THE MUSIC CENTER’S VERY SPECIAL ARTS FESTIVAL CELEBRATES HARMONY WITH CHILDREN FROM MORE THAN 100 SCHOOLS SPECIAL PERFORMANCE BY AXIS DANCE COMPANY

AXIS Dance Company also to perform on Saturday, October 27 at 11 am and 1 pm on Grand Park’s Performance Lawn. Admission is free to the public.

LOS ANGELES (October 18 2012) - The Music Center will present the 34th annual Very Special Arts Festival themed Harmony on Friday, October 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This free Festival celebrates the artistic achievements of students with disabilities along with their mainstream peers.

 

New this year, AXIS Dance Company will have two consecutive days of performances – starting on October 26 on The Music Center Plaza to conclude the Very Special Arts Festival festivities with a performance dedicated to the children who participate in the Festival. On the next day, Saturday, October 27, AXIS Dance Company will give two free performances at Grand Park’s Performance Lawn, in Downtown LA, at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm.

 

AXIS has become one of the world’s most acclaimed and innovative ensembles of performers with and without disabilities. Founded in 1987, the company has paved the way for a powerful contemporary dance form called physically integrated dance. They have performed worldwide in more than 120 cities and have been featured on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”

 

According to Suzy Boyett, program and events manager, education for The Music Center, “AXIS Dance Company has become a touchstone for both contemporary dance and disability culture. The Music Center is thrilled to have AXIS Dance Company participate in this year’s Very Special Arts Festival, serving as a reminder to all of the limitless potential that can be unleashed through the arts.”

 

The program for both performances include “The Narrowing,” as seen on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and “Ricochet” both choreographed by Company dancer Sebastian Grubb. On Saturday, October 27, the Company will also perform “Terre Brune” choreographed by French-Canadian Sonya Delwaid, and “falling up,” originally a site- specific piece commissioned by the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in San Francisco and choreographed by Associate Director Sonsherée Giles.

 

The October 27 performances are presented by Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center in partnership with Grand Park. AXIS’ appearance at Grand Park continues the park’s public opening celebration events taking place throughout the months of October and November. Thor Steingraber, The Music Center’s Vice President of Programming, said, “The presentation of AXIS Dance Company is another important commitment to a broad array of free public events that are aimed at reaching a large and varied Los Angeles audience. It is important to note that the newly built Grand Park is fully disability accessible – a park for everyone.”

 

The Very Special Arts Festival showcases the inspirational and transformative power of the arts, both in the classroom and on the stage. Robbie Wise, a school teacher and past Festival participant is a true believer in the change this event can effect. “At the beginning of the school year, a child might not be able to walk across the room or turn with a walker, but by the time he or she is on stage, he or she can. Through dance, we teach them, in a fun way, how to overcome their challenges. At the Very Special Arts Festival, students’ disabilities are not a struggle, they’re a giant celebration.”

 

After much hard work and determination in the classroom and at home, students arrive at The Music Center for their special day in the spotlight filled with pride and excitement. Two large stages will transform The Music Center Plaza and enliven the space with continuous performances by more than 40 schools, in addition to special presentations from adult professional artists such as The Alley Cats, The Tinkers, We Tell Stories, the Wildlife Learning Center and their exotic animals, and ambassador dogs from Guide Dogs of America. Many of The Music Center’s professional artists will be onsite conducting visual arts workshops on The Plaza and throughout the lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

 

Students from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts will be conducting a joint face-painting workshop in celebration of the Harmony theme. Bethune Theatredanse, the first professional dance company to create a participatory dance program for disabled youth, called Infinite Dreams, has participated in VSAF since its inception. The festival includes an art exhibit of student work created around the theme, both 2D and 3D art – and typically as many as 1,000 pieces of art are on display.

 

Boyett says “it truly is a special day where teachers, students and their families can come together at The Music Center in celebration of each other’s differences, artistry and accomplishments.”

 

The Music Center has partnered with the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the Los Angeles Unified School District for 34 years in presenting this festival. All 80 districts in Los Angeles County are invited to participate. The Very Special Arts Festival is sponsored in part by LSMK Investments, The Binder Foundation, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, The Music Center Leadership Council, and Nikkei Women Legacy Association.

 

For more information about the Festival, call (213) 213-972-3305 or visit musiccenter.org.

