Groundbreaking Performance This Weekend
Local pastors and community leaders Charles Briscoe and Stan Archie attended Storling Dance Theater’s popular production of “Underground” in recent years and they’re still moved by what they experienced.
With the production set to take the stage again at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7-8, 2014 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., the two men are urging other Kansas City residents to experience it for themselves.
“I thought it was a very unique way of expressing a very significant and emotional time in African American history and American history,” said Stan Archie, senior pastor at Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., member of the Missouri State Board of Education and president of the Kansas City Leadership Foundation. “People need to see this.”
The two leaders added that the message of “Underground,” and the history it portrays, are still relevant today.
“It is still relevant today, because so many young people were born after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and some of them don’t really know of the struggle,” said Briscoe, long-time pastor of Paseo Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., who also serves as part-time urban director for PastorServe and is a former adjunct professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“It’s good for them to have that historical perspective and see that struggle. The dance itself is worth seeing, but the message really makes a difference.”
Archie said the piece is unifying, which also is important today.
“I think it presented how significantly important it is to fight for causes that are just, and it expresses the human desire to do what’s right and see done what’s right today,” he said. “That’s a relevant need.”
Based on true stories from the Underground Railroad, Storling Dance Theater’s production tells the story of how two women’s lives intersect on the road to freedom and righteousness.
“One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to forget the significance of our history,” Archie said. “You have to look back at the foundation we take for granted. What we have now, whether your white or black, you then start realizing, man, we’ve come a long way.”
Briscoe said “Underground,” in its own powerful way, helps heal society’s wounds as a result of the struggle for equality.
“I believe that each of us have been influenced by the culture of the past and somehow we need to be freed from that influence,” Briscoe said. “I think this helps do that.”
Archie said Storling Dance Theater brings something special to the performance.
“The young talent being used is also a powerful message as well,” Archie said. “They express a passion and commitment beyond just performance. They seem to be a really genuine to their expression.”
Briscoe added that he urges people to see the performance and promises it will change them if they do.
“If I had the money, I would see that it got to every major city in America,” he said. “It is worth seeing.”
Tickets are $75, $35 and $20, and are available by calling (816) 994-7222 or www.kauffmancenter.org. Launched in 1996, Storling Dance Theater is Kansas City’s emerging neo-classical dance company. In addition to its local performances, the group has toured the United States, Canada and Central Asia. Storling Dance Theater is in residence at The Culture House, one of Kansas City’s premiere arts centers located in Olathe, Kan. For more information visit www.storlingdance.org.