The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The Bluegrass Youth Ballet will host its inaugural Summer Solstice Soiree to raise funds to expand community outreach and tuition assistance programs for the school. The event, June 23 at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate, 120 Sycamore Drive, will include live music by Alma Gitana, dinner by Dupree Catering and Events, a performance by BYB dancers, an auction and dancing.
The Bluegrass Youth Ballet, founded and directed by former Lexington Ballet and Kentucky Ballet Theatre dancer Adalhi Aranda Corn, is entering its 10th season.
Tickets for the Summer Solstice Soiree are $50 and available by emailing email@example.com.
To most of us, fall arts means getting out in the crisp weather to attend shows and visit galleries at the time of year when creativity seems to be bursting forth like the colors on autumn leaves.
And live is generally the best way to experience the arts.
But PBS is making a decent case for staying in, or at least DVRing its Fall Arts Festival, which continues tonight, Oct. 28, with Great Performances’ presentation of the Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp showing nationally at 9 p.m. and here in Central Kentucky at 10 p.m. on KET and 8 p.m. Weds., Nov. 2, on KET2 (there are also DVR-friendly showings at 2 a.m. Oct. 29 and 4 a.m. Oct. 31). The season as a whole is diverse with operetta, rock ‘n’ roll, theater, even bluegrass next week with Steve Martin’s Give Me the Banjo.
Two things I really like about this are it shows PBS getting on a more consistent schedule with arts programming and the programs are moving around the nation. I cannot quantify this, but in the past, public television arts programs have often seemed a bit more haphazard in their timing, and if you weren’t paying attention, it was easy to miss things. Even if it is on a night a lot of us are out at arts events, at least we have a time we know we can look for these shows. And though we have seen more in recent years from cities such as Los Angeles and Washington in recent years, it is nice to see this televised festival so self-consciously not New York-centric.
Of course, it is also great to have network-quality production values focused on the arts, as tonight’s ballet program shows. I have only had time to preview a bit of the Miami City program, but it looks and sounds spectacular, with a program of diverse icons with George Balanchine and Twyla Tharp.
At its best, this series can inspire us to go out and see what’s happening in our own cities.
Framing this year’s 2011-12 arts guide, which is out on newsstands across Central Kentucky Sunday, we were inspired by the idea that this year, there will probably be people who will see events listed in our guide that will inspire them to pursue a life in art.
That led us to ask area arts leaders what their transformational moments were, what “experience – be it a performance, exhibit, recording, film, participation or something else – that made them decide, ‘This is what I want to do. I want to have a life in the arts.’”
We received a variety of responses, many of which were excerpted in my column in the preview. But here, where space isn’t at such a premium, I wanted to share the responses in their entirety. Some had that ba-da-bing moment at an event while others found inspiration in making art, or doing something from such a young age, it became a part of them.
Adalhi Aranda Corn, Director and Founder, Bluegrass Youth Ballet
Perhaps my love for the arts started when my parents took me to see the ballet Coppelia,
performed by the Compañía Nacional de México, back when I was about 7 or 8 in my native
León, México. My parents had played the music by Leo Delibes, so I was familiar with it. After that day, a dream of becoming a ballerina started, perhaps just as it does with thousands of little girls in the world. I had no idea what it would take, or how I would achieve such a dream. What moved me and enticed me was definitely the music, depicting a story and enriched by strong, colorful visual of movement and costumes. It is such a complete experience. The ability
to transport yourself to another world, in a matter of minutes, such fulfilling escapade. No words needed!
I don’t think the answer of “how to” become a dancer came clear to me for years. Even though I took lessons in ballet, it was unknown to me how to you go from here to there! I had two video tapes, one was Coppelia performed by the Royal Ballet (Saddler Wells at that time) and the other was American Ballet Theatre performing Giselle. I have watched these two so much that I knew the entire choreography. Yet, I had no idea how those marvelous dancers got to be the ones in there. Perhaps it was a normal, organic development such as moving up to the next grade in school.
There wasn’t a lot of performing arts support or opportunities in the city I lived in Mexico, so it took me until I was in college to make the decision to leave León and move to Guadalajara. I mainly had to find out if perhaps I had a chance in the world of dance. I came to find out that it was a lot more difficult than I had ever imagined. The hard work, sweat, pain, tears and even blood didn’t stop me from being willing to see how far I could take it. Not knowing, and always wanting to find more answers, took me to the USA.
After making my way through the impossible, I eventually discovered to my dismay that I was indeed making a living as a dancer. I danced proud and this adventure enhanced my life in many levels.
