Six world-class choreographers will get together with 15 dancers and a production crew in Lafayette in October to produce “James Brown: Get on the Good Foot — a Celebration for Dance” ahead of its Oct. 22 world premiere at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.

Announcement of the collaborative was made Tuesday at the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. “We are excited to be a part of a project that showcases such a cultural and artistic icon,” says City-Parish President Joey Durel. “Lafayette is home to many resources – from our cultural facilities, to the faculty and students at our university, to our entrepreneurial local community and our excellent population of artists. Partnering with the Apollo gives us an opportunity to engage all of those resources together.”

Photo by James Edmunds
Jackie Lyle speaks during Tuesday's announcement. Beside her is an
Apollo Theater "Tree of Hope," which performers rub for good luck.

Dancers from the Philadelphia Dance Company will perform to the icon’s music and also to new works influenced by Brown, who performed at the Apollo more than 200 times. He died in 2006.

The project has been in the works since last summer, shepherded in large part by Jackie Lyle, the former executive director of the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana. The collaboration became even more attractive through the state’s Live Entertainment Initiative, a tax credit system that supports live performances that launch in Louisiana.

“From the moment I heard about this production and the opportunity to work with the Apollo, I wanted to be part of the project and bring it to Lafayette,” says Lyle. “It’s a perfect fit with Louisiana’s Live Entertainment Initiative, with the unique entrepreneurial character of Lafayette and with the cultural resources in our community. Virtually every person with whom I have shared news of the James Brown project is anxious to be involved.”

Choreographers for “Get on the Good Foot,” which will do community-outreach projects in Lafayette in the days leading up to the premiere, are Souleymane Badolo (Burkina Faso), Ronald K. Brown (United States), Thang Dao (Vietnam), Derick K. Grant (United States), Abdel Saalam (United States) and Aakash Odedra (United Kingdom).

At the Tuesday announcement, Apollo Executive Producer Mikki Shepard cited Brown’s enormous influence on funk, soul, R & B, jazz, pop, rock and rap: “There isn’t a place on the planet where his influence doesn’t reach, and we’re proud to say it can be traced back to Harlem and with this new production at the Apollo we are helping to keep his spirit alive.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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