Kayla Farrish in “On the Sunny Side of the Street”

November 5, 2020

Yes, it’s another dance in a living room. But that living room was Louis Armstrong’s. And dancer Kayla Farrish brightens it right up with her movement as she channels not only Armstrong’s music, but also his spirit with her sly shoulder shrugs, luscious jumps and développés, and stylish struts.

“On the Sunny Side of the Street” is presented by the Louis Armstrong House Museum as part of its Armstrong Now! program, which commissioned four groups of Black artists to each create a short film. Others in the series feature choreographer Martha Nichols and Broadway’s Daniel J. Watts.

This is a scene from Farrish’s larger Armstrong Now! project called “Inside the Laughing Barrel,” for which she worked alongside writer/poet Naomi Extra and flutist Melanie Charles. Farrish writes in the YouTube description: “When I first played this song I couldn’t get it out of my head. Louis began grandly on the horn and the words struck me. I wanted to create an intimacy with Louis and an embodied character that represented all of the layers: grit, craft, soul, trauma and magic of his spirit and Black people. A tribute to the layers of pointing your feet towards the ‘sunny side of the street’ and understanding the meaning of that perspective.”