Meet Summer Stage's Danni Gee

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[The People Behind Summer Stage]

Ms. Danni Gee is the Curator of Dance at SummerStage, a summer festival of over 100 free dance performances throughout New York’s five boroughs, sponsored by the City Parks Foundation.

“Privately funded – publicly enjoyed”  is their motto.  For seven years, Ms. Gee performed as a principal dancer and soloist with the world renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  She said: “This was a dream come true.” 

She was also a principal dancer with the Philadelphia Dance Company. Danni Gee has sung as a backing vocalist for Cher, Gloria Gaynor, and Sister Sledge and has toured domestically and internationally. She has a rock band, Sugar Bush, for whom she writes music and lyrics. 

Sugar Bush recently appeared at the Blue Note in the Village.  Dance and music is in her bones – she comes from a musical family and studied all the musical disciplines while attending the Performing Arts School of Philadelphia.  Danni received a full scholarship to Temple University.

After an unfortunate hip injury, Danni had to leave Alvin Ailey. In 2006 she received a call from an old friend, Freedome Bradley, who told her that SummerStage was looking for a dance programmer. Although she had danced with SummerStage when she was with Alvin Ailey in 1993, Danni had never worked as a dance programmer.

Danni had just returned from touring and was looking for work.  She tried out for the position, and, as they say - the rest is history.  Danni Gee now curates the entire SummerStage dance series.

The SummerStage dance performances are free and the dancers are all professionals, with varying years of dance experience. SummerStage recently had a two-week run at Brooklyn’s Von King Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

When asked about emerging dancers, Danni suggests that we see Dance Grand Moultrie. 

Darrell Moultrie has choreographed for major dance companies all over the world, and it was Danni who suggested Darrell form his dance company. Moultrie premiered his company for the first time with SummerStage and shared the bill with Armitage Gone!  Dance and Special Musical Guest Vijay Iyer, on Friday, July 15th at Central Park/Mainstage.  Danni says, “He really is out of this world.” The New York Times said he’s “obviously someone to watch”.  If you miss this performance, look for Moultrie’s next performance. We know his new company is going places.

Danni goes on to say that, “An equally good emerging dance company is Camille A. Brown & Dancers.  Camille Brown has choreographed for Alvin Ailey and holds what is known as a ‘master dance class’, where, prior to performance, community people of all ages and genders, come out and dance on stage, most often with some of the dancers who will be performing.  It’s a lot of fun.”  Camille has performed with the renowned Ron Brown Dancers.  The next Coloring Movement Master Class with Camille A. Brown will be Saturday, August 13th at Marcus Garvey Park, Manhattan.

Dance Grand Moultrie and Camille A. Brown & Dancers can be found on Facebook.

A must mention is the first professional company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping – Step Afrika/Border Crossing Collective.  They fuse traditional dance with the stepping perfected by African American fraternities and sororities.  Learn the basics of stepping with members of Step Afrika at the Master Class on Saturday, August 20th at 7:00 pm at East River Park.  Stay to see the innovative dance performance which follows at 8:00.

Danni said, “We advertise in local papers, Twitter, Timeout magazine, and a week prior to performing , leaflets are given out in the various neighborhoods where we will be performing.  We also advertise on the radio.”  SummerStage is visible in the neighborhoods where they perform.
Danni had this to say about city cutbacks in programs in public schools and the affect on the performing arts, “A lot of these artists, especially emerging artists, are looking for opportunities to perform and will do outreach programs.  Schools could offer a small stipend or defray travel expenses. Many of these people may not have ever seen a live dance performance, will come out …initially they may giggle, but after a few minutes, you can see they love it.  These are high-quality performances…you never know who might want to become the next Jamison.”

Danni wants all New Yorkers to just come out and see the many layers and textures of dance, and enjoy these performances. 

For the full schedule of performances, visit See you at SummerStage!

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