Vera J. Katz and Liz Lerman in Conversation

Posted on Nov 4, 2015 in Arts, Dance, Theater | 0 comments


(Saturday, October 24, 2015) It was standing room only at the Potter’s House in Adams Morgan in Washington, DC when E. Ethelbert Miller opened the conversation between master teachers in theater and dance, Vera J. Katz and Liz Lerman. It was the first conversation between the two women, both inspiring and influential figures in Washington, DC’s arts scene and around the globe. The conversation covered arts education, the role of exploring identity, race, aging in practicing and learning dance and drama, the challenges of mentorship, making choices for a career and second chances, serving communities in need, and working with and within institutions. The event was produced and presented by E. Ethelbert Miller, Mosaic Theater Company of Washington, DC, and Michon Boston Group Ltd.


“Katz and Lerman continue to touch lives and shape history. There is much to learn from these women. They are teachers whose contributions extend beyond the classroom, workshop and stage. An afternoon of reflections and memories might just be the beginning of a new cultural blueprint.” E. Ethelbert Miller

Liz Lerman and Vera J. Katz. Photo by E. Ethelbert Miller

Liz Lerman and Vera J. Katz. Photo by E. Ethelbert Miller

Vera J. Katz arrived on the Howard University campus in 1969 to teach drama. It was a turbulent time of public grief, outrage, and protest on and off campus following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968; not the time when Howard’s theater students could eagerly embrace a Jewish American woman professor.

Nearly 10 years later Liz Lerman was completing her Master of Arts degree at George Washington University. She was also putting together a unique modern dance company and named it Dance Exchange. For Lerman, the MA degree was a way to get a stipend. The company was, in her words, “holding commitment to concert and community.”

Today Katz is professor emeritus of Howard, gives private coaching, and teaches drama at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts to a new generation of thespians. Katz has been called by former students Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad for dramaturgy and creative counsel. She is also putting the finishing touches on her memoir to include her unique techniques that have brought success to many African American actors appearing on stage, television, and film today: Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”), Anthony Anderson(“Blackish”), Chadwick Boseman (“42,” “Get On Up,” upcoming MARVEL’s “The Black Panther”), Wendy Raquel Robinson (“Steve Harvey Show”), just to name a few.

Lerman’s vision broadened the reach of dance beyond the studio and stage. Her dancers toured nationally and internationally. They were multi-generational tapestry engaging the public in shipyards, synagogues, playgrounds, street corners in motion with geneticists and physicists, as well as health care workers and patients. In 2002 Lerman received a genius award from the MacArthur Foundation, and published a collection of essays, Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer in 2011. Harvard University invited her to be an artist in residence, initiating new projects including the National Civil War Project, and the Healing Wars. Both projects explore the impact of war on humanity through arts and science. After 34 years Dance Exchange has been turned over to a new generation and Lerman has moved her life to Baltimore, Maryland.

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Independent Lens Film Series Joins the Pop-Up Movement

Posted on Oct 11, 2015 in Foodways, Music, Television | 0 comments

Independent Lens, the documentary television series announced the launch of Indie Lens Pop-Up, a neighborhood screening series bringing people together for community-driven conversations around films from the award-winning PBS series.

Formerly known as Community Cinema, the long-running screening series has been renamed Indie Lens Pop-Up to strengthen the bond between the Independent Lens television series and local communities, and bring new energy and new audiences to the in-person events as well as online OVEE events and the broadcasts on PBS stations.

DC flyer_v3 (2) copy 2Indie Lens Pop-Up will have its Washington, DC launch event Saturday, October 17 (5-7 PM) at Busboys and Poets Brookland. Attendees will watch exclusive previews of the coming season’s films and enjoy [in the spirit of the pop-up foodie culture] *a new feature*: thematically paired foods from the Busboys and Poets menu. Upcoming menu items include wings and sliders for In Football We Trust; for The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Busboys and Poets 14th & V location will serve breakfast sandwiches, a nod to the Black Panther’s free breakfast program for school children.

The launch celebration theme, “Eat, Conversate, Love” is inspired by the first film in the new lineup, Autism In Love. Spread Love trombone band and DJ Ayescold are among the artists to be featured at this free event, rising stars in Washington’s booming independent music scene. The Indie Lens Pop-Up event is FREE, but reservations are recommended. Reserve on Eventbrite

Michon Boston Group Ltd is national engagement consultant for Indie Lens Pop-Up (Washington, DC).

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