Then one day, I decided that it was time for me to stop focusing on me, and to give “it” back to the next generation. I shifted my interest from performing to teaching. I have learned so much throughout the years, I wanted to share this experience with children who have the same dream as I once had.
The circle becomes closed, when I am able to see my students and audience being moved by music, enriched by movement, colors and a great story.
I believe my work in an art related field is a direct result of the many powerful experiences I have had through my lifelong study of the Arts. In my youth I found great comfort and a sense of belonging through my studies and for me this was the only place where things made sense and I could accomplish successfully the goals that I set for myself. Through this experience I found inspiration, and a place of belonging. My earliest memory of having an overwhelming need to be in Arts was when I was performing at The Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield Ohio. This is a very grand space and I can remember feeling so fortunate to have the opportunity to perform on stage in such a beautiful theatre- under that warmth of the lights with the electricity and excitement that a live performance provides. I also recall my first experience with a major work of art in a museum and how I was in absolute awe at its majestic quality, and I recall an overwhelming feeling of disbelief that we are fortunate enough to share the same space with work that was made by the hands of masters in another time, and how that almost seemed impossible.
Dance was my natural talent and I am blessed to continue my work as a choreographer, teacher and performer to this day. I am honored to serve as an Executive Director of an arts organization and I cannot think of a job that would be better suited to my skills and interests as well as my passions and life experience. These organizations are so important to the health and well being of our society, and it means a great deal to me to have the opportunity to nurture and care for such a valuable community resource. I am thankful to the Arts for giving me a life that is full of endless things to examine and experience and I am inspired daily by the things I have the opportunity to see and do.
Chase Martin, Director, Institute 193
When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in Strasbourg, France. There are several interesting museums in the city, but my favorite was a small one devoted to the work of illustrator Tomi Ungerer, who was born in Strasbourg. Ungerer’s interests are wide ranging: he’s created children’s books, satirical political illustrations, clever graphic designs, and even some pretty outrageous erotic drawings over the course of his career. The museum is as quirky as the man—a large room is devoted to his toy collection—but it succeeds in displaying Ungerer’s work beautifully and succinctly explaining and contextualizing it. The fact that it exists at all is a testament to that community’s pride in the artistic achievement of its native son.
I think visiting the Tomi Ungerer Museum was what made me want to pursue a career in the arts. Looking at the life’s work of someone like Ungerer can make you realize the relevance and wide-
ranging power art can have, and the integral role it can play in building communities.
Scott Terrell, Music Director, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra
I began viola in 5th grade, played for years, and many times thought about quitting. My parents dabbled in music, and really encouraged the kids to take part. We were fortunate to have a very strong public school music program, and very dedicated music teachers. When I was a sophomore in high school, my orchestra director gave me the opportunity to conduct the orchestra during class. It is an experience I have never forgotten, because I realized that I heard the music differently, had a different relationship with it than I did when playing my viola. I was hooked. I knew after that, I wanted to be in music, around music, and bring music to others.
While that singular experience forever cemented my life’s pursuit, I was unaware where it might lead. While working at the Minnesota Orchestra, I was the assistant conductor for many projects, including Britten’s War Requiem, lead by the late Robert Shaw. For an entire week, I watched this master conductor work with this incredible score. He was not feeling well all week yet he drew strength and resolve from this music – and spent countless hours with me, sharing his thoughts about this meaningful work. He was very philosophical in character, and was intent on sharing Britten’s caution to war with everyone. It was a transformational week, and an experience and man I cherish. He died just a few months later.
I think that experience with Mr. Shaw certainly comes to mind when I decided to program the Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem. Vaughan Williams drew inspiration from Britten’s War Requiem, he was very troubled by the impending World War. It was his goal with this work to encourage good will, rather than discord. The experience with Mr. Shaw spoke to me profoundly, presenting the mission of music makers to challenge through works that raise the intellectual and spiritual discussion of a culture.
