Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Lemon Project and The Cleo Parker Robinson Ensemble

There is something going on at the College of William & Mary called "The Lemon Project." I have only heard little bits and pieces about it. Link here: The Lemon Project the link appears to be old as it has news & symposium updates up to 2014 but nothing for 2015 & 2016. I happen to know that the project continues and that the 2016 symposium was kicked off Friday night by The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble.

How do I know? Because one of the professors involved is Ms. Leah Glenn. Ms. Glenn happens to be the daughter of my neighbor, Frank Smith. On Wednesday evening we were just getting children into pjs when Mr. Smith knocked on my door. He said something about his daughter and dancers and that one of the young people was from Korea and he wanted me to bring my children over and introduce them. So we quickly threw on some acceptable clothing and went on over. Turns out he had Ms. Cleo Parker Robinson at his house - and her dance ensemble - and a whole lot of other people some of them I've met before. Ms. Cleo came over and introduced herself and I had no idea who she was. And them some of the dancers said hello and I helped the children get started with some conversations and Mr. Smith had whisked Bitsy off to meet YooJung Hahn who it turns out is from South Korea and was in New York for a year and is now with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and has been for a year.  Mrs. Smith comes out to say hello just as I notice Little Hawk (he is now 6) climbing up on to the table and reaching across her lovely white tablecloth to help himself to a piece of cake heavily frosted in chocolate icing. "Let me help you!" I manage to get out and then hover over him while he eats. Little Hawk's enthusiasm for the desert amuses Mrs. Smith's sisters and friends.
Bitsy passes by and asks if she can go sit by herself a minute and trots off to find someplace quiet. I am initially surprised as she is our most social of social divas. I wonder if she is simply overwhelmed or if it is the "you must come meet the Korean dancer" that has thrown her. I am watching her settle and still keeping an eye on Little Hawk as he attacks the next desert option and a few more dancers wander out into the dining room. I must look overwhelmed because one young man simply gives me a hug as he passes me and I'm both delighted and amused. It was if he was saying "it's okay lost white lady, we got you." And then I find myself and MLyons (my dancer) talked to Cedric Dewayne Hall who is gracious and enthusiastic. He tells us more about the dance company and the school in Denver and recruits MLyons to attend a summer session. The dancers are tired and on their way out. I notice Ralaya Goshea in a boot and ask her about her foot. In the conversation we talk about proper nutrition for healing sprains and I want to learn more. And then I'm rounding up my children and headed back to my house and getting them to bed and Googling Cleo Parker Robinson. Oh my. I had no idea.

Thursday I buy tickets at the Kimball Theater.

Friday I see one of MLyon's dance instructors and mention the experience and mangle Miss Cleo's name but he manages to put it all together. "Cleo Parker Robinson Company?" He asks me. "If that is who this is it is a very big deal." And he says he will see us at the performance. He does go and we do see him there.

The performance was amazing. I haven't seen this caliber of dancing in years. What a gift. I'm sitting in my chair smiling and teary eyed - dance does that to me - lost in the performance. Afterwards Cedric asks me my favorite piece. I don't have a good answer. Having had a few days to process I think my favorite was the excerpt from "Lush Life" which is a collaboration between Cleo Parker Robinson and Dr. Maya Angelou. Vibrant & Rich.

MLyons loved "Raindance" their signature piece.

I'm so grateful that this ensemble made their way to little ole Williamsburg to perform in a Theater that only holds 400. I'm so grateful that my neighbor came and said "you need to bring the children and meet these people." Such an amazing experience.

after the show, with Miss Cleo and Leah Glenn

after the show with YooJung Hahn

after the show with Ralaya Goshea on the left and Cedric Dewayne Hall
on the right and I'm not sure his name in the middle

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