at the moment. I don’t want to cheat myself or anyone else, so I may not pursue a woman. Please don’t say “all men” or “yall men”. We are trying. Don’t be disheartened by certain men who receive you wrong. Young Black boys deal with trauma that may stem from unresolved issues. Many of us had no clear definition of manhood.
“Little gestures mean a lot, yes, but I know it is not enough.”
AJ: What is one thing you wish you knew about Black women?
Nes: How can I be more of an ally beyond taking you out [to dinner]? How can we help? Little gestures mean a lot, yes, but I know it is not enough. We are at a loss without you telling us. The best way for Black women to communicate their needs to Black men is to do it without being condescending. Please don’t project the pain from other men onto us. In 2017 I want people to stop negative blaming and projecting insecurities. We have full autonomy. the transfer of energy matters.
“I want Black men to start protecting Black women.”
Since the days of the Renaissance, Harlem has served as the epicenter of music, literature, art and fashion. As Harlem is being revitalized in the 21st century, Harlem Fashion Week (HFW) introduces a new era of fashion culture to the Harlem community, inspired by its rich cultural heritage.
Harlem Fashion Week is an explosion of culture that bridges the Downtown fashion hub to the Uptown vibe for a rich community experience. It showcases the fashion industry, provides business education for emerging designers, grows Harlem businesses, creates a cultural platform, and just exudes fun!
The inaugural HFW kick off had its opening night celebration on September 7th and culminated with Runway Shows on September 9th at the historic Museum of the City of New York on 5th avenue and Central Park. The four-day event was hosted at restaurants, businesses and cultural centers all throughout the Harlem community and attracted guests that included fashion industry professionals, members of the media, artists, entertainers, buyers and a host of VIPs.
Harlem Fashion Week’s Schedule Included:
• Opening Night Celebration at the Hamilton Landmark Galleries
• Runway Show at the Museum of the City of New York
• The Business of Fashion Symposium at The Harlem State Office Building
• After Party at a posh Harlem venue
• Fashion Awards Ceremony at Museum of the City of New York
• HFW Fashion Brunch at Cheri Harlem
• Production Open House conducted by Manufacture NY
The creators of Harlem Fashion Week are the dynamic mother-daughter team of Tandra Birkett and Yvonne Jewnell, owners of the fashion design company Yvonne Jewnell New York LLC. Yvonne Jewnell New York is an award winning women’s wear company that creates clothing that promotes women empowerment and celebrates culture from across the globe. Combined, they used their talent, skill, and education to create one of the most innovative, emerging fashion houses.
As a company, Yvonne Jewnell New York LLC is a member of Harlem Arts Alliance and Harlem Chamber of Commerce. It has participated in the Annual Harlem Week Festival, hosted a Pop-Up Shop at the Black River Studio, and produced fashion shows at the Hip Hop Cultural Center and the ImageNation Raw Space. It is only natural that they would produce Harlem Fashion Week to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Harlem.
A portion of the proceeds from HFW will go to the restoration project of La Maison des Esclaves – The House of Slaves Museum on Goree Island in Senegal.
We could go on with a bunch of dope adjectives to describe Sehiii, but the energy you’ll feel in the videos below pretty much sums it up! Ok, maybe we’ll gush a little. Sehiii, pronounced Say-Hi (don’t forget your 3rd eye), elevates the positive vibes of your life. At it’s core, it’s an artist showcase – singers, lyricists, poets, dancers, photographers, comedians, painters, illustrators, on and on and on on and on and… Generally hosted at For My Sweet Gallery & Event Space (which got dubbed Sehiii Gallery by some blogger and is now the name that shows when you google the address), Sehiii has grown to be a Brooklyn staple, a safe space for budding artists, a space for seasoned artists to test “new shit,” and an all around good time for those who attend. There are also artisans vending all of the good goods, as well as food and drinks for the low low. On top of all of this, the founder Kqwon is one of the coolest dudes you’ll ever come across. The rest you will just have to experience for yourself, or at least live vicariously via my horrible camera phone vids 😉
For more information on dates and locations, visit Sehiii’s website and follow them on the gram and everywhere else @sehiiinyc!
@iloveyoufun Hosted the night and blessed us with one of her pieces.
Art 2 Activism, hosted by Nasir and Sassy of Art 2 Ink and presented by Art 2 Ink & The Shade Room, cultivated awareness of the problems plaguing our community. Art 2 Ink, a tattoo studio at it’s core, covered its walls with art from featured artists such as @TheOneWillFocus and @CocaineandCaviar. Live Performances were given by the powerful @Mal.Mero of @NYCUnity and energetic @_AlexPhoenix. Donations were collected at the door for the International Youth Leadership Institute. Throughout the evening, video clips of controversial, yet pertinent, discussions looped on the tv, including a special message from The Shade Room.
When we’re being slain in the the streets, it’s important for us to commune and heal. The energy was felt. We look forward to the next installment.
Flip through the photos for a glimpse of the magic that occurs when our people are in one space emitting positivity. Photos by NayMarie for Taji Mag and budding 11 year old artist, Sean Jaiden.
Model/actor Patrick Marcelino, aka Rascamarao, released his first calendar. All of the images featured are from photoshoots he did in 2015, when his career as a model officially launched. Patrick Marcelino is a Brazilian born and raised in The Netherlands, and currently living in New York. He gave up everything back home to make his dream come true in the States as a model/actor. Right now he is fighting to earn $5000 to pay for his working visa, and creativity decided to make his calendar. Buying one of these calendars will contribute to make Patrick’s dream become a reality. Enjoy what you see. Remember: (everything in life is possible)