Posts Tagged 'performance'



Community Connection: Our Friends and Neighbors

Dear loyal blog readers,

We have a new summer blog post schedule.  Look for new posts on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Have a fabulous summer!

The opening of the AT&T Performing Arts Center last fall brought our friends at the Dallas Theater Center (DTC) to the ever-growing Dallas Arts District.  Having comfortably settled into their new home at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, the DTC has developed programs and collaborations as innovative as the building itself.  Lisa Holland, Director of Education and Community Programs at the DTC, gives us a peek behind the scenes.

Tell us about your new home at the Wyly Theatre.
The Wyly Theatre is remarkable – there’s not another theater like it in the entire world.  The flexibility that it affords is unparalleled and I think that we, as the primary tenants, are going to learn about this building as time goes on.  I think the possibilities are going to be limitless in this building.  I also think our patrons are going to be the lucky beneficiaries of seeing what this building can do.  It’s like a giant transformer.  What that provides to the patron in terms of the audience to artist relationship is going to be powerful and immediate. There’s nothing like it.  

Also, the synergy between other organizations in the Arts District and the potential collaborations that exist now is so thrilling.  I think about how we can collaborate with our friends and family at the Arts District in ways that will be really engaging and exciting.  To walk down the street and see who you’ll run into, or walk down the street and have a meeting at the DMA – it’s exciting. 

Do you ever consider integrating or thinking about works of art related to your programs?
Absolutely.  In the past, we’ve incorporated a visual arts component in our SummerStage program.  I believe that whatever kind of artist you are, you need to “feed your hopper”.  In other words, you pour into yourself different experiences, whether it’s a trip to the zoo or going for a walk and looking at leaves.  You never know what will inform your work as an artist.  

Also, we deal with a lot of visual arts formal elements like color, line, and composition in the theater.  And, we have had collaborative events with the DMA in the past, such as sending artists to the DMA and working with Arts & Letters Live.

Tell us about the Shannon and Ted Skokos Learning Lab, your new partnership with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
It was brand new this year, and it was a resounding mutual success. Last spring, we auditioned the rising juniors and from that group chose eighteen seniors.  The Learning Lab has three components.  Kevin Moriarty (DTC Artistic Director), Charlton Gavitt (Booker T. Washington High School Theater Cluster Faculty), and I team-taught the class component, which occurred every other day, all year long.  The second component is a twenty-hour internship that students complete outside of class hours.  The final component is a performance project, in which we paired the students with our professional acting company, and they performed ten scenes in the Wyly Theatre with the professional actors.  The students also came to every single show we produced this year, free of charge.  This is a super exciting program, and I don’t think anywhere else has that sort of integrated relationship between a school and a professional theater with that kind of access.  The program is a great example of the kind of collaboration that can happen in the Arts District – it was so simple to walk across the street, teach, and walk back to my office.

How did you come to your position as Director of Education & Community Programs?
I grew up in the theater.  My parents took me to theater and I’ve been a theater student my whole life.  After I earned my graduate degree in directing, I was hired as one of two artistic directing interns at the Dallas Theater Center thirteen years ago.  I was hired to work in the artistic office after my internship year, and I basically never left.  I defected into the education department about halfway through my tenure, but that made sense because my undergraduate degree is in theater education.

What program/performance are you most looking forward to this summer?
We have a program called SUPERStage (SummerStage’s alter ego), where we have theater day camps for kids ages 4-14. I’m also looking forward to our summer production It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s SupermanI’m so excited about having a mainstage show running concurrently with our SUPERtage program.  Our SUPERStage students will have access to what we do in a primary way, and we’re going to enfold into the curriculum what is happening on stage so it becomes a learning lab of sorts.  It’s going to be awesome.  Superman – what can you say – there’s flying  –  it’s Superman!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Community Connection: Art in Motion

Last week, I had the chance to speak with Nancy Schaeffer, Education Director at the Dallas Children’s Theater.  She generously set aside time for our interview; as you will see, this is one busy lady.

Tell us about your work at the Dallas Children’s Theater.

Nancy Schaeffer, Education Director at the Dallas Children's Theater

My primary responsibility is overseeing our academy.  We serve children ages 3 ½ to 18 with acting classes and our teen conservatory. During the school year, as many as 300 children come to single programs during a week, and close to 1,000 children attend programs per week during the summer.  We also have mini-sessions where students have multiple experiences over four weeks.  It is my job to hire teachers, oversee curriculum and performances, and talk to parents.  I also oversee a residency program in schools during the school day.   In the summer we have musical theater, video classes, improv classes for teens, and storytelling for the little ones. All of our programs end with a production of some sort.

I also read scripts and sit on a committee that puts together the season for the year.  I sit on various committees for outreach, and we work closely with the nearby Vickery Meadow neighborhood.

