The Virginia Arts Festival is far from over. The Norfolk Fringe Festival is coming next weekend to downtown Norfolk and the NEON District, pianos are being painted and placed around town for anyone to play, and one of the most powerful and theatrical dance troupes in the country will be performing on Friday, May 19 in the Peebles Theatre at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News.
Tamica Washington-Miller is the Associate Director, Choreographer and only child of the founders of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Lula and Erwin Washington.
Tamica had no choice. She was born into dance.
She grew up in the dance studio, where her mother created stunning and emotional contemporary dance, reflecting African-American culture and history. The Washington’s mission is to bring this type of dance around the world. The second part of their mission, and just as important, is to give minority children an opportunity to learn dance as an art form through student outreach as they travel, and at their school close to downtown Los Angeles. The Lula Washington Dance Theatre has been successful for almost forty years.
Tamica’s first love, and “purpose to life,” is teaching children. She believes that there is a difference between art and entertainment. Entertainment is “two and a half minutes of tricks, fire and flames.” Art “scratches the soul, makes you think, feel, and moves you. Art can have many interpretations, because you bring yourself to the art.”
The Lula Washington Dance Theatre will be going into schools this week. Tamica wants children to “see and touch and feel the dancers.” She wants children to see that it possible, with hard work and dedication, to make a living as an artist.
She is also excited about Friday evening’s performance. There will be “drama and excitement, fun, hip and on fire dances.” Tamica and her husband, Marcus L. Miller, have collaborated on an original composition and dance entitled “In Search of Humanism.” To Tamica, it is “a dramatic statement piece about the most recent killings of young, black men.” To Marcus, “In Search of Humanism” is “what we go through when we’re looking for inner peace.” True art can be interpreted in many ways.
Marcus L. Miller is coming home to Norfolk for this Friday’s performance. He was born and raised here. Marcus was the first black student admitted to Norfolk Collegiate School when he was a first grader in 1976. He graduated from there in 1988 and went off to college to study finance. He was sitting in an Econ 101 class one morning at 8:00 am and “it didn’t go well.” That was the moment he realized that music was going to be his living.
The minute he graduated, he headed for California, because “the weather was great.” He had been playing drums since he was born. His mother got tired of him “playing with the good pots and pans.” He’s still playing and composing. He met Tamica while playing at the Lula Washington annual Kwanzaa show 20 years ago. They have been collaborating ever since.
Marcus has his own “Afro Fusion” group, the Marcus Miller Ensemble. He calls his music “world jazz.” They will be performing with the Lula Washington Dance Theatre this Friday night at the Peebles Theatre on the CNU campus. He says his Mom, Dad, Aunties and Uncles will be in the audience, cheering him on. He loves coming home to Hampton Roads.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to here.