Journey on the A Train: A Jacob Lawrence Story

May 8, 2024 at 7 PM

The Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University

Journey on the A Train: A Jacob Lawrence Story is an original dance performance created by poet Alice Lovelace and artistic director Dana Marie Lupton, in collaboration with Moving in the Spirit teaching artists and dancers ages 5-18.

Inspired by the life of extraordinary painter, Jacob Lawrence, Journey on the A Train shines a light on 13-year-old Jacob during the Harlem Renaissance as he ignites his artistic passion and pays tribute to the vibrant places, people, and artists who challenge him to create his unique voice.

Join us as dancers become bold tempera, choreographed with brushes of powerful history to create a stunning human canvas.

Featuring poetry by Alice Lovelace and narration by Malcolm Hasan Davis, with Nicholas Norwood and Chris Shepard portraying young Jacob Lawrence.

Ticket sales open on Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 10 AM and can be purchased online or by calling the Rialto Center at 404-413-9849.

A Special Farewell

Journey on the A Train marks Moving in the Spirit’s last performance under the artistic direction of beloved co-founder, Dana Marie Lupton.

Express your gratitude for her years of unparalleled creativity and leadership by attending this special performance. Trust us, you won’t want to miss this grand finale!


Behind the Scenes: Crafting our journey on the 'A' train

The spark for this work began three years ago, when Moving in the Spirit’s artistic director, teaching artists, dance students, and poet Alice Lovelace began exploring the captivating poetry and visual art in “Harlem,” a book by Walter Dean Myers and his son, Christopher Myers. 

Over the next two years, a collection of movements emerged, presenting themselves like patches of a quilt waiting to be stitched together.

As the creative process unfolded, we discovered “Jacob Makes a World,” another literary gem illustrated by Christopher Myers. This narrative chronicles the youthful aspirations of the renowned painter Jacob Lawrence as he finds his muse amidst the vibrant tapestry of Harlem.

The story of young Jacob’s life wove together the thematic threads of the dances we’d been crafting, connecting them much like the exciting new ‘A’ train connected Harlem to the heart of the city. This newfound synergy drove the rest of our work in the studio, culminating in Journey on the A Train: A Jacob Lawrence Story.

In this final iteration, audiences are invited to embark on a poignant voyage through time and space, where the essence of Harlem’s rich history converges with the boundless spirit of artistic expression.

Through dynamic choreography, stirring music, and heartfelt performances, we celebrate the indelible legacy of Jacob Lawrence and the enduring power of the human spirit.

Welcome aboard!

Graphic: J.D. Scott / Dorothy O’Connor. Background quilt: Mary Maynard.

About Jacob Lawrence:

"My belief is that it is most important for an artist to develop an approach and philosophy about life - if he has developed this philosophy, he does not put paint on canvas, he puts himself on canvas." - Jacob Lawrence

From the Smithsonian American Art Museum:

“The most widely acclaimed African American artist of this century, and one of only several whose works are included in standard survey books on American art, Jacob Lawrence has enjoyed a successful career for more than fifty years. Lawrence’s paintings portray the lives and struggles of African Americans, and have found wide audiences due to their abstract, colorful style and universality of subject matter. By the time he was thirty years old, Lawrence had been labeled as the “foremost Negro artist,” and since that time his career has been a series of extraordinary accomplishments. Moreover, Lawrence is one of the few painters of his generation who grew up in a black community, was taught primarily by black artists, and was influenced by black people.”

Read more!

Photo of Jacob Lawrence by Valente Alfredo, 1957, via Smithsonian Archives of American Art