Program Notes for The Meaning of Buck Dance

20 Sep

For those watching the webcast or archival footage of The meaning of buck dance, here are the program notes. To view the archived footage of the show, click here.


Thursday, September 19, and Friday, September 20, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts




Urban Artistry with

Good Foot Dance Company and

Baakari Wilder



The Meaning of Buck Dance

A 2013 Local Dance Commissioning Project Premiere




Vintage Blues Breakdown

Clip: “three street teens” also “vintage blues breakdown” also “Pickaninny Dance” from “The Passing Show”

(Crazy Feet 491.4, Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection)

Used with Permission of Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection, National Museum for American History, Smithsonian Institution

Performers: Joe Rastus, Denny Toliver, Walter Wilkins

Filmed by: William Heise for Thomas Edison October 6, 1894 at Edison Black Maria Studio in West Orange, New Jersey; 50 foot kinetoscope


Live Performers: Baakari Wilder, Russell Campbell, Junious Brickhouse (extended solo)

Sound: Matthew Olwell on hands and feet, Jabari Exum on djembe


Note: Constance Valis Hill’s Tap Dancing America (2010) calls this clip, “probably the earliest example of buck dancing on film” and these performers “the first African Americans to appear before a motion picture camera” (p.23).



Choreographers/Performers: Matthew Olwell & Baakari Wilder (extended solo)

Sound: Danny Knicely on fiddle, Jabari Exum on percussion

“Flathoofin” – an original combination of traditional

tunes “Betty Baker” and “Dinah”





Choreographer/Performer:  Russell Campbell

Sound: Matthew Olwell on hands and feet, Jabari Exum on djembe

in dedication to Vincent L Campbell Sr.


Memphis Jookin

Choreographer/Performer: Ryan Webb

Text: Ryan Webb

Sound: various artists

Gangsta Walkin– “Git Buck” – DJ Spanish Fly

            Jookin –– “Da Summa” – Three 6 Mafia

            Chopping –– “yeah, yeah” by lutinent G

            Buckin – “Buck Gangsta Beat” – Juicy J


Appalachian Clogging/Flatfooting

Choreographer: Matthew Olwell

Performers: Matthew Olwell & Emily Oleson

Text: Emily Oleson

Sound: Danny Knicely on fiddle, “Altimont” – traditional



Choreographers/Performers: Ryan Webb & Emily Oleson

Sound: “Trap Music 1” – Kings



Choreographers/Performers: Baakari Wilder & Russell Campbell

Sound: “Old Castle” edit – Ray Barretto


The House That Jack Built

Choreographer/Performer: Junious Brickhouse

Video: Megan Keefe

Sound: “My House” by Chuck Roberts

“My Beat” by Blaze, featuring Palmer Brown


Choreographer’s Note: dedicated to Lynda Brickhouse

The House That Jack Built was premiered in February 2010 as part of a collaboration ORIGINS: One Heartbeat between Urban Artistry, Coyaba Dance Theater, and Capitol Tap, for the Intersections Festival at the Atlas Theater in Washington, D.C., and supported in part by a Montgomery County Arts Council Grant to appear at The Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring in May 2011.


Talking Feet (film excerpt)

Used with permission of Smithsonian Folkways recordings

Performers: Fris Holloway, Algia Mae Hinton, John Dee Holeman

Produced 1985-1991 by Mike Seeger and Ruth Pershing

DVD copyright 2006 Smithsonian Folkways, Washington, D.C.


Buck Dance?

Choreographer: Matthew Olwell

Performers: Matthew Olwell & Emily Oleson


Vintage Blues Breakdown Reprise

Voiceovers: Ira Bernstein, Nic Gareiss, Emily Oleson, Baakari Wilder,

Russell Campbell


Getting Buck

Choreographer: Junious Brickhouse

Performers: Junious Brickhouse, Baakari Wilder, Matthew Olwell, Russell Campbell, Emily Oleson, Ryan Webb

Sound: “Green Garden” – Laura Mvula remixed by DJ Baronhawk Poitier, edited by Russell Campbell


Lighting Design by Paul Jackson



Urban Artistry, Inc. is an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation and preservation of art forms inspired by the urban experience. Becoming cultural ambassadors for communities that are often unsung, the group fulfills their mission through effective collaborations that support artists past and present. Founded by Junious “House” Brickhouse in 2005 with a small group of friends in the Washington, D.C. metro area, their dedication to cultural preservation, authenticity, and professionalism fostered a community of artists who share a global perspective on the creative culture within urban spaces. The group’s desire to collaborate led to the development of their international education programs, festival events, and theater productions. Urban Artistry is a recipient of the Kennedy Center’s 2013 Local Dance Commissioning Project. Learn more about the company at


Good Foot Dance Company explores the complex cultural twinings of the root-system of American Vernacular Dance, from Appalachian flatfooting, to tap, to contemporary urban dance.  The company members, Matthew Olwell, Emily Oleson, and Meg Madden began working together in 2004, and perform and teach at festivals, theaters, schools, arts carnivals, and camps, and enjoy raising questions about connectivity, continuity, and social responsibility.  Good Foot performance highlights include the Performatica festival in Cholula, Mexico, The Wheatland Music Festival, The Newport Folk Festival (as the Seeger Clogging All-Stars), Dance Place in Washington, D.C., A Charlottesville Wunderkammer, and Shentai, and guest artist appearances with The Chieftains, Lunasa, and most recently The Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Good Foot brings to the floor over 30 years of combined experience as advocates of dance culture.


