In the heart of West Philadelphia, Iquail Shaheed gathered nine teenagers throughout the last year to listen to their stories about addiction and their need for validation. The stories and experiences of the youth became the impetus to create the World Premiere of PUSHERS. This new work runs November 11-14 at the Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street. Tickets cost $25-$30. Tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2272768.
PUSHERS, a new Dance Theater work choreographed and directed by Iquail Shaheed, is a cathartic journey of identity, public image, and aspiration. This new piece examines addiction and its consequences. Created by Iquail Shaheed and his company using the stories of the nine youth from the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia as a jumping off point, this new work uses Shaheed’s athletic yet fluid style to convey the voids we fill through addictions of all kinds and our society’s constant need for validation. This new work is accompanied by original poetry by New York City-based story teller Daniel Carlton and music by composer Charles Vincent Burwell. The piece explores addictions of all kinds, from substance abuse to social media and a need to get likes.
Shaheed chooses to work with youth in his native neighborhood of West Philadelphia to let them know there is a way out. He grew up in Mantua and is a graduate of Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts High School. He has been personally affected by addiction — losing both parents to it.
“I set out to explore this topic because of the connection. I have lived in the shoes of these kids and I want them to see the road out of their neighborhood. It is my hope that by honest dialogue about the issues of addiction, we can help them shine a mirror to their own lives and give them the tools to change their lives and ultimately their neighborhood little by little,” said Shaheed.
His dancers include: Adryan Moorefield, Britney Sandifer, Joe Gonzalez, Nyasha James-Davis, Miles Yueng- Tieu, Keila Perez-Vega, Brionna Williams, Jahmeek Williams, and Roxanne Lyst.
“I believe that art should reflect life. Audiences should expect to see a little of themselves on stage. They should leave the theatre thinking about the things they need in life to feel validated and where their “pushers” are,” he finished.
About Iquail Shaheed
Iquail Shaheed is the founder and executive artistic director of DANCE IQUAIL!. As a native of Philadelphia, Iquail was trained at the age of thirteen upon acceptance to the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. He furthered his dance studies with the Philadelphia Dance Company’s (PHILADANCO) “Training & Instruction” program. While at PHILADANCO, he became a senior member of Danco II, under the tutelage of Donald T. Lunsford II.
Subsequently, Shaheed has earned scholarships to The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, The Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance, the Paul Taylor School, The Juilliard School, Jacob’s Pillow, Pennsylvania Ballet and International Ballet Theatre Schools, among many others. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ballet Performance from the University of the Arts, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Purchase College – SUNY. As a professional dancer, Iquail has worked with internationally acclaimed companies such as Compagnie Thor (Brussels), The Sean Curran Company, Ronald K Brown/ Evidence, and The Fred Benjamin Dance Company. He has also appeared in various Broadway productions including Hot Feet, The Lion King, and Purlie, in addition to stints on Film, Television and Print. As a teacher, Shaheed’s style is pulled from his passion and commitment to preserving the Horton Technique. Currently Mr. Shaheed is on faculty at The Ailey School, Steps on Broadway, and Harlem School for the Arts. He has taught at Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet School, Centre Stage, the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts High School, and Purchase College – SUNY. Additionally he enjoys frequent teaching engagements for master classes touring extensively throughout Europe, Africa, North American, and the Caribbean.
Over the years, he has been awarded for his many achievements including Lower Manhattan Cultural Council grant awards, The Caroline H. Newhouse Award, The Suzanne and Larry Engman Second Place Award, The Philadelphia Dance Award (Rocky), The Marion D. Cuyjet Award, NAACP ACT-SO National Silver Medal, and The Promising Artist Award.
About Dance Iquail
Dance Iquail uses the art of dance as a conduit for combating issues of social injustice primarily experienced by the disadvantaged. Working in the universal language of movement, DIQ is committed to creating and presenting programs that confront the destructive and divisive nature of racism, sexism, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, the needs of the poor, and the importance of family support and unity. These debilitating problems affect all people because they transcend limitations of ethnicity, gender, or social status. Consequently, DIQ’s ultimate priority is to reflect those beliefs through its works, and through the diversity of its staff, on and off-stage.
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