Dallas Black Dance Theater: The Nina Simone Project

Nina Simone wasn’t just a singer; she was an innovative songwriter who blended musical genres, and she was a trailblazing civil-rights activist. When legendary choreographer Dianne McIntyre was first approached about creating The Nina Simone Project, an evening-length dance work about the singer, she decided to focus on the woman behind the name. Though Simone is known for her iconic work in soul and jazz, McIntyre begins the program with the singer’s early folk renditions, from the time Simone spent singing in the bars and pubs of Atlantic City. From there, the audience is taken on a nine-song journey documenting Simone’s emergence as a popular artist and her subsequent exile abroad.

Stylistically speaking, McIntyre’s choreography is an excellent pairing for the members of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, who are performing the work here. (The company is returning to the Talento Bilingüe de Houston stage courtesy of MECA after a successful 2013 appearance.) In order to convey the musical diversity of Simone’s discography, it makes sense to utilize a company with an equally diverse movement vocabulary. McIntyre incorporates elements of jazz and modern dance to illuminate Simone’s fascinating and turbulent life. The Nina Simone Project is a DBDT audience favorite, and it’s not hard to see why. Aside from the dancing, the score includes some of Simone’s most cherished recordings, including “Come by Here,” “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” “Backlash Blues” and “I Sing Just to Know That I’m Alive (Trinidad).” The show also includes vocal narration and video projections.

7 p.m. 333 South Jensen Drive. For information, visit meca-houston.org. $15.
Sat., Feb. 1, 7 p.m., 2014

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Adam Castaneda
Contact: Adam Castaneda