Aesthetically Speaking

Lula Washington Dance Theatre returns to the Ordway

lula-and-dancers-leaping 300dpi ian foxx 445Choreographer for the films, “Avatar” and “Little Mermaid,” Lula Washington brings her acclaimed company to the Ordway for an evening of dance, delivered with messages of cultural awareness.

jhp 7809The Lula Washington Dance Theatre performs, Friday, Oct. 30 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul. Washington, along with her company, will present a multi-act performance with dance from disciplines ranging from ballet to hip-hop.

A product of the Nickerson Garden Housing Project in the infamous Watts area of Los Angeles, Washington didn’t begin her formal dance training until she was 22 years of age. While still a student at UCLA, Washington caught the attention of Hollywood, and earned dance spots in movies such as “King Kong,” “Sgt. Pepper” and “Funny Lady.” She also danced for the Academy Awards. Hollywood again came calling, this time hiring Washington and her dance company, based on Crenshaw Boulevard in inner city Los Angeles, as choreographer and dancers for the wildly successful films, “Avatar” and “Little Mermaid.” And while those are wonderful feathers in her cap, Washington said her greatest joy is introducing Blacks and Latinos to the world of dance theater.

“That’s what’s most important to me because my community deserves to have cultural arts represented just like any other community,” said Washington when asked why she chose to open her acclaimed academy in the inner city. “I wanted to make dance accessible.”

For her upcoming show at the Ordway, Washington said the audience should come ready to be entertained as well as educated.

“(The audience) should expect an enjoyable, uplifting, informative event,” said Washington. “One of the pieces – ‘Search for Humanism’ – is a very powerful and deals with the issue of Black Lives Matter. People forget that back in the day, dance was used to convey powerful and important messages … to tell our history.”

“Search for Humanism” is performed to a live score written by Marcus L. Miller.

Another scene Washington said she’s excited to present is “Global Village,” which she said is like “really good gumbo” performed to the music of Fela. “It’s a joyous, uplifting piece inspired by various cultures of the African diaspora,” said Washington.

“Lula Washington’s ability to seamlessly fuse so many stylistic influences to create captivating and emotionally-driven pieces is unmatched,” said Dayna Martinez, the Ordway’s artistic director of World Music & Dance.

Tickets for the Lula Washington Dance Theatre range from $23 – $45 and are available by calling (651) 224-4222 or online at

October 29, 2015
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