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Debbie Allen takes socially conscious dance drama on the road

September 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Director and choreographer Debbie Allen is taking a talented group of performers from her dance academy in Baldwin Hills to Brisbane, Australia for the world premiere of an original dance drama.

Debbie Allen uses what she knows best, the arts, to help shine a light on the trials and tribulations often faced by young people today.

"I was always devastated by the tragic loss of life in the community and mistaken identity, gun violence, domestic violence," says Allen. "It was just hurtful to me, it was hurtful to my spirit."

So with that came the inspiration her new work, "Freeze Frame." It's Allen's hope to show that art, dance and music can transform lives, and maybe one day break the cycle of violence.

"I wanted to give a face and a voice to the young people in the inner city who are faced with so many challenges and who never get to speak for themselves, don't get enough opportunity, don't get enough education," says Allen. "What the show is about is about possibility that things can change, and that the arts is the greatest connect in the world."

"Freeze Frame" features a cast of all ages, many of whom will be performing internationally for the first time. The piece uses dance, film, art and music to raise the question: "How can we stop the madness?"

"It's something that definitely needs to be talked about because it just happens every day here," says Cathie Nicholas, Debbie Allen Dance Academy. "I mean there are helicopters circling us an hour ago, right now, you know. It needs to be talked about and brought to everyone's attention."

Cast members have their own hopes about what people might take away from the performance.

"Not to judge somebody by what's surface, it's an introspective look at the lives of inner-city kids," says Vivian Dixon, Debbie Allen Dance Academy. "'Don't judge a book by its cover,' is kind of a theme."

"We're people, everybody, it's not about color, it's not about race, it's not about creed. Everybody's here. We're all trying to live the same life," says Dion Watson, Debbie Allen Dance Academy. "We all need to work together, come together and just work as one."

As soon as Debbie Allen gets home from Australia, she'll get right back to work on her "other" day job on "Grey's Anatomy." Along with returning to her role as Dr. Catherine Avery, she'll also be directing another episode of "Grey's," her tenth. Later this year she'll also direct an episode of "Scandal."


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