Lula Washington Dance Theatre: Movement, Music and Current Cultural Issues

Performances and Artists

Lula Washington choreographs with definite themes, ideas and issues in mind. Known for innovative and provocative choreography, her deliberate movements create striking images.

“We are a contemporary modern dance company based on Afrocentric themes and issues,” said Ms. Washington of her namesake dance theatre troupe, recently speaking on the phone from her hometown of Los Angeles, Calif. “I use ballet, modern jazz and hip-hop. I do fusion in my choreography,” she said.

The acclaimed Lula Washington Dance Theatre will appear in Reynolds Hall with an inspiring show Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

On the call was also Erwin Washington, Ms. Washington’s husband. The duo co-founded the company in 1980, and it has traversed the globe in the decades since, performing in locales as varied as Germany, Mexico, Kosovo and China — as well as Southern Nevada.

“Profound and difficult issues will be addressed,” said Mr. Washington of the upcoming Las Vegas performance. “One of the pieces we’re going to feature is called “Search for Humanism.”

Ms. Washington described the piece as an unflinching look at a complicated topic – a current issue so often seen in the news – violence in society and particularly toward black men.

In a different vein, the troupe will also perform “Beautiful Venus and Serena,” an uplifting look at the bond that unites the world champion tennis stars and role models.

“The piece explores their sisterhood, that they’re both competitors and sisters,” Ms. Washington said. ”It’s a study in what happens when they pick up the tennis racquets, and what they do when they put them down again.”

“There’s a good family connection to the show,” added Mr. Washington, about the appeal of the troupe for parents and children alike.

The company’s performance will have an added level of excitement with musical guests Kamasi Washington and backing band Next Step as well as Marcus L. Miller and his Freedom Jazz Movement band. Kamasi Washington, a saxophonist, is one of the brightest young jazz musicians in the world today. He has performed with headliners such as Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill and Kendrick Lamar. His recently released album, The Epic, has already topped the charts. Miller is a multi-talented artist/percussionist. He serves as the dance company’s musical director as well as founder of Freedom Jazz Movement. As a professional drummer, Marcus has recorded, toured and performed with many other artists including Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Bennie Maupin, Trevor Hall, Ozomatli, Ashanti and more.

“This is going to be a great show. It’s going to be great jazz coupled with great dancing,” said Ms. Washington.

“Most people, when they come to see our shows, are changed,” she concluded.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre was a part of the 2015-2016 season.