For a young choreographer, Bed-Stuy is a home and a stage

Call it a bold move. In his five years as a choreographer, Jordan Demetrius Lloyd has performed dances for darkrooms and dances on film...


Call it a bold move. In his five years as a choreographer, Jordan Demetrius Lloyd has performed dances for darkrooms and dances on film. But after two years of isolation from pandemic life, he wanted to do something different, something that would honor his neighborhood, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and his neighbors.

They “gave me so much for two years while I was in deep isolation,” he said, and taught him that “everything I need is right here in my local neighborhood. I wanted to add dance productions to this list.

This motivated Lloyd to self-produce his first dance party. He said he decided it had to be free, outdoors — and made for his neighbors, the people who might sit next to him and strike up a conversation on a park bench. This dance, “Jerome”, will be played in the courtyard of Stephen Decatur 35 Middle School on June 2-3.

Lloyd, 28, works with a small group of rotating collaborators to create mostly narrative dances. He uses a rich mix of movement forms, including hip-hop, West African, modern contemporary and liberation.

“Jordan is an artist and, very importantly, a black artist,” said arts consultant Georgiana Pickett, who became Lloyd’s coach MAP Fund scaffolding for practicing artistsa partnership program with the Jerome Hill Scholarship. Pickett also became a fan. In an email, she applauded its departure from the traditional theater set. “Our parks, schoolyards, bodegas, street corners and stoops should be places of joy, discovery and comfort,” she said. “Jordan is one of the people who make this happen.”

For the past five years, Lloyd has lived on the corner of Halsey Street and Lewis Avenue in Bed-Stuy. At the start of the pandemic, he said: “My parents didn’t want me to get on trains, so I spent time in parks. I became close to people at the corner store run by a team of Yemeni men and Gizmo who runs his thrift store.

On the occasions he has left Bed-Stuy in the past two years, he has returned home to Albany, where he was born and where his parents still live. (Both parents, now retired, worked for the state.) While on a trip, his mother helped him with the Jerome Foundation application.

Lloyd said he remembered watching his mother in West African dance lessons when he was 5: “That’s when I learned how to put on a show. His parents supported him in his dance studies and he received a bachelor’s degree from SUNY College in Brockport in 2016. Since graduation he has worked, collaborated and performed for Beth Gill, Netta Yerushalmy, David Dorfman Dance , Monica Bill Barnes and others, while creating her own dances.

Beginning in 2021, Lloyd has had a series of in-person residencies: at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Petronio Residency Center, and Danspace Project. These gave him crucial support during the pandemic, even if they kept him away from the neighborhood.

From the start, he says, he wanted to stage “Jerome” in a schoolyard in Bed-Stuy. This required building relationships and determining his logistical needs with city officials. “I’m not used to navigating city government,” he said — a different process with a different timeline than working with arts organizations. He spoke to his MP and his representative on the city council, and finally got permission to use MS 35, just around the corner from his house.

He used money from a two-year $50,000 Jerome Hill Fellowship to pay his associates, the money also gave him the luxury of time. Lloyd is used to working fast — he did his first dance in four weeks and made two films since the start of the pandemic. But “Jerome” he had enough time to go back after he finished and give him a deeper look.

“I can feel all these different parts of myself forming and crystallizing in this work,” he said, “and I place it in the middle of the concrete schoolyard where literally everyone can to see him.”

Gray, one of Lloyd’s collaborators in “Jerome,” said he admired Lloyd’s diligence and ability to do many things at once. “Jordan choreographs every moment of the work that is in service of what the piece needs,” he said, and “he’s also interested in who we are and how we fit into the world.” ‘work”.

For Gray, who worked closely with Lloyd for five years, “Jerome” became “a childish, mischievous, imaginative, yet sometimes real person living around and within me.”

The dancers, in sneakers, against the backdrop of the sky and the brick buildings, take up space. In packs, and in long rhythmic sequences, they move in and out in unison, carving sharp angles, stopping with a jolt that reverberates from joint to joint. One or two could break away from the pack, run full speed, slow down and riff the pace of the group streak in solo or duo, and later join. Others can open lawn chairs, sit down and just watch.

And why this title? “Jerome’s name kept coming up during the process,” Lloyd said. And while he acknowledges that “it’s problematic, or complicated, to determine someone’s race based on a name,” he said, “I feel like Jerome is And, given the location and place of the work, it is important that black people feel invited to this experience, and that the piece can be about their brother, uncle or friend.

Lloyd, who described “Jerome” as abstract and layered, said he hopes audiences see the seriousness and the fantasy. “I also hope they see the artists as a bunch of kids at recess.”

In his five years creating dances, Lloyd only showed his work to dance audiences in conventional theatres. But for him, “Jerome” is more a community engagement project than a concert dance relocation experience.

“I told many of my neighbors that I’m a dancer, he says, but they haven’t necessarily seen what I do. It’s my dream that we flood the park with black people who’ve been in Bed-Stuy for years.

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Newsrust - US Top News: For a young choreographer, Bed-Stuy is a home and a stage
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