The arts return in full force this season. Just in time for Black History Month. It’s time to educate yourself through art, joy, conflict, film, dance, music and one Afro-futurist sci-fi narrative.
The Nicholas Brothers retrospective, online
Fayard and Harold Nicholas reinvented, redefined and refined dancing for the silver screen. Somewhere between acrobats and superheroes, the brothers strung together a series of routines for Twentieth Century-Fox musicals that shamed other icons — Fred Astaire cheered their staircase routine from “Stormy Weather” as the greatest dance sequence ever filmed (and he was probably right). This month the Criterion Channel has pulled together three of their best appearances with “Down Argentine Way,” “Sun Valley Serenade” and “Stormy Weather.” (criterionchannel.com)
“Summer of Soul” and “Love & Basketball,” various showings, Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
Questlove directed the documentary “Summer of Soul” about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, often called Black Woodstock, featuring downright stunning performances from B.B. King, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder. Writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Love & Basketball” abandoned sports cliches for a delicate, tender film about gender roles, romance, failure and compromise unlike anything that came before or after it. Check brattlefilm.org for showtimes.
40 Acres and A Slam, Feb. 5, online
Activist and writer DiDi Delgado hosts an online poetry slam to raise money for and awareness of the 40 Acres and A School initiative. An effort to create a farm that empowers Black people of marginalized genders and serves as a hub for Black arts, education and growth, the initiative hopes to build momentum through the talents of some of the slam scene’s brilliant performers. Want to lend a hand or rhyme? Poets can become part of the movement at tinyurl.com/PoetsFor40Acres.
“Young Nerds of Color,” Feb. 17 to March 20, Central Square Theater
Boston playwright Melinda Lopez stitched together outtakes from over 60 interviews with scientists from the most underrepresented backgrounds to create a story of geniuses hiding in plain sight. Laboring in labs, hunched over computers, and even making rock ’n’ roll, these nerds of color help solve the world’s most pressing problems. Rock hero Nona Hendryx (formerly of Labelle) composed the music, amplifying the vital narrative. (centralsquaretheater.org)
Dreaming Zenzile, Feb. 23 – 27, Robert J. Orchard Stage
Zenzile Miriam Makeba packed a lot into life. The South African icon was a singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador and civil rights activist. Pulling the enormity of Makeba’s life together, Grammy-nominated talent Somi Kakoma has created this tribute. It’s a powerful portrait of a powerful artist featuring a live jazz band playing original music and reinterpretations of Makeba’s deep catalog. (artsemerson.org)
“Accommodating Lie,” Feb. 26 & 27, Shubert Theatre
Sankofa Danzafro, with its seven dancers and musicians, has curated an evening that will destroy stereotypes and cliches about the Black body. The Colombian dance company adds live drums, flute, marimba and vocals into a program looking at the racial history of Colombia and the United States. (celebrityseries.org)