The arts are making a strong comeback this season. Just in time for Black History Month. It’s time to educate yourself through art, joy, conflict, film, dance, music, and an Afro-futuristic sci-fi narrative.
The Nicholas Brothers retrospective, online
Fayard and Harold Nicholas have reinvented, redefined and refined dance for the big screen. Somewhere between acrobats and superheroes, the brothers strung together a series of routines for Twentieth Century-Fox musicals that put other icons to shame — Fred Astaire applauded their “Stormy Weather” staircase routine as the greatest dance sequence ever filmed (and he was probably right). This month, the Criterion Channel brought together three of his best appearances with “Down Argentina Way”, “Sun Valley Serenade” and “Stormy Weather”. (criterionchannel.com)
“Summer of Soul” and “Love & Basketball”, various screenings, Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
Questlove made the documentary “Summer of Soul” about the 1969 Harlem cultural festival, often referred to as Black Woodstock, with downright stunning performances by BB King, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder. Writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s ‘Love & Basketball’ ditched sports cliches for a delicate and tender film about gender roles, romance, failure and compromise unlike anything that came before it. or follow. Check brattlefilm.org for showtimes.
40 Acres and A Slam, February 5, online
Activist and writer DiDi Delgado is hosting an online poetry slam to raise money and awareness for the 40 Acres and A School initiative. An effort to create a farm that empowers Black of the marginalized gender and serves as a hub for Black arts, education and growth, the initiative hopes to build momentum through the talents of some of the scene’s brilliant performers. slam. Want to lend a hand or rhyme? Poets can be part of the movement at tinyurl.com/PoetsFor40Acres.
“Young Nerds of Color,” February 17–March 20, Central Square Theater
Boston playwright Melinda Lopez has pulled together excerpts from more than 60 interviews with scientists from the most underrepresented backgrounds to create a story of hidden geniuses for all to see. Working in labs, hunched over computers, and even rock ‘n’ roll, these nerds of color are helping solve the world’s most pressing problems. Rock heroine Nona Hendryx (formerly of Labelle) composed the music, amplifying the vital narrative. (centralsquaretheater.org)
Dreaming Zenzile, February 23-27, Robert J. Orchard Stage
Zenzile Miriam Makeba has done a lot in life. The South African icon was a singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and civil rights activist. Bringing together the enormity of Makeba’s life, Grammy-nominated talent Somi Kakoma created this tribute. It’s a powerful portrait of a powerful artist featuring a live jazz band playing original music and reinterpretations from Makeba’s deep catalog. (artsemerson.org)
“Accommodating Lie”, February 26 and 27, Shubert Theater
Sankofa Danzafro, with his seven dancers and musicians, has organized an evening that will destroy stereotypes and clichés about the black body. The Colombian dance company adds drums, flute, marimba and live vocals to a program on the racial history of Colombia and the United States. (celebrityseries.org)