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SUNY Potsdam Dance-Theatre Premiere to Examine Persistent Racial Issues

January 26, 2021

SUNY Potsdam Department of Theatre & Dance Presents Virtual Premiere of ‘A Love Letter to Brian, Lesley, and Michelle,’ from Feb. 14 to 16

The filmed dance-theatre performance, “A Love Letter to Brian, Lesley, and Michelle,” goes live on Feb. 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. SUNY Potsdam alumna Zoe Walders ’16, third from right, has dance, speaking and administrative roles in the production.

SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to present “A Love Letter to Brian, Lesley, and Michelle,” a filmed dance-theatre premiere that will stream on Feb. 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. The show critically reflects upon the nation’s racial narratives, with each performance followed by a question-and-answer session with the creators and performers.

In this gripping production, art imitates life. It holds a mirror to the audience and challenges viewers through dance, theatre and text, to reflect upon themselves and their presence within the narratives they encounter daily through social media, television, newspapers, politics, family and first-hand encounters.

Viewer participants will be treated to a compelling and diverse commentary addressing prejudice, racial fear, diversity and inclusion, and other important themes of the Black experience. The production — where tensions of everyday life and the experiences of Black and Brown people are brilliantly woven together — forces viewers to step outside of their own bodies and into bodies that continue to be brutalized, objectified and minimized in a nation that pledges equality for all.

“A Love Letter to Brian, Lesley, and Michelle” will be presented daily from Sunday, Feb. 14 to Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. To register for the performance and the question-and-answer session, go to www.cpspotsdam.org. Registration is free.

Zoe Walders ’16, a graduate of the Department of Theatre and Dance, holds dancing, speaking and administrative roles in the production. Its importance, she said, lies in the stage it creates for dialogue and sharing.

“There needs to be a space for dialogue, artistic expression, learning and understanding the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Walders said. “Our goal is to use our art and our methods of communication to open that space. As a performer, I felt like I was entering a space and was responsible for holding that space, which was gratifying but also really challenging.”

Hettie Barnhill, the director and choreographer of this production, has appeared on Broadway in “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,” “Fela!” and “Leap of Faith.” Nominated for a 2017 New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Choreography, she has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Dallas Theater Center and the La Jolla Playhouse. In 2016, she cofounded Create a Space NOW, an interactive social platform that uses performing arts and multimedia to further the discussion around Black Lives Matter. Robert Gertler is the filmmaker of this production.

The project is made possible with funds from the NYS DanceForce, a partnership program of the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Theatre and Dance engages in highly collaborative arts endeavors ranging from directing, choreographing, acting and dancing, to designing, technical work and arts management. For more information, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/AAS/depts/theatre.

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of only three arts campuses in the entire SUNY system. SUNY Potsdam’s arts curriculum offers the full palette: music, theatre, dance, fine arts and creative writing. No matter the discipline, people from all backgrounds can find their creative compass at Potsdam, with myriad arts immersion experiences available for both campus and community.

For Media Inquiries

Bret Yager

news@potsdam.edu 315-267-2114

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