How did you come to be Education Director at the Dallas Children’s Theater?

I have been with the Theater since its first day.  My husband was the first official full-time employee.  I started as an actress in the first production: Babes in Toyland.  I’m now in my 26th season with the DCT.    There was no education staff in the beginning; I eventually moved into this position over time and created my job.

What is your most memorable moment from your time with the DCT?

Moving into this building seven years ago, on Valentine’s Day.  When we moved in, it was really hard, but it was really exciting. It was hard because the building was not completed when we moved in.  We received a certificate of occupancy at 4:30 in the afternoon and had a show at 7:30 that night.  We also had a site visit that weekend from the National Endowment for the Arts.  And we were doing a show at El Centro that weekend.  We had no heat in most of the building, and all of our stuff from the old building was packed onto a truck that was not unloaded for two weeks.  The whole process was really something to be a part of.

Which production are you most looking forward to, and why?

I direct main stage shows – usually three a year – which is not a part of my responsibilities as Education Director.  It’s a lot of work and a lot of extra time, but I love whatever project I get involved in.  I’m currently directing How I Became a Pirate.  It has huge scenery components, and those are always exciting for the audience but are very challenging for the director.  We do nine shows a week with professional actors, and so far everything has worked out.

One of the shows I’m directing next season is titled Don’t You Love Me?  It is for teens and is about dating violence.  We’ve done this production once before, and we don’t back off when we do a play like this for teens.  We lead discussions afterwards, and I saw the impact this show had on the audience.  I realized how prevalent this problem is and how important it is to do this work. It does take a chunk out of you, but I did enjoy it.

In the past, you’ve led trainings for our docents based on your expertise in movement and performance.  How do you connect your work with looking at works of art?

Theater as an art form uses more than one type of art, with scenery, dance, music, sound, and the visual. The visual is critical in a play. While I’m looking deeply at works of art in the museum, I absorb these wonderful images and feelings and emotions which can’t help but inform my work.  Working with docents, who are so smart and engaged and want to expand, made me want to find ways to connect more visually in my art and my way of working with children. I love doing it, and I feel like I’ve gotten so much out of the trainings.

We are so busy; taking a minute to stop and look, then think and connect and realize what kind of emotions you’re feeling is good for your soul. I have also made such a nice connection over the years with Gail Davitt, the Director of Education at the Dallas Museum of Art, through certain projects and meetings that we both attend.  I’m so glad the Museum is in our community for children to visit and explore and know it’s for them.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Learning Partnerships with the Community

Art for Two

It’s a perfect day for thinking in twos; we’re getting close to that couple-y time of year, and it’s also the 2nd day of February (2/2)!

The DMA collection is full of couples in works of art—some of them are real-life pairs, some are fictional twosomes.  Below are just a few of the many couples here at the Museum.  All of them (or works by them) are currently on view.

Wendy & Emery Reves: A Couple Art-lovers
She was a fashion model. He was a Hungarian journalist and writer.  Together Wendy and Emery Reves befriended celebrities (Winston Churchill and Greta Garbo) and amassed a breath-taking collection of decorative and fine art by artists like Degas, Monet, and van Gogh.  The Reves gave their entire 1,400 piece collection to the Museum in 1985, where it is housed in a beautiful replica of their French villa on the 3rd floor of the Museum.

Shiva & Parvati: A Divine Couple
Hindu god Shiva, and his wife, the goddess Parvati, are shown in this 7th-8th century atwork as a loving couple.  Shiva is the Lord of Life, Death and Rebirth, and in this sculpture he appears as Maheshvara, or great god. Parvati appears as Uma, or the shining one.

India, Stele of Uma-Maheshvara, 7th-8th century

Frances Bagley & Tom Orr: A Couple of Local Artists
Dallas artists and real-life couple Frances Bagley and Tom Orr collaborated to create the stage set for the 2006 Dallas Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s, Nabucco.  They translated several components of the production’s set to create an installation that is on view in the exhibition Performance/Art, through March 21st.  Nabucco tells the Biblical story of the Jews’ exile from their homeland by Nabucco, the Babylonian king.  The image below shows Bagley and Orr’s interpretation of the Hanging Garden, the final scene of the opera.


Scene from the Tales of Ise: An Ill-fated Couple
The couple in these 16th century screens is based on characters from a Japanese collection of fables called “Tales of Ise.”  This scene shows the pair attempting to elope by escaping through a field of grass, as they are pursued by servants of a provincial governor.  The empty, lonely scene foreshadows the tragic fate of the young couple, who will soon be discovered in hiding after the servants set fire to the field.
Tosa Mitsuyoshi, Scene from the ales of Ise, Momoyama Period

Couplet
This last one isn’t an artwork in our collection, but it just might be my favorite on the list.  It’s a student-made video about two chairs visiting the Museum, and it reminds me of the fun of looking at art with someone else.  Hats off to the Booker T. Washington High School Film Club students who created it during a Saturday afternoon here this past October.

