Nov. 17: ‘Are You Okay?’ explores the human condition through hip-hop and street dance

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MANCHESTER, NH — On Thursday, November 17, at 5:30 p.m., New Hampshire Dance Collaborative (NHDC) will present “Are You Okay?” at The Factory On Willow, 252 Willow St., in Manchester. 

Created by Anthony Bounphakhom of The Block Collaborative in Portsmouth, “Are You Okay?” sheds light on the subject of mental health and the value of self-care through hip-hop dance/street styles and dance movement. The free performance on November 17 will present 4 short excerpts from ‘Are You Okay,’ which premiers in its entirety on Wednesday, December 7 at The Factory. 

“The show will take the audience on an adventure through fantasy, imagination, dance, and storytelling and is told through the eyes of three main characters,” explained Bounphakhom. “Through their struggles, these characters have created inner demons that must be faced.”

Regarding the role of dance to help tell complex stories like ‘Are You Okay,’ Bounphakhom referred to it as “a natural language.” “I discovered dance at the age of 13 –  it helped me to create my cultural identity.”

Coreographer and creator Anthony Bounphakhom of The Block Collaborative in Portsmouth, says “Are You Okay?” is meant to shed light on the subject of mental health and the value of self-care through hip-hop dance/street styles and dance movement. Courtesy Photo

Learning dance on the street and through workshops, Bounphakhom has found widespread success, as his choreography has been shown throughout New England, most notably at The Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston. He is also a featured dancer in the recently released film, Hocus Pocus 2, now streaming on Disney Plus. 

“It was a lot of fun and very exciting, but I’m just as excited about ‘Are You Okay,’ he added.

In addition to presenting four excerpts from “Are You Okay?” the performance on November 17 will feature a moderated discussion with Najee Brown, founder of Theater For The People, a BIPOC-produced touring theater in Eliot, ME. 

“We are thrilled to have Najee with us for this very special evening,” said NHDC Founder Joan Brodsky, who noted ‘Are You Okay’ is part of Excerpts and Investigation (E&I).

Launched this summer, E&I is a communication initiative developed by NHDC to present dance as a useful, inspiring art form that is relevant in broader contexts. E&I also provides free brief previews followed by moderated discussions as a way to help educate audiences about dance before full performances.

A moderated discussion with Najee Brown, founder of Theater For The People, a BIPOC-produced touring theater in Eliot, ME, will follow Thursday’s performances. Courtesy Photo

“Incorporating more dance into our human experience would be a powerful tool in further developing human understanding and tolerance for each other,” said Brodsky. “Dance framed and presented as a form of connection and human understanding is impactful because the primary instrument of communication is the body.”

In launching Excerpts and Investigation, Brodsky said her intent was to create a platform for dance companies in New Hampshire “to better promote their work and value.” “Dance is a form of human expression that can encourage a more nuanced understanding of the human condition,” she said.

Bounphakhom agreed and added, “Dance has always been in human life. It is an expression of the soul. Watch someone move. What dance does is pluck at the person’s soul.”

The hope for Brodsky is that Bounphakhom’s ‘Are You Okay’ can “pluck at the souls of people unfamiliar with dance.” This is a performance that presents dance in an approachable, understandable way with real metaphorical significance in these uncertain times,” she said. 

Select performances from “Are You Okay?” will be presented Thursday, November 17, at 5:30 p.m. at The Factory On Willow, 252 Willow St., in Manchester. Appetizers will be served at 5:30 p.m. followed by the performance from 6 to 6:20 p.m. and then moderated discussion. Attendance is free. 

CLICK HERE to register for “Are You Okay?” via Eventbrite or visit nhdancecollaborative.com.

“Are You Okay?” explores the human condition through an ensemble hip-hop and street dance performance.

 

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