 

ABOUT AXIS DANCE COMPANY

 

AXIS grew out of a movement class for women who use wheelchairs taught by Thais Mazur who was the founding Artistic Director through 1997. AXIS was simply a group of people, dancers and non-dancers with and without disabilities that gathered together to create a dance piece. The piece was well received and there were continuing offers to perform and requests for classes. The budding company was also excited by the dance vocabulary that could be created by dancers with and without disabilities.

 

In 1997 Judith Smith led the company to new heights. Under her artistic direction, AXIS has commissioned works by Bill T. Jones, Stephen Petronio, Joe Goode, Victoria Marks, Ann Carlson, David Dorfman, Alex Ketley, Joanna Haigood, Sonya Delwaide, and Margaret Jenkins and worked with composers Meredith Monk, Fred Frith and Joan Jeanrenaud. Additionally, AXIS’ own choreographers have created numerous repertory works - expanding AXIS’ repertory to over 75 works.

 

Acclaimed by critics around the world, AXIS is the recipient of multiple awards and honors. “If art is supposed to change how we think, how we view the world, then credit AXIS Dance Company for a blazing artistic vision,” said Sid Smith in the Chicago Tribune. Bruce Weber in The New York Times said, “Like much that is surprising in art … AXIS’s work instructs the viewer in how to appreciate it, and the lesson is delivered with cogent force: Sympathy is irrelevant. Forget what isn’t here, and pay attention to what is.” Bill T. Jones said, “There is no more defiant a land that I can think of than AXIS. They showed me what dance could be.“

 

AXIS also dramatically expanded its education and outreach programs creating Dance Access for Adults and Dance Access/KIDS!

 

Amongst many honors, AXIS has received seven Isadora Duncan Dance Awards with equal number of nominations. Most recently, the Company was featured to great acclaim on an episode of FOX Television’s series, So You Think You Can Dance! and filmed an episode for AOL’s ‘You’ve Got’ Campaign. Additionally, AXIS was featured on KQED’s SPARK program and KRCB’s One in 5 Stories. AXIS was one of 5 named ‘Best Dance Companies in San Francisco’ by CBS San Francisco (2011) and one of the Bay Area’s top 10 high-impact arts nonprofits by Philanthropedia (2010).

 

ABOUT GRAND PARK

 

A vibrant outdoor community gathering place for all, Grand Park adds a new spirit and vitality to downtown and is a beautiful public park for the entire community in Los Angeles County. With expansive green space for gatherings large and small, Grand Park celebrates the cultural vitality of Los Angeles County and is host to community events, cultural experiences, holiday celebrations and many other activities that engage and attract visitors from all communities throughout the county. One of the biggest parks in downtown Los Angeles, the 12-acre Grand Park stretches from The Music Center on the west to City Hall on the east. Under the direction of the county, Grand Park was developed by Related Companies with an award-winning creative team, including landscape architect, Rios Clementi Hale Studios; general contractor, Charles Pankow Builders; environmental graphic design firm, Sussman/Prejza; and fountain design consultants, Fluidity. For more information, visit GrandParkLA.org

 

ABOUT THE MUSIC CENTER

 

A leader at the cultural heart of Los Angeles County, The Music Center brings to life one of the world’s premier arts destinations by creating opportunities for arts participation, enabling compelling programming and providing first-class venues and services. The Music Center is one of the largest and most highly regarded performing arts centers in the country, creating a cultural hub that is central to L.A.’s status as “the creative capital” of the world. Celebrated for its illustrious dance programming Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center and home to four world-class resident companies– Centre Theatre Group, LA Opera, LA Phil, and Los Angeles Master Chorale – The Music Center is the place to experience the most innovative and critically-acclaimed performing arts in the nation. In its effort to extend the reach and accessibility of the performing arts, The Music Center is a national model for experiences in which people participate directly through its Active Arts® at The Music Center. As well, The Music Center presents special productions, events and festivals for children and families, including World City™ at The Music Center. Each year, over one million audience members delight in the excitement of live performances on The Music Center’s stages and enjoy free community arts events all year long across its outdoor campus. The Music Center is also on the forefront of arts education in Los Angeles, providing arts resources to students and teachers in schools and community centers throughout the region. For more information, visit musiccenter.org.

 

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