May 25, 2002, Saturday
Tribute to Older Jazz Dancers
The motto of the annual Harlem Jazz Dance Festival is ''celebrate dance, celebrate life.'' That sense of celebration filled ''Harlem Renaissance Tribute,'' the festival's culminating event on Sunday night at the Marcus Garvey Park Amphitheater.
The night was cold. The show started late. But spirits were high on both sides of the stage as young performers paid tribute to older master dancers in a vivid program put together by Anne-Marie Brule and Elka Samuels Smith.
Yvette Glover was a master of ceremonies with unfailing humor and down-home warmth. The show, put together by Anne-Marie Brule and Elka Samuels Smith, provided a rare chance to savor the artistry of three master dancers. Dawn Hampton, a tiny, ebullient star Lindy Hopper now in her 70's, was irresistible in a sly come-hither number with the genial, fast-footed John Dokes. One of the most touching dances was her duet with Janice Wilson, whose delight in Ms. Hampton moved her to create the American Institute of Vernacular Jazz Dance, which produced the festival. The Lindy Hop was also represented by Lindy Movement, an eight-member group that performed ingenious choreography by Peter Strom and Mike Faltesek.
Freddie Rios, the salsa and mambo dancer and teacher, was fascinating in the ways he managed to embody the styles and the music's rhythms wittily with little apparent effort or motion. Tribute was paid to Mr. Rios by Razz M'Tazz, a young mambo group that performed sensual dances choreographed by Amanda Cardona, and the father-and-son drumming duo of JoJo and Rocky Smith.
The program also paid tribute to the stylish Silver Belles (Marion Coles, Cleo Hayes, Elaine Ellis and Faye Rey). The fourth honoree, the tap star Buster Brown, died this month, but young devotees were on hand to pay tribute, including Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, who danced a solo to Brown's signature music ''Cute,'' and an all-star tap quartet (Andrew Nemr, Baakari Wilder, Marshall Davis and Jason Samuels Smith). A three-man jazz ensemble provided savvy live accompaniment.