Baakari Wilder is internationally known for starring in the Broadway musical Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk. He received a Bessie Award for his performance, and later assumed the lead role for a year. He has appeared as a guest performer on So You Think You Can Dance, Discovery Channel’s Time Warp, and appeared in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. Baakari is currently the Assistant Artistic Director of the Washington, D.C.-based company Capitol Tap.



About the Artists

Emily Oleson (director) became an artistic director of Urban Artistry in 2012, and co-founded Good Foot Dance Company with Matthew Olwell and Meg Madden in 2005, after earning her BA in dance at James Madison University.  Pursuing a path as a crossover artist, she has had the privilege of studying many different dance styles with many, many fine teachers; her most recent mentors include tap historian Ann Kilkelly and members of Urban Artistry.  She has performed in community dance projects with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, PEARSONWIDRIG Dance Theater, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, and also is grateful for the instruction of the faculty at University of Maryland, College Park, where she completed her MFA in dance.  Oleson is pioneering a new undergraduate dance major in American Vernacular Dance at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia. For more information, visit


Junious “House” Brickhouse, executive director and founder of Urban Artistry, is an award-winning educator, performer, choreographer, and community leader who began his dance journey in the Atlanta and Washington, D.C. underground dance scenes.  Originally from Virginia Beach, Junious was taught social dances of the period by family members, a substitute for recreational programs that were often expensive and unattainable to the underprivileged. Fortunately, the funk music culture of 1970’s provided a template of personal acceptance and expression that made social dancing carefree, community-oriented, and free to anyone with a radio. Through family traditions and support, Junious was able to make a commitment to dance and community service at a young age. As a teenager, Junious became a regular in the underground dance scene and recognized that the artists in these communities were driven by creativity and continuation of culture. Through these experiences, he soon mastered the Hip Hop, House Dance, B-Boying, Popping, Locking, Tap, Waacking, Vogue, and West African Dance styles that were being celebrated by so many in these cultures. These early experiences are reflected in the way Junious has structured Urban Artistry as an accepting, collaborative, and accessible community, and in his lifelong commitment to share urban dance culture with underserved communities from Southeast D.C.’s ward 7 to South Africa to Finland. 


In 1997 he moved to Europe where he received mentorship from Denmark’s Special FX (Out of Control) and Scotty76 of the Assassins Crew in Germany.  Brickhouse began building in all dance styles and later joined the Assassins Crew and began entering and winning various competitions.  Returning to the States, Brickhouse went on to become an ambassador for urban dance culture and founded the award-winning Urban Artistry Dance Company.  He was named a Master Instructor by the Maryland Historic Trust and was awarded the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in 2010. Brickhouse’s work has been seen in local venues like the Kennedy Center, Sidney Harman Hall, and the Performing Arts Center at Strathmore.


Russell “Ironman” Campbell is a film-maker and Artistic Director for Urban Artistry where he is the top instructor for youth in b-boying (also known as break dancing).  He has competed in local and international battles for over 15 years, is the floor captain for Counter Attack Breakers Crew [CAB Crew], and was a featured judge for Chelles Battle Pro qualifier in Stuttgart, Germany in 2011.  Growing up in Silver Spring, Maryland, he always had a passion for dance, film, music, culture, and community.  He studied music with his father Vincent L. Campbell Sr., and plays more than 6 musical instruments including piano, saxophone, and bassoon. As DJ Mate Masie he has played at many local venues such as Eighteenth Street Lounge, Tropicalia, and the U Street Music Hall, and internationally in Bulgaria where he also taught breaking in 2010.  Russell is a gifted teacher and pursues many styles to make his dancing musical, well-rounded, and diverse.  His goal is to show others a freedom of expression that will help make dance a safe environment for everyone.  He is grateful to Junious Brickhouse, the executive director and founder of Urban Artistry, who has been a true mentor since 2005.  Russell’s many professional highlights include dancing with the Washington Wizards for three years, creating a tribute film for Vivian Malone (the first student to racially integrate the University of Alabama), and winning Rep Your Styles for House Dance in 2013.  


Matthew Olwell, co-founding member and lead choreographer for Good Foot Dance Company, has been a professional dancer and musician since 1996. Olwell’s career has included appearances with Uncle Earl, Corey Harris, Tim O’Brien, and Bassekou Kouyate, Eileen Ivers’s Beyond the Bog Road, Song of the Mountains for PBS with James Leva, and the London production of Riverdance with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble. He was a student at The  School at Jacob’s Pillow’s first ever Tap Program, and his mentors and teachers include Donny Golden, Eileen Carson, The Fiddle Puppets, Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, Baakari Wilder, and Dianne Walker through The School at Jacob’s Pillow.  Olwell is the coordinator of the Augusta Heritage Center’s American Vernacular Dance Week.