I have experienced first-hand the potential of the arts curriculum in higher education to make a difference in people’s lives. I am, in a very real sense, an example of the potential of UK’s outreach. Although I am trained as an art historian, my first real exposure to the fine arts was facilitated by the UK School of Music, through their sponsorships of summer music camps and placement of student teachers in my rural school system. Twice selected to participate in the Kentucky All-State band (playing the tuba), I continued to perform and enroll in music theory and music history classes throughout my undergraduate education. The visual arts are another matter; growing up in a poor, rural area of Kentucky (Berry), I had only a few chances to visit museum before I went to college. I had the opportunity to go out-of-state for college, to a small college in Minnesota (Carleton College, Northfield). The first class that I enrolled in college was a general survey of western art. This one class literally opened doors to a world of cultural diversity unavailable and unimaginable to me in high school. This new world was incredibly attractive, yet also daunting and frightening, especially because other students in the class came from backgrounds that permitted them a broader experience of the visual arts than I did. At the end of the course, our instructors arranged for us to take a class trip to the Minneapolis Museum of Art. I remember feeling apprehensive as we walked through the galleries toward the portions of the museum that held material from the areas we studied. I remember, too, the feeling of pride and accomplishment when I realized that I could look at a sculpture and tell whether it was Greek or Egyptian, and date its creation within a few decades. It turns out that looking at art was not all that different from the ability to look at a stalk of tobacco and grade it into grades of bright or red leaf……
Summer Gossett, Marketing and Ticketing Director, Singletary Center for the Arts
“As an undergraduate at UK, I must have changed my major four or five times. Late in my third year of college I signed up for an Art History class with Professor Alice Christ because I needed to fulfill an elective and I was immediately hooked. I do not know if it was the images she projected on the screen that grabbed me or just the history behind them, but I decided to make my final major change to Art History. For the past 12 years I have always worked in thearts – whether it was visual or performing. I have had the great fortune to work for such organizations as the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, the Lexington Art League, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Union Theatre. I cannot imagine a day where I am not able to walk by a photograph, hear a vocal student warming up in the hallway, catch a glimpse of an orchestra tuning on stage, or see a concert hall filled with patrons giving a standing ovation. And I owe it all to a single slide projected on a wall when I was 19 years old.”
Luis Dominguez, Artistic Director, Lexington Ballet
Life changing experiences are not an uncommon thing, particularly in the arts.
My case was no exception.
I am not sure how or why I found myself at the Roosevelt library in Mexico city where they showed a PBS special about the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the company was performing Dougla a very acrobatic Ballet over the projection screen.
After I saw it, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.
It took a lot of determination to get to New York and even more to get accepted in the company.
My dream came through, I was doing what I wanted to do.
The price to pay, as it is with most worth things in life, was time, effort and passion.
If you want something bad enough you will find a way to create an opportunity for it to happen.
The Dance Theatre of Harlem gave me a life changing opportunity.
Jennifer Scianterelli, Communications Director, UK College of Fine Arts
There wasn’t one pivotal moment in my life that made me decide to pursue the arts. Rather, it has simply been a matter of fact since I stepped into my first pair of ballet slippers at age 3. I’m not sure I’ve ever really wanted anything else. Through myself and through those around me I continually see the power of the arts to educate, to inspire, to heal, to transform.
Tanya Harper, Production Director, Singletary Center for the Arts
“My life in the arts began like many others – in high school. Soon, it grew into a career choice for me when I saw the power that the arts have to move, to inspire, to educate, to heal, and to unite. I was recently reminded of a concert at Singletary Center not too long after 9/11 – Bela Fleck. He sat alone on stage and played our national anthem on the banjo. It was one of the most moving performances I have ever personally witnessed in all the years I have worked in the arts. You could hear a pin drop as he played, and see such a range of emotions on the faces in the crowd. There is nothing I love more than to stand in the back of a theatre and watch hundreds of people losing themselves in a performance. Two hours later, they transition out of this experience and back to the real world, but for those two hours, they have forgotten their troubles and immersed themselves in the art. And we, as artists, designers, technicians, production staff… we slip out the back stage door and eagerly wait for the opportunity to do it all over again.”
Jul21Filed under: Balagula Theatre, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, dance, Film, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, Music, Opera, Photography, Theater, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: allocations, Balagula Theatre, Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, Central Kentucky Concert Band, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, grants, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Kentucky Craft History and Education Association, Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Kremena Todorova, Kurt Gohde, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Bach Choir, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Living Arts and Science Center, The African American Forum, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre
LexArts has announced its recipients of general operating support and community arts grants.
The general operating support funds are unrestricted grants, generally to larger organizations in Lexington.
This year’s recipients are:
■ Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, $20,000
■ Lexington Art League, $62,000
■ Lexington Children’s Theatre, $120,000
■ Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, $165,000
■ Lexington Singers, $9,000
■ Living Arts and Science Center, $102,000
Community Arts Grants are given at two levels: Program grants to groups for operating support and specific endeavors and project grants to groups or individuals for specific projects.
