NECS presents Melanin Magic! This year we will take high school students on a journey to educate, empower and build community. In a time of racial unrest, strength and resilience comes from knowing our history. Students will explore African and African American history, anthropology, and sociology to educate our students about our past. The play will focus on educating and uplifting students through song, dance, and spoken word and more. The production will highlight the survival and resilience of people of color and celebrate our common humanity.
NECS Creative Team:
Jodi Fernandez | Artistic Director, Instructor
Leslie Fields Cruz | Artistic Director, Producer
Susan Cody | Music Director
Belle Torres | Dance Director
Ridvan Foxhall | Creative Director, Producer
Jodi Fernandez is a passionate educator, creator and director who began teaching at Peekskill High School in 2007. That summer, Jodi rewrote the curriculum for the course, African Diaspora, to reflect the anthropological, cultural, and social histories of the descendants of the first modern humans. In 2015, Jodi’s course was accepted as an accredited college course through SUNY Albany’s “University in the High School” program at PHS. For the past three years Jodi has written, created, and directed her SUNY Albany African Diaspora students in “edu-tainment” performances—Black Lives Matter (2018), Rise Up (2019) and Melanin Magic (2020). Jodi holds a BA in Communications, an MA in English, and a MS in Adolescent Education. One of Jodi’s greatest passions is helping children hone their artistic gifts and using those gifts as a vehicle for social justice. “Edutainment is Scholarship for the Soul”—Jodi Fernandez
Leslie Fields-Cruz has directed several youth theater shows including “Show Way”, “Henry Box Brown“, “Respect” , and “Change Reaction” with New Era Creative Space (NECS), and “Once on This Island”, “Grease”, and “Best Friends” with City Lights Youth Theater. When she is not playmaking at NECS, Leslie is the Executive Director of Black Public Media, a non-profit media arts organization that has funded awarded winning documentary films such as “I Am not Your Negro” and “180 Days: Inside an American High School”. Leslie is also the Executive Producer of the PBS series “AfroPOP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange”. She serves on the board of New York Women in Film & Television and lives in Cortlandt Manor with her family. In her down time…does she really have any? Leslie can be found watching sci-fi tv and movies, especially Star Wars.