Dancer J. Alexander Langley is back in Black for a new premiere performance
RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
To see J. Alexander Langley onstage again will be a treat. After taking a final bow from performing just last December, the queer dancer is making his return to the stage as part of the premiere of Flamenco Black at the Latino Cultural Center.
“I justified doing this because it was an independent gig, and when Bridget and Delilah, I said yes,” Langley explained. He is part of the company of dancers bringing The Flame Foundation and B. Moore Dance’s production to life on Sept. 8 and 9.
Flamenco Dance will premiere a night of dance steeped in African culture as it relates to the flamenco art form. The night will also feature guest bailaora — or dancer — Yinka Esi Graves. The collaborative project features choreography by Graves, Antonio Arrebola, Bridget L. Moore and Delilah Buitròn Arrebola.
“ Flamenco Black is a compilation of flamenco songs, dances and stories that are directly linked to Afro-Andalasion history, African flamenco roots and Black communities,” Delilah Buitron Arrebola, the artistic director and producer of both The Flame Foundation and Flamenco Black said in a press release. “They express powerful imagery through traditional and contemporary stylization. I believe this is the beginning of future productions.”
For Langley, this was an exciting chance to get back on stage, even if it is for just two nights.
He took his last bow with 6 o’Clock Dance Theatre in December after he sustaining an injury. It made him stop and think and put his career into perspective, and he decided it was time to move away from performance and into teaching and artistic leadership.
“That perspective told me that the body don’t do what the body did,” he said with a laugh. “I realized I wanted to move on. But when they [Flamenco Foundation] called me, I was happy to do it.
“The process has been challenging in a good way and forced me to dust off and sharpen my skill set that I almost put to bed.”
Langley’s background as a dancer is impressive. As a Booker T. Washington student and graduate, he studied folklorico, West African and flamenco dance. He studied at the Debbie Allen Dance Institute, and he’s performed with Avant Chamber Ballet and the Orchestra of New Spain and also Ballet Folklorico.
For Flamenco Black, he was tapped as the rehearsal assistant, first receiving choreography via Skype and then teaching that to the cast. The result will be a unique blending of cultures and heritage for the audience to witness.
Langley explained that when African peoples migrated to Europe, Spain was the closest in proximity. And when migration happens, he said “culture finds its space within the new culture and creates its own expression.”
He added that the audiences will be familiar with some of what they see, but he hopes the program will give audience an even more profound understanding of the art of flamenco.
“The cool thing about this show is the wide range of flamenco presented. Audiences can connect to it and understand that no culture is just one thing, and maybe they can see that in themselves,” he said.
Langley suggested that while there’s no direct queer element to the show, he feels like his time working with the choreographers and company has been a safe space for him as a gay man.
“Antonio and Bridget and Delillah are exceptionally inclusive and have brought that love to all of us for who we are,” he said. “They even ask about my fiancé.
But there’s definitely been a great atmosphere where I don’t feel like I have to back down.”
Langley is also working on his own independent dance project. He is inspired by the inclusive and supportive environment he has found working with the Flamenco Black company. He believes that his own project will be a celebration of diversity and creativity.
Gay on stage
We love pointing out what shows have LGBTQ ties — be it via the story, the actors or the creative team. Here are a few stage productions to go gay for this weekend.
• The late Bruce R. Coleman’s final outing as a director, Tigers Be Still, is held over at MainStage ILC’s new 222 space in historic Irving through Saturday. MainStageIrving.com.
• Theatre Arlington continues its 50th anniversary season with the bawdy and edgy puppet musical Avenue Q through Sept. 12. TheatreArlington.org.
• Circle Theatre currently has The Other Josh Cohen running through Sept. 16. The comedy about a down-on-his-luck guy who can’t rise about his bad luck with Cody Dry as music director. CircleTheatre.com.
• Dallas theater legend Terry Martin will direct The Classics Theatre Project’s The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, through Sunday, Sept. 24 at the Stone Cottage in Addison. TheClassicsTheatreProject.com.