Program grants go to:
■ Balagula Theatre Company, $8,600 – for its 2011-12 theater season
■ Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, $8,600 – for the Kentucky Great Writers Series, which brings 12 Kentucky authors to the center to work with writers
■ Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, $4,000 – for the 2011 festival
■ Kentucky Ballet Theatre, $8,400 – for the 2011-2012 season of performances
■ Kentucky Craft History and Education Association, $3,000 – for Stringed Instruments, The Art of the Luthier, a documentary film about stringed instrument-making in Kentucky
■ Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Inc., $7,500 – for the 2011 event
■ University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, $5,000 -for the Academy for Creative Excellence, which provides theater and music training for first through eight graders
Project grants go to:
■ The African American Forum, $1,500 – for The Smooth Jazz Fest
■ Artists Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, $2,500 – for 1000 Dolls, a project to create and install 1000 local-designed dolls along Limestone
■ Central Kentucky Concert Band, $1,750 – for the closing concert of the 2011-2012 season
■ Lexington Bach Choir, $1,000 – for the 2nd Annual Lexington Bach Choir Vocal Competition in which students age 30 or younger compete for cash and a solo opportunity with the Bach Choir
May19Filed under: ballet, books, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, dance, Music, Musicals, Norton Center for the Arts, Uncategorized; Tagged as: Australian Chamber Orchestra, Dailey and Vincent, Dawn Upshaw, Hahn-Bin, Maria Schneider, Moulin Rouge, Norton Center for the Arts, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Stanley Jordan, Steven A. Hoffman
DANVILLE — In his first year as director of Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, Steven A. Hoffman has noticed what’s around him in the student body.
It’s the iPod generation, as New Yorker magazine music critic Alex Ross once dubbed it: young adults who load wide varieties of music into their MP3 players from rock to classical to hip-hop to county to jazz and traditional music, and they let it all mix together.
The kind of audience that appreciates that variety is reflected in the Norton Center’s 2011-12 season, the first one programmed entirely by Hoffman, who came to Danville in July 2010.
Highlighting the lineup are hip violin virtuoso Hahn-Bin, bluegrass stars Dailey and Vincent, a ballet version of Moulin Rouge from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, jazz star Stanley Jordan and his trio, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw singing a brand-new work by Maria Schneider.
Hoffman points out that 20 of the 21 acts playing the center’s 1,400-seat Newlin Hall and 350-seat Weisiger Theatre are Norton Center debuts. (A touring version of Fiddler on the Roof will return, and Hoffman says Upshaw has played the center before, but not with that program.)
“I may not have intentionally programmed that many debuts,” Hoffman says. “But I think I was trying to make a statement.
For ‘Peter Pan,’ some Kentucky Ballet Theatre performers are taking flight, with help from Louisville-based ZFX Flying Effects. Read more.
Mar18Filed under: ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, dance, Music, Musicals, Theater; Tagged as: Adalhi Aranda Corn, Alexa Rose, Billy Elliot, Bluegrass Youth Ballet, Jeromy Smith, Jill Hall Rose, John “Eck” Rose, Lyndy Franklin Smith, Russ Bleck, SCAPA, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Tanner Bleck, Town and Village School of Dance, Youth America Grand Prix
Since 2000, boys in ballet have had an obvious icon: Billy Elliot, the English coal-miner’s son who chooses ballet over boxing in the hit 2000 film that bears his name.
Boys in dance could easily dream of being Billy. For one Lexington dancer, that could be an attainable goal.
Tanner Bleck, 13, of Lexington, who studies ballet at the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the Bluegrass Youth Ballet, is in New York this weekend competing in the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition and auditioning for the national tour of the musical version of Billy Elliot. (Because of child labor laws, his mother, Lori Bleck, says the tour is casting four or five Billys.)
“He would be perfect for the role,” said Jill Hall Rose, mother of Alexa Rose, Tanner’s partner in the pas de deux portion of the Grand Prix competition, which awards scholarships for ballet schools and summer intensives.
Alexa and Tanner were fresh off a private brush-up rehearsal with Bluegrass Youth Ballet founder and director Adalhi Aranda Corn on Tuesday night, just a few hours before they departed for the competition. As they went through each of the selections for the competition, which will run through Monday at the New York City Center, Corn was relaxed, reminding Tanner and Alexa to be mindful of the basics.
“I know you can do the big stuff,” Corn said. “It’s the little things you need to remember.”
Since he discovered ballet, getting Tanner to concentrate on perfecting his technique has not been a problem.
His father, Russ Bleck, said, “Sometimes school gets the short end, but he is always practicing.”
“It feels like I’m a whole new person when I dance,” Tanner said when asked about the attraction to dance. “Billy says it makes him feel like he’s flying, and it does feel like that.”