Our next Late Night on Friday, February 19th is a perfect time to visit the Museum with a special someone; there will be French themed performances, and a focus on Impressionism and romance.

Happy February!
Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Learning Partnerships with Schools and the Community

Community Connection: How to Live Life Creatively in Every Way

 If you have attended a Late Night, Family Celebration, or First Tuesday in the past two years, it is likely you have experienced the magical storytelling of Ann Marie Newman.  Audiences of all ages are captivated by the enchanting worlds Ann Marie creates with her animated voices and expressions, colorful costumes, and playful props.  Likewise, DMA staff enjoy the creative ideas that Ann Marie brings as a collaborator to both new and established programs.  It was my pleasure to sit down and talk with Ann Marie, whose personal definition of “Creative Bliss” is when she is merging her traditional and classical art skills into unique works of art. 
 
 

Ann Marie often includes the audience in her storytelling.

 Please describe your creative process.

I start my day by waking up and allowing myself to have ten minutes to let my imagination flow.  I often think about a storytelling idea or creative project that I’m working on.  I also take a bath and try to soak in the water for twenty minutes.  I do some major brainstorming in the water and allow myself to daydream.  Afterward, I might sketch or take notes to capture my ideas.  I nurture my creativity, like some people might do yoga or run on the treadmill to start their day.  My creative process is extremely intuitive.  I don’t have an end in sight; I start in the middle and work outward. 

To what other aspects of your life do you apply a creative thinking approach?

Creativity is a part of how I present myself every day:  I’m always changing my
     hairstyle.
I’ve applied creativity to every job I’ve ever had.  I used to be a hairdresser, and
     I viewed my work as sculpture.
I never take the same route, whether driving somewhere or shopping in a
     grocery store.
I explore.
I take things that already exist, like stories or artworks, and add my own voice.
I go on walks and notice colors of houses and what people do with their yard.  I
     might come home with sticks or other things I’ve picked up and include them
     in an artwork.
I go to the mall and look at window designs and come home with ideas.
I carry a notebook in my purse at all times and write down ideas as they come to
     me.  

Ann Marie and a young summer camper make a 3-D version of Jackson Pollock's Cathedral.

 

What most inspires you? 

All creative people inspire me; I am a reader of biographies.  The last biography I read was about Andrew Wyeth, and his story had a huge impact on me.   When I was a teenager, I read everything I could about Andy Warhol.  He showed me how to live life creatively in every way: his life was like art, like a crazy novel.  Laurie Anderson also inspires me.  I’ve been watching YouTube videos of her and reading everything I can about her.   

Tell us your idea of a perfect day.  

To wake up and have my dreaming time, and then to move from one medium to another and keep moving around.  For instance, I might start with creative writing, then move on to a recycled wool project, then on to a recycled bottle-cap project, and then come back and re-read my writing.  I like to work on multiple projects, so my ideal environment is a warehouse (I’ve taken over three rooms in our house).   

Have you made any resolutions for 2010?  

Yes, to develop as a performance artist, not just a storyteller.  Performance art is first and foremost experimental, and performance artists are true pioneers.  They are risk-takers.  They mix the visual with sound with storytelling with conceptual ideas and movement.  It is so open-ended, and I like the freedom of it.  

Become immersed in Ann Marie’s imaginary worlds at upcoming Late Nights and Family Celebrations.  On January 30, Anne Marie will co-teach a family workshop in the Tech Lab.  She will also be featured in programs during March as the Center for Creative Connections visiting artist.  In addition, Ann Marie will teach several summer art camps in 2010.  

Artist Spotlight: Yinka Shonibare MBE

One of the Dallas Museum of Art’s most recent and exciting exhibitions, Performance/Art, centers around contemporary works of art. Along with paintings and installations, the exhibition includes two films, one by Eija-Liisa Ahtila and the other by Yinka Shonibare. Shonibare’s film, Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball), is based on an opera by the same name by Giuseppe Verdi and is a visual spectacle that will attract and intrigue visitors.

Shonibare, Un ballo in maschera

Un ballo in maschera, Yinka Shonibare MBE

While the story underlying Shonibare’s film is interesting (the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden), so too is the real life of the artist. Shonibare was born in London in 1962 but raised in Nigeria. This duality of experience and identity is explored in much of his work, which extends beyond film and includes sculpture, painting, photography, and installation. As apparent in the brilliant costumes in Un ballo in maschera, Shonibare frequently works with dyed fabrics which complicate issues of history, colonialism, and our global economy.

Shonibare’s art delves into complex ideas, often layered with multiple points of view, and he emphasizes the aesthetic experience in the process. Some works, such as Lady on Unicycle and Hopscotch, both large-scale installations, include mannequins dressed in Dutch wax-printed cotton. Others, like Dorian Gray, are two-dimensional and include less flamboyant imagery, in this case neutral-colored prints.

Since being awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 2005, Shonibare has taken the honorary title as part of everyday usage of his name. This small action hints at what much of his artwork overtly discusses, specifically the ambiguous and contradictory relationship he has with his nationality and identity. More information about Yinka Shonibare and his artwork can be found online at Art:21.

If you would like to experience Un ballo in maschera as well the other works in Performance/Art and All the World’s a Stage, come to our Teacher Workshop this Saturday, November 7, where we will be going through the exhibitions and talking about performance. To sign up, e-mail teacherprograms@DallasMuseumofArt.org or select the Teacher Programs link on our ticketing Web site  to register online.

Logan Acton
McDermott Teaching Programs Intern

Lights, Camera, Action!

Dancers of Tlaxcala (Danzantes de Tlaxcala), Carlos Mérida, 1951

Dancers of Tlaxcala (Danzantes de Tlaxcala), Carlos Mérida, 1951

It’s an exciting time in the Arts District with the grand opening of the AT&T Performing Arts Center.  In honor of our new neighbor, we’ve developed a new Go van Gogh school outreach program called Creative Connections: Lights, Camera, Action! that focuses on three diverse works of art in the Museum collection and invites students to respond creatively through movement and drama.  Creative Connections programs are 90-minutes long, during which students participate in what we call “experiments” that involve collaborating with others, applying multiple approaches to solving problems, and producing a creative expression.  These programs can be messy, loud, and challenging – and they are definitely a lot of fun.

If you’re a 3-6th grade teacher and don’t mind a little bit of noise in the classroom, I hope you’ll consider this program for your students.   I promise you’ll be amazed and impressed by the creativity, thought, and enthusiasm they put into their performances.  Requesting a program is easy with our online form

With a background in art history and a bit of studio art, the task of writing a program about performance intimidated me.  However, I have the great fortune of working with talented people, and I interviewed some of them during my initial research.  I spoke with Lanita Sene, who I know through our partnership with the South Dallas Cultural Center.  Lanita leads African dance and culture classes during Summer Arts at the Center.  I also spoke with Blanca Reyna and Calvin Rollins, who I met through our partnership with the Ice House Cultural Center summer camp.   Blanca specializes in Aztec culture, and Calvin is a dance student at Southern Methodist University (he also attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing  and Visual Arts).  Last, I spoke with my colleague Amy Copeland who studied dance at Booker T. Washington and other studios in the Dallas area. 

This talented group provided many helpful ideas, like warm-up exercises that capture the students’ attention and focus.  Another great suggestion was empowering students by giving them specialized roles in their performances and encouraging them to lead peer critiques. 

I tested the program with 4th graders and 6th graders who created dances, music, masks, and skits inspired by artworks in our exhibition All the World’s a Stage: Performance in the Visual Arts.  The shyest students contributed by helping to plan, write, and direct the performances.  The boldest students reveled in the opportunity to show off in front of their peers.  Afterward, one teacher remarked that it was fun seeing her students in a new light, and the other felt it was a great program for bilingual students.

 This past Friday, I trained our volunteers and gave them the same challenges students experience during the program.  I watched as they worked together in groups, sometimes giggling, at times with their brows furrowed.  They all agreed that they can’t wait to bring the program to Dallas classrooms.

 It’s showtime!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Learning Partnerships with the Community

A Sneak Peek Behind the Curtain

Last week, our new special exhibition was unveiled to the public.  All the World’s a Stage brings together works of art in our collection that deal with the idea of performance.  Performance is a key theme at the DMA this year, as we get ready to welcome a new neighbor to the Arts District: the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.

 All the World’s a Stage is an exciting exhibition because it brings so many of our favorite works of art together in one place.  You usually never see Shiva Nataraja and Romare Bearden’s Soul Three side-by-side, but they’re only one gallery apart from now until February.

Yoruba Egungun

Yoruba Egungun costume

I’m especially excited that our Yoruba Egungun costume from Nigeria is back on display.  This is one of my favorite works of art in our collection.  Its multiple layers of cloth were added year after year by family members, and it is fun to imagine who added them and why.  This costume is used during a ceremony to honor ancestors—quite different from how we honor our ancestors.  The Egungun ceremony includes singing and drumming, and the Egungun twirls through the crowd like a whirlwind.  It’s definitely a spectacle for the senses, and one I hope to see in person some day!

We’re offering a variety of programs for teachers and students relating to the theme of performance this year, including docent-guided tours of the exhibition.  I hope you’ll attend one of these programs so we can share the excitement of this exhibition with your students.

Shannon Karol                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Tour Coordinator


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,604 other followers

Archives

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories