Clad in platform shoes, a suede-fringe jacket and three-inch afro, the performer asks the 500+ audience in NCSU’s Stewart Theater to raise each hand in a peace sign as Sly & the Family Stone’s “Higher” plays.
Next, the audience is on its feet, peace signs floating in the air, singing in response to the performer’s prompt: “hiiii-gher — HIIII-GHER.” It’s all very fitting and un-cheesy at the end of an hour-long tribute to funk which lightly (dare I say playfully?) tangled the strife of the civil rights movement with colorful moments that suggest, yes, we can transcend our differences.
(Picture) David Dorfman speaks to dancing audience members on stage at conclusion of the performance
The performers invite audience members on stage to dance. After thirty seconds of chaos, a gush of women and men in dresses, jeans and skirts flood the stage. More audience members are dancing on the stage than are sitting in the audience, it appears.
Minutes later, David Dorfman (Artistic Director) and the Prophets of Funk company have joined the audience in the adjoining ballroom for after-party dancing to DJ Ras J‘s mixing, mock tails and eats.
(Picture) Audience gathers in the ballroom to celebrate Center Stage’s 40th Anniversary. Multimedia visual installation by NCSU College of Design Advanced Media Lab
Outside the dark theater, audience members get a close look at one another. People of all ages and races again join on the dance floor — retired and middle-aged patrons, students, funk-aficionados, faculty and staff members with their significant others — to celebrate the performance they just witnessed. They have also gathered to celebrate NCSU Center Stage‘s 40 years of presenting exceptional performance art experiences such as this.
(Picture) Turlington Hall Council students manage the photo station at the 40th Anniversary celebration. Other participating student groups include Black Student Board.
As it turns out, David Dorfman Dance (DDD) and the Prophets of Funk company is in Raleigh for the final stop of a tour around the Southeast. The performance in Raleigh Saturday, February 4th, presented by Center Stage, is also the culmination of a community residency in Raleigh. Among other projects, the residency included a free live preview at Artspace for Downtown Raleigh’s ever-popular First Friday Gallery Walk.
(Picture) Audience development nerds — check out the audience survey included in the programs
With an interest in community-based projects and engaging audiences in challenging but hopeful dialogue about social change, DDD aims to encourage audiences that “in the face of the funk of life there is hope.”