Actor and longtime gay rights and AIDS activist Michael “Micci” Sainte-Andress was honored on Saturday night, April 16, by the world premiere of a ballet created for him by choreographer Shawn Short, founder and producing artistic director of D.C.’s Dissonance Dance Theatre.
With nearly 100 people in the audience at the Jack Guidone Theater on Wisconsin Avenue in the city’s Friendship Heights section, where Dissonance holds its performances, Short called Sainte-Andress a mentor and inspiration for his work.
Short said the ballet he created for Sainte-Andress, named “Micci,” is part of the Dissonance Dance Theatre’s Black to Silver series of performances, which the group describes as a “multidisciplinary arts production that examines and explores interpersonal relationships, identity and love within the African-American LGBT community.”
“Micci has been a collaborative part of the Black to Silver production series for several years now,” he said in a statement. “I have been inspired by his strength, tenacity and sheer will.”
The Micci ballet was one of nine short ballets that the cast of Dissonance Dance Theatre performed during the tribute to Sainte Andress.
Dr. Imani Woody, the LGBT seniors advocate and founder of the soon-to-open D.C. LGBT seniors home Mary’s House, recounted Sainte-Andress’ long and varied work in the D.C. community, including his service on the city’s Civilian Police Review Board and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Planning Council.
Sainte-Andress thanked Short for what he called groundbreaking and innovative dance performances that provide important insight for the African-American LGBT community as well as the community at large.
The Micci ballet was performed by Dissonance dancers Momo Sakai, Shannon Evans, Jessica Potts, William Wilson, Damon Foster, and Daniel Artist. The music to which they danced was by Nina Simone singing “My Way.”
“Everybody knows ‘My Way,’ Short told the Washington Blade. “And Micci did it his way,” he said in discussing Sainte-Andress’ distinguished and colorful career and life. “So this was perfect.”