More information can be found at


Ryan Webb began as a solo artist dancing out of northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. It was here that his teaching and performance career began at local studios, community centers, and various churches. While attending Christopher Newport and Cal State University of Fullerton, he founded multiple dance clubs that are still in progress today. Ryan moved to California in August of 2005 and graduated out of California State at Fullerton in 2008. During this time period he was the winner of numerous popping competitions, some of which include Street Skillz, Undadog in Los Angeles, and Juste Debout in Paris, France. In 2008, Ryan joined the Assassins Crew and Urban Artistry. It was here that he learned the importance of culture and the history behind the dances that he does. Recently, his dance career has brought him to various countries for work, and he has taught, performed, competed, and judged in Korea, Japan, Sweden, England, Germany, Canada, and Denmark, to name a few.


Jabari Exum, percussionist, emcee, poet, actor, director, and entrepreneur, is an electrifying artist born and raised in Washington, D.C. He is a skilled percussionist in the West African and Latin Tradition and is a prolific writer and performer in the world of Hip-Hop. Since 1997 Jabari has also become a pioneering artist in a movement called, “Hip-Hop Theater.  He has been acting, drumming, and rapping since he was 2 years old and has been blessed with the opportunities to receive guidance from legendary artists such as Stevie Wonder, Mamady Keita, Djimo Kouyate, KRS-One, Sonya Sanchez, and Glen Turner.  Jabari Exum is presently a member Hueman Prophets (Hip-Hop theater duo), Farafina Kan (West African percussion orchestra), and Hip-Hop Pantsula (a South African Hip-Hop pioneer).


Danny Knicely is a multi-talented musician, music producer and film-maker from Virginia. He has used his roots in old-time and bluegrass to explore many musical styles from Irish, Jazz and Latin, to the various types of music he encountered while performing and studying music in India, Nepal, Tibet, and China. As a multi-instrumentalist, Danny has won many awards for his mandolin, guitar, and fiddle expertise, including first place in the mandolin contest at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival. He has years of experience performing in many bands and has recorded and toured nationally and internationally with groups such as the award winning Magraw Gap, Furnace Mountain, Corn Tornado, Purgatory Mountain, and a multi-cultural dance troupe called Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble. He has also performed with Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Vassar Clements, Tony Rice, Mac Wiseman, Tim O’Brien, Michelle Shocked, Sam Bush, Col. Bruce Hampton, Larry Keel, Robin and Linda Williams, Daryl Anger, Corey Harris, Bassekou Kouyate, Jeff Coffin, and Adrian Belew. Danny also teaches, presents concerts, produces CDs and, recently, produced the film “The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya.”




The 2013 Local Dance Commissioning Project


Sarah Ewing- September 5 and 6, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

Urban Artistry- September 19 and 20, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.


The Local Dance Commissioning Project was created by the Kennedy Center in 2001 to foster new works by local dance artists. The project annually provides funds for each choreographer to create a new piece, a venue to show the work, as well as rehearsal space and technical assistance. The project nurtures the creation of new work in dance and presents these artists to the widest possible audience on the Millennium Stage.


Past Kennedy Center Commission Awardees:

2001 – Deborah Riley, Ed Tyler, Nilimma Devi

2002 – Tiempo de Tango, Helanius J. Wilkins, Nejla Yatkin

2003 – Jason Hartley with Ed Tyler, Laurel Victoria Gray, Boris Willis

2004 – Naoko Maeshiba, Vladimir Angelov, Sharon Mansur

2005 – Meisha Bosma, Daniel Burkholder, Ludovic Jolivet

2006 – Francesca Jandasek, Helanius J. Wilkins, Asha Vattikuti

2007 – Gesel Mason, Princess Mhoon Cooper, Aysha Upchurch

2008 – Karen Reedy, Vincent Thomas, Cassie Meador

2009 – Jason Garcia Ignacio, Tehreema Mitha

2010 – Angela Foster, Stephen Clapp & Laura Schandelmeier, Mary Lane

2011 – Sarah Levitt & Ben Wegman, Kimmie Dobbs Chan & Enoch Chan, Erica Rebollar

2012 – Company E, Sydney Skybetter


The Local Dance Commissioning Project would like to acknowledge and thank Dance Place for ensuring a life for each work beyond its premiere on the Millennium Stage.


The Local Dance Commissioning Project and the Kennedy Center’s Dance Programming Office would also like to thank Andre Barette, Owen Burke, the Performing Arts for Everyone team and, of course, our talented artists for their hard work and dedication to this project. We would also like to acknowledge and thank the 2013 Local Dance Commissioning Project Mentors: Kimmie Dobbs Chan, Enoch Chan, and Aysha Upchurch.


Submissions for the 2014 Local Dance Commissioning Project are being accepted now through Friday, December 13, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.


For more information, please visit





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