Returns April 3 for its 15th Season with another superb documentary line-up and a new focus
AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is celebrating its landmark 15th season with a total immersion into the world of Black art and the creative and performing artists who create, shape and are impacted by them. It is the first time ever that the popular series is presenting an entire season that focuses on a single theme. This latest new season is a must-see as much for the presenters and producers keen co-production skills and acumen as it is for the richness of the on-screen gems each series segment presents to the viewers.
In their co-production of this season’s offerings, Black Public Media (BPM) and WORLD Channel appear to have worked to immerse viewers in a total experience. The seamless connection does not betray the uniqueness of each artist presented.
And the documentary starts include internationally recognized trailblazers and pioneers: choreographer/dancer/director Bill T. Jones, international recording star and activist Angélique Kidjo, visual artist Bill Traylor, traditional Mozambican dancer and storyteller Atanásio Nyusi, and iconic jazz musician Thelonious Monk.
The season premiere is the special presentation of Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters. It will stream exclusively on Black Public Media’s YouTube channel starting at midnight ET on Monday, April 3, and broadcast at 8:00 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel later that day. New episodes of the series, which is distributed and co-presented by American Public Television (APT), will premiere weekly on WORLD Channel through May 1.
It is a film that lives in the present where students grapple with learning choreographer Bill T. Jones’ tour deforce ballet “D-Man in the Waters,” one of the most important works of art to come out of the age of AIDS. It also transports the audience back to 1989, when the dance was created by Jones, as members of his Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company were themselves besieged by the AIDS pandemic.
Through the reminiscences of those who were there, the film explores the impact of the company’s loss of its beloved members. The current-day students work to connect with the history of the company and the AIDS crisis they weren’t alive for. And they struggle to master the intense physicality of the piece as they learn the healing power of art. Soon, they also face the formidable Artist himself, Jones, as he drops in to observe rehearsals and offer feedback. So the film unveils an experience and somehow brings you into it. Is that the secret to how the production team selects the Afropop presentations — choosing those that immerse the viewer?
Next week, series producer-director Denise A. Greene shares her thoughts on the process involved in selecting films for Afropop from the office to “spanning the globe to spotlight the power of Black art” for this season’s series.
“When we created AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange it was our hope that we would be able to bring stories of modern Black life to public media audiences and help augment viewers’ ideas of what Black life is and can be,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, BPM executive director and AfroPoP executive producer.