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This project was successfully funded on July 1, 2017

8th Annual: Fallen Heroes, Rising Stars: A Juneteenth Celebration Through Dance

by Tonya Amos

Through exquisite dance & theater-rocking music, this inspiring, uplifting, and family-friendly production honors the under-acknowledged celebration of Juneteenth, a date in history marking the liberation of African Americans from slavery.  


Grown Women Dance Collective (GWDC) presents the 8th annual Fallen Heroes, Rising Stars: A Juneteenth Celebration Through Dance, featuring powerhouse performances honoring musical greats and civic leaders whose legacies impact and inspire. The all-star cast includes former members of renown dance companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Martha Graham Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, as well as Broadway-stage veterans.  The electrifying performances by dancers over 40 include tributes to Natalie Cole, Phife Dawg, Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Prince, and more. This family- friendly, educational, uplifting, can't-sit-still-in-your-seat celebration of who we are as Americans has the audience of all ages, races, and economic backgrounds singing to itself for weeks.  


We open with stories of 1865 liberation. Over 40 African American musical geniuses and community leaders who have passed since 2000 are honored through multimedia and dance. A gospel “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” is danced with Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”. We close the concert by offering hope to the audience through a video history montage set to James Brown's "Living In America", with images from slave ship, through the election of the nation’s first African American president, Barack Obama, to where to go from here. Our 2017 season includes 4 World Premiers, including a new piece about resistance.  


This season, we continue to offer several free dance and movement classes to enthusiastic, determined, financially challenged children and adults to expose them to and engage them more fully in the arts.  


In a time where cross cultural misunderstandings, social justice issues & racial harmony have a renewed understanding of importance, Grown Women Dance Collective’s work brings people together who may never normally interact. This incredible celebration of African American culture & US history uses a common love of world class musical genius, with the exquisite artistry of performers over 40, to create a healing, common ground. Audience members of all backgrounds engage each other & experience connections in the theater in a powerful way.     


Audience members experience connections in a powerful way. Young men from Oakland dressed in “sagging” jeans sit alongside older women in pearls from Alamo. Many rock & hum in their seats, share stories triggered by something on stage, & sometimes spontaneously hug. 4 year old children dance exuberantly, 80 year olds sway as if in church, teenages stop texting & discover that their musical heroes walk in the footsteps of earlier generations. By using popular music, we meet audience members “where they are.” Whether seasoned concert dance attendees or have never been to a theater, people are profoundly impacted by this beautiful weaving of history, social justice, community empowerment & celebration.


Through this art, people leave the theater having learned things that they hadn’t known before and feeling deeply empowered.

Non African American patrons tell us:   “Mommy, I get it.  Juneteenth is Black people’s Seder, but they only got freed from slavery like a hundred & fifty years ago!”- 8 year old  


“You just taught a year of history in 2.5 hours”- HS history teacher.  


“This show is so important. The dancing & music was beautiful, but what I just learned about America was mindblowing. My family immigrated from China during the revolution. I had no idea that Asians & Blacks had so much in common.” - Middle Aged audience member  


African American patrons tell us (for many, this is their first dance concert):   “My family has been eating dinner together every night since the concert...we’re talking about history & what it means to be an American. My kids suddenly want to talk to me, & they keep teaching me about Black history that they are learning in school that my generation never learned”. Mother of 2 HS daughters  


"I had no idea that you could tell a story with your body like that. It wasn't at all like music videos".  - 17 year old   


“We’ve been trying to get a sense of pride & integrity into the young men in our program for 2 years.  You just got into them what we’ve been trying to do in one night.” - Leader of  African American mentoring program  


“I’ve waited for this show my entire life” - 89 years old, Elayne Jones, barrier breaker in classical music


While raising awareness of African American struggle & triumph, it highlights some of the joy & common experiences that we all share as Americans. Audience members of all races tell us that the concert makes them "proud to be American".  Is a true celebration of the power of diversity.    


This year's venue, The Malonga Casquelourd Arts Center, has been a staple in the downtown Oakland arts scene for nearly 100 years. We’re proud that many people come to our concert as their first experience with the performing arts, fall in love with concert dance, then continue to explore theater & dance afterwards.


All monies from Hatchfund will go directly to fund the concert and expose children to dance, music, and US history in a fun, uplifting, and dynamic way.

Here is a budget breakdown of the Hatchfund portion:

Here is a full budget breakdown of the project :


Project Income Hatchfund 9450 80 Tickets & master classes for low income community ($4800), $4650 theater rental & artist expenses (salaries, out of town airfares & hotels for dancers)
Ticket Sales 14,500
Employee Matching & Grants 11700
Master Classes 2000 Classes with visiting dancers
Sponsorships 2000
Retail & Concessions  


Mugs, photo books, African print bags
Total Project Income 40150
Expenses Theater & Rehearsal space 6000
Materials Extra Lighting, syc, projector 3000 Extra Lighting, syc, projector
Airfare & transport - out of town artists $2,500
Lodging - out of town artists $2,100 50% sponsorship from Concord Hilton 
Artist Fees (Dancers, musicians, singer, actor, musical rights) $7000
Designer & Technical Artist fees (lighting, sound, multimedia, stage management, etc.) $7,000
Printing & Marketing (programs, bios, postcards) $6,500
Videography & Photography 1600
Theater Staffing 1500
Fees (fiscal sponsorship, crowdfunding) 2500
Costumes 300
Insurance 150

Match Funds are not currently available.

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