Hillside High School will honor Broadway choreographer George Faison at its opening night gala for its production of “The Wiz” at 7 p.m. Friday.
Faison made history in 1975 when he became the first African American to win a Tony Award for Best Choreography for “The Wiz.” He began his career as a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. His Broadway career began with the musical “Purlie.” After leaving the Ailey Company he formed his own company, the George Faison Universal Dance Experience. He has also choreographed and staged concerts for musical greats including Ashford and Simpson, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, Dionne Warwick and Stephanie Mills.
Faison accepted an invitation to visit Hillside given by Drama Director Wendell Tabb as part of his “Celebrities in the Classroom” program.
“I am elated that Dr. Faison will visit Hillside to share his expertise and experiences with our students,” Hillside Principal Dr. William Logan said. “Mr. Tabb’s ‘Celebrities In The Classroom’ program has connected artists with our students and encouraged them to pursue their dreams of performing at the collegiate and professional levels.”
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Faison will work with students on Thursday and will be honored with the annual Trailblazer Award In The Arts during the Opening Night Gala Celebration.
In 2000 Faison and co-founder Tad Schnugg established The Faison Firehouse Theater, a 130-seat full service, digitally advanced performing arts and culture center. He also created The Firehouse Respect Project, a youth empowerment troupe for community outreach that continues today.
Hillside will also present its Distinguished Theatre Alumnus Award to Veronique McCrae, founder and executive director of The 1:10 Project, a nonprofit arts collective consisting of Act Trinity Creative Arts Services, V. Lash Productions and The 1:10 Project (originally established as Act Trinity Performing Arts Company in 2005).
The Community Ambassador Award will be given to the Hillside High School National Alumni Association for its support of the Hillside High School Theatre Program.