Arthur W. Brown, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission
US Embassy Santo Domingo
Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel Performance Group
Presentation, “Afrocentric Roots in American Dance”
Centro Cultural León Jiménez
Santiago de los Caballeros
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Honorable Director of Community Relations of Centro Cultural León Jiménez, Mr. Carlos Andújar;
Distinguished Artistic Director of Fist and Heel Performance Group, Reggie Wilson;
Distinguished guests, artists, and friends;
Good evening, everyone.
I am delighted to join you this evening. Although I am currently serving as Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy, full time I am the Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
My family and I arrived in the country last August, and we are very happy to be here in the Dominican Republic. This is my second visit to Santiago, and each time I like this city more.
I am honored to introduce Reggie Wilson, artistic director and choreographer of the Fist and Heel Performance Group, for a discussion about African influence on American dance, and also to extend a warm welcome to the Fist and Heel Performance Group, on their first visit to the Dominican Republic and to Santiago.
Every February in the United States, we commemorate Black History Month, through which we honor the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history and culture. This evening, we celebrate Black History Month through the arts.
With every program, we gain new partners and friends. I would like to give a special thanks to Cultural Center León Jiménez, the Cultural Center of the Ministry of Culture, the Domínico-American Cultural Center, and all of the collaborators who made the visit of Reggie Wilson’s team to Santiago a success.
The Fist and Heel Performance Group joins us through the Department of State’s DanceMotion USA program, which strives to connect the United States’ finest dance companies with international artists and communities. DanceMotion is sponsored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a multi-arts center located in Brooklyn, New York, that has been showcasing the work of artists for more than 150 years.
The choreography of Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel performance group is known for its expression of the spiritual traditions of Africa and its diaspora, particularly drawing from elements of the cultures of Africans in the Americas.
Reggie has earned numerous accolades in his career as an artist. He is a recipient of the 2009 Herb Alpert Award in Dance and was named a U.S. Artists Prudential Fellow in recognition of his creative contributions to dance. He was also a Guggenheim Fellow in 2002 and received the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in 2012.
I had the pleasure of seeing an example of the group’s talent in a demonstration last night, so I look forward to hearing more about the artistic inspiration for some of the group’s innovative choreography. Again, let’s extend a warm welcome to Reggie Wilson!