by Michael Sarko
– The Capitol Hill Times –
February is Black History Month in these United States, a time of celebration and reverence for the cultural contributions of African American people to our national story. The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute at the corner of 17th Avenue and East Yesler Way, has a busy slate of shows and activities for people of all ages throughout the month.
Langston’s Birthday Bash
Friday, Feb. 1
$15 advance, $20 at the door
The LHPAI takes its name from one of the most prominent writers of the 20th century, Harlem Renaissance luminary Langston Hughes. The author of dozens of works of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and drama was known for being as bold as he was eloquent, addressing issues of race and culture head-on while also forming lifelong friendships with some of the greatest jazz musicians of his time. Hughes came into the world on Febr. 1, so Black History Month at the LHPAI is kicking off with a celebration of the literary legend’s 111th birthday. To set the mood, party guests will get to enjoy some Motown classics care of singer Josephine Howell’s powerful pipes.
A Weekend with Tayo Aluko
Friday, Feb. 8 – Sunday, Feb. 10
All dates 7:30 p.m.
$20 advance and $25 at the door (Feb 8-9), $10 advance and $15 at the door (Feb 10)
To call Nigerian man-about-the-world Tayo Aluko a writer would be to ignore his talents as a musician and a professional architect. Based out of Liverpool, England and often on the road for one creative project or another, Aluko is coming to the LHPAI for three days to share some of his most popular and socially relevant work. On Feb. 8 and 9, he will be performing his award-winning one-man show, “Call Mr. Robeson.” The play is an examination of the actor and singer Paul Robeson whose fame was swept under the rug of history after he became an outspoken political activist in the mid-20th century. Then, on the evening of Feb. 10, Tayo Aluko will present “From Africa to the White House,” a talk on the large historical arc of the African American community, culminating in the implications of the election and re-election of President Barack Obama.
Cleo Parker Dance Ensemble Weekend
School Matinee: Friday, Feb. 15, 12 p.m. ($6)
Performance: Saturday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m. ($25 advance, $30 at the door)
Youth Workshop: Sunday, Feb. 17, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. ($10)
Teen and Adult Workshop: Sunday, Feb. 17, 12:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ($15)
Cleo Parker Robinson is an accomplished choreographer and dance instructor who has a touring company of multicultural dancers and was once appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President Bill Clinton. Her dance ensemble is coming to Seattle to perform “FUSION,” a show created by Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus. The main performance is on Feb. 16, with a special school matinee on the afternoon of the Friday before. Cleo’s crew is also holding a pair of dance workshops that Sunday for those who want to learn some moves of their own. There is a youth workshop for kids followed by a workshop for teens and adults. Prior registration for the workshops is strongly encouraged.
Friday, March 1
School Matinee: 12 p.m. ($6)
Main Performance: 7:30 p.m. ($20 advance, $25 at the door)
Karen Jones Meadows has been dazzling audiences around the world for years with her famous play, “Harriet’s Return.” It is the life story of spiritual and political icon Harriet Tubman, the brave soul most famous for her vital role in the Underground Railroad that led many slaves to freedom in the shadow of the Civil War. This true tale of Tubman’s harrowing existence is a fine way to close out Black History Month at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.
All advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets, including a ten percent discount for an all-events pass.