Memphis dance legend Charles “Lil Buck” Riley will perform with his company at the Staller Center for the Arts in a performance that is offering discounted tickets to help celebrate Black History Month.
“Memphis Jookin’: The Show, Powered by Nike,” will take place Saturday, February 4, on the Staller Center Main Stage at 8 pm. For 50 percent off tickets, use code STALLER23 at checkout. Tickets can be purchased here. Stony Brook University students can receive free tickets and RSVP on sbengaged.
Memphis Jookin’ was conceived and choreographed by Lil Buck as an ode to his hometown and the dance that started it all. The show takes its audience on a journey to the emergence of the art form from street dance to global anomaly. It’s ultimately his love letter to both Memphis and to Jookin’ and that love shines through. The New York Times said: “While his agile physical instrument is astounding, Buck’s power derives from the ability to get to the bottom of what something feels like for him and then to express it to the world.”
“I strongly believe dance has its own power,” Buck said. “It’s not for background. I believe you can be just as entertained by watching dancers without other artists in front of them.”
Over the course of his career, Buck has performed and collaborated with artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Cirque du Soleil, Madonna and Lizzo, to name a few. In 2017, Buck gained sponsorship for Nike Air’s VaporMax shoes — the style of shoes that “Jookers” have historically worn while dancing. Born from the Memphis street dance “Gangsta Walking,” jookin’ requires heavy emphasis on footwork and body rhythm, including movements like toe stalls, ankle breaks and glides.
Buck is featured in the first episode of the Netflix docuseries, Move. He recently teamed up with media personality Kendall Jenner for Stuart Weitzman’s “Boot Camp” campaign, which celebrates movement as a source of power for all genders. In 2016, Buck released Color of Reality, a short film he co-created with choreographer Jon Boogz and painter Alexa Meade. The film was created in direct response to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, exploring themes of protest, police brutality and racial inequality.
Lil Buck began to dance around the age of 6, unable to resist grooving to the sounds of a church choir. That moment is reimagined in his short film, Nobody Knows. In the video, voices of a choir fill a shadowy church, propeling Buck to explore the struggles of being a Black man in America through his movements: “There are things I’ve experienced in life that are hard for me to verbally speak about,” he writes about the film. “Things that can’t be said through words can be expressed and felt through movement and music…from the global pandemic to the social injustices of Black Lives in America…with so much trauma in the world and in our lives, we all need something to help us heal.”