Mansa K. Mussa
In September 1978, two young dancers met in the Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers University in Newark. Alfred Gallman was the director and choreographer of The Newark Youth Ensemble. At the time, it was a new dance performing troupe under the auspices of the Garden State Ballet. The dancers in this group would later form the core of what would become Gallman’s Newark Dance Theater. Gallman’s Newark-trained dancers would go on to perform with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Dance Theater of Harlem, The Paul Taylor Dance Company, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. Mansa K. Mussa, the other young dancer, was also a dance photographer. He took photographs of the performance that afternoon, and he would continue to document Gallman’s professional and school companies for the next forty years.
Precious Memories is the title of Gallman’s most popular and highly acclaimed ballet. It is also the title of a documentary that chronicles the history of Gallman’s Newark Dance Theater through photographs, collages, shadow boxes, and iPadology digital images created during the pandemic photographs.
On Thursday, October 21, 2021, the African American Cultural Committee of the Montclair Art Museum presented “Precious Memories: How They Linger.” The program was a celebration of dance and a conversation between Gallman’s Newark Dance Theater’s Founder and Artistic Director Alfred Gallman and Artist/Photographer Mansa K. Mussa. The principal point of the conversation was a discussion about the creation of Precious Memories and how the collaboration between the two dance artists contributed to an ongoing legacy about dance, photography, art, and community.