A Conversation Between Lil Buck and Keith Haring
April 23 2015
For one night only, Lil Buck, the Aspen Institute Arts Program’s Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence, will explore the dynamics of Keith Haring’s art and words as a vehicle that inspires his own movement. Following the performance, there will be an onstage discussion between Lil Buck, the Keith Haring Foundation Executive Director (and New Museum Trustee) Julia Gruen, and the Aspen Institute Arts Program Director Damian Woetzel, who also conceived and directed the performance.
A Conversation Between Lil Buck and Keith Haring was developed by Woetzel and the Aspen Institute Arts Program to coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Haring’s death in 1990. In collaboration with the Haring Foundation and Gruen, the project was workshopped in January 2015 at Haring’s former studio, which now functions as the Foundation’s New York City space. A version of the performance was then created for the closing weekend of the exhibition “Keith Haring: The Political Line” at San Francisco’s de Young Museum this past February. This performance at the New Museum marks the project’s New York City premiere.
Lil Buck began jookin‘—a street dance that originated in Memphis—at age thirteen. After receiving early hip-hop and ballet training on scholarship at the New Ballet Ensemble, he performed and choreographed in Memphis until relocating to Los Angeles in 2009. In 2011, Damian Woetzel paired Lil Buck with Yo-Yo Ma to perform a rendition of “The Swan” at an event in Los Angeles. The performance was captured in a video by Spike Jonze and went viral, garnering over 2.9 million views to date. That success opened the door to future collaborations with a broad range of renowned artists, from Janelle Monae to JR to the New York City Ballet to Madonna. Lil Buck was the 2011 artist in residence at the Vail International Dance Festival and also served as an artistic ambassador alongside Yo-Yo Ma at the US-China Forum on the Arts and Culture in Beijing, hosted by the Aspen Institute and the Asia Society. In 2013, he starred in the award-winning show Lil Buck @ (le) Poisson Rouge, which was directed by Woetzel and featured Ma and an assortment of other talented musicians. Lil Buck has also performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with Madonna during her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show and on her MDNA tour, and in the Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson: One. He was chosen as one of Dance Magazine‘s “25 to Watch” in 2012 and, two years later, was named the Wall Street Journal‘s 2014 Performing Arts Innovator. Selected as an Aspen Institute Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence in 2014, Lil Buck is a regular participant in Institute events promoting the role of the arts in education.