Like Billy Elliot, Tanner says he experienced some confrontations and bullying for being a dancer, before he went to SCAPA, where there is a more like-minded student body.
It’s an art form most closely associated with girls, even though it requires peak fitness and strength and is often compared to basketball in terms of its athleticism. Corn says the ratio of boys to girls in her school is about one to nine.
This will be Tanner’s second time going to the Grand Prix in New York, where, unlike in Lexington, there was a larger population of male dancers.
Mar8Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Country music, dance, Lexington Ballet, Music, Musicals, Opera; Tagged as: 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Alltech Haitian Harmony Children's Choir, American Spiritual Ensemble, California Cowgirls Equestrian Drill Team, Cherryholmes, Culver Academies Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes, Dan James, Dan Steers, Denyce Graves, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Everett McCorvey, Friesian Train, Global Creative Connections, Mario Contreras, opening ceremonies, Riata Ranch Ropers, Ronan Tynan, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Stacey Westfall, the Lexington Ballet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Tommie Turvey, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Vince Bruce, Wynonna Judd
If you want to relive the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, or you feel like you never really got to see it in the abbreviated TV broadcast of the ceremonies, the event is now out on a 2-hour DVD from Everett McCorvey’s production company, Global Creative Connections.
The DVD includes performances from guest artists Wynonna Judd, Denyce Graves, Ronan Tynan, Cherryholmes, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Sarah Lee Guthrie – who just had her national TV debut with husband Johnny Irion on Last Call with Caron Daly – as well as the American Spiritual Ensemble, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Lexington Ballet and the Alltech Haitian Harmony Children’s Choir. It also contains performances by the equine acts including Culver Academies’ Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes, Mario Contreras, Stacey Westfall, the California Cowgirls Equestrian Drill Team, roper Vince Bruce, the Riata Ranch Ropers, the Friesian Train, dressage cowboy Eitan Beth-Halachmy and extreme riders Tommie Turvey, Dan James and Dan Steers.
The DVD is $25, plus $4.50 shipping and handling, through the company website.
Mar3Filed under: ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, dance, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Theater; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Andy Haymaker, Beaumont Center, Joe Artz, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Chinese-American Association, Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater, Scott Sherman, Tim Haymaker
It’s almost time for the first full season of performances at the Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater behind Beaumont Center. Since it is still such an unknown quantity to many presenters in Lexington, LexArts is holding an open house at the theater from 2 to 5 p.m. March 19.
The $2 million theater was built by developer Andy Haymaker and his father Tim Haymaker as a community gathering place in the Beaumont Center area. It opened last fall and had a few performances by groups such as Actors Guild of Lexington, the Lexington Ballet and the Lexington Chinese-American Association before it had to close for winter.
But spring is getting ready to … well, it’s just around the corner, and LexArts, which manages the facility, is working to get it booked up for the warm months.
Manager Joe Artz and technical director Scott Sherman will be at the open house to give tours, answer questions and field ideas for the facility, which seats around 1,000 people. For more information, visit moondancelex.com or call (859) 225-0370.
During my post-WEG vacation last week, much of which was spent on various home improvement projects, I fell in love with Q, a CBC Radio culture show that airs at 2 p.m. weekdays on WEKU-FM 88.9. Each show, host Jian Ghomeshi takes on a handful of topics from the worlds of film, recordings, stage, art, books and current affairs.
During a week of projects such as installing a new laminate floor in my living room, I heard guests from members of Gorillaz to Gloria Steinem to Rick Springfield – yes, another Aussie from the ’80s – and topics from the use of Facebook for spying to the new Broadway play about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
But the discussion that really caught my ear during the week was Is Ballet Over? It was a debate between New York-based ballet critic Jennifer Homans who wrote a New Republic article that posed that question and Karen Kain, director of the National Ballet of Canada. Homans’ position was that ballet has become a tired, self-referential form quickly losing its lustre, while Kain responded that she sees a vibrant environment for dance outside of ballet capitols like New York and Moscow, where tradition may hinder creativity.
It’s an interesting discussion I’d encourage you to listen to and then participate in, here. (Click here to listen. I couldn’t find an individual sound file for the debate, but if you click play on the Oct. 21 episode, you will start to hear the debate about five minutes into the episode.) Comment below and tell us what you think – I can think of a few people here in Lexington who should have strong emotions on this topic.
(Note: If you tried to comment a while ago – bet. 2 and 3 p.m. Oct. 25 – there was a problem I was not aware of, and it should be fixed now. Please try again. Thanks.)
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich