Today’s post will be pretty short, I imagine, since the only main conference activity was the awards luncheon and the rest of the day was filled with showcases.
Each year, APAP awards those whose service to the performing arts has had a significant impact on the industry and on communities worldwide. The recipients are chosen by a national panel of arts leaders. Here are those recipients:
- The William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement
in Programming was awarded to Paul King and Walter Jaffe. The two founded White Bird Dance in 1997 to highlight excellence in dance in Portland, Oregon. The organization has since become one of the leading dance presenters on the west coast bringing regional, national and international dance groups to the communities of Portland. White Bird supports emerging dance companies and choreographers, commissions new works, conducts outreach programs in local schools and collaborates extensively with other Portland area organizations to broaden dance audiences.
- The Sidney R. Yates Award for Outstanding Advocacy on Behalf of the Performing Arts was awarded to Ben Cameron. In 2006, Ben Cameron
assumed his current position as program director of arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York, NY. He supervises a $17 million grants program focusing on organizations and artists in the theatre, contemporary dance, jazz and presenting fields. Previously, Cameron served for more than eight years as the executive director of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), significantly expanding its programs, membership base and grant-making activities. He worked as senior program officer at the Dayton Hudson Foundation, manager of community relations for Target and spent four years at the National Endowment for the Arts, including two as director of the theater program.
- The Award of Merit for Achievement in Performing Arts was awarded to Jazz impresario George Wein. Through his company, Festival Productions, Inc., he has spearheaded hundreds of music events annually since 1954 when he produced the first Newport Jazz Festival – an event that started the festival era. Five years later, Wein
and folk icon Pete Seeger founded the Newport Folk Festival where the two music giants celebrated 50 years of folk with 15,000 fans in August 2009. In 2011, Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc., was created to help maintain these festivals into the future. At 86, Wein has as much creative fuel as he did when he started the Newport festivals and advanced the concept of live music. He also pioneered the idea of sponsorships for music events, beginning with the Schlitz Salute to Jazz and the Kool Jazz Festival.
Showcases throughout the day:
- The first showcase was an excerpt by Radio Theatre. They performed a wonderful adaptation of the King Kong script in the style of the old radio shows. They didn’t dress up in 1940’s costumes and act as if a radio show was going on, however. They just “parked and barked” from their script stands at the front of the stage. It was a true readers theatre that, if you closed you eyes, made you feel as if you were sitting by a radio and listening to a story. They also used lighting and sound effects to help the mood along.
- Next I saw Star of Happiness: Helen Keller on Vaudeville?! The one woman play was designed (according to the program) to tell people of Keller’s four year Vaudeville stint and describe what it was like to be a blind spectacle. While the idea seems good, the execution was far from it. It is unfortunate that I have to give a bad review at an APAP showcase, but there is just no way to spin it. It was bad. The performer was not a good actor, which is sort of necessary when you are the only person on the stage. Also, there didn’t seem to be any character to Keller. I would not recommend wasting your time on this one.
- Next up was unfortunately another disappointment. Jeff Randal Rose’s Love, Lightning had me searching from the start. “Searching for what?,” you might ask. Searching for a plot or a meaning or a theme or something. And I consider myself educated in the different styles of theatre. Simply, this seemed to be a poor attempt at avant-garde.
- My next showcase more than made up for it though. Shen Wei Dance Arts was amazing. The choreographer of the 2008 Bejing Olympics proved that he can do more than teach hundreds of people to beat a drum in sync. Wei’s choreography is cutting edge and extraordinary, with the artists moving their bodies in ways that you rarely see dancers move (requiring the utmost body control). The piece was, however, VERY modern. I definitely don’t see Joe the plumber purchasing a ticket to see this. But for those who are die-hard modern dance enthusiasts, I would highly recommend catching this when it comes through your town. (But I do not recommend it for youth or children…or your mom, because of the scantily clad costumes….or lack of.)
I wrapped up my evening with an amazing combo showcase featuring some of NYK-Rapp’s artists. We witnessed:
- the succulent swing of legendary woodwind musician Hal Linden,
- the belting voice of Lucie Arnaz (yes, that would be Lucy and Desi’s daughter),
- the melodies of multiple Tony Award nominee and Knots Landing star Michele Lee
- the showmanship of legendary singer and tap-dancer Maurice Hines (yep, Gregory’s brother)
- the Bette Midler and Aretha Franklin type vocal command of Carol Woods and Karen Saunders
- the amplified pipes of Tony Award nominee (for Fosse) Valarie Pettiford
- and the mind bending act of mentalist Guy Bavli
The entire night was emceed by the hilarious Stewie Stone at the legendary Friar’s Club at 55th and Park Avenue. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and would recommend these acts.
Ok, so I guess the post wasn’t as short as I thought it would be. Stay tuned for the final post tomorrow.
– Steven Dawson
“The world needs art, not so they can escape, but so they can embrace.”