There is a flurry of new performing arts venue construction and major renovations going on during this stalled economy.
New York City Center opens its refurbished doors with a Grand Re-Opening Celebration on October 25th. No program information yet, but you gotta assume the evening will include at least a little dance.
Down in Gainesville, Florida at Santa Fe College, they're about to have the inaugural performance in the new $17 million Fine Arts Hall which has a state of the art 606 seat theater. September 24th is the date for the Light Up The Night program which will include an appearance by Jose Manuel Carreno and Sarah Lane. Alberto Alonso served on the dance faculty at Santa Fe College for the last 15 years of his life.
Kansas City, Missouri is about to vault to the top with its brand spanking new 1800 seat Muriel Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts due to have its premiere performance on September 16th. Placido Domingo will perform as will the Kauffman Center's three resident companies: Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Additionally, KC Ballet is about to move into its brand new home, The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, which has seven studios including one that can be converted into a 180 seat performing space. Todd Bolender, you'll recall, danced for a very long time with NYCB and was the Artistic Director of the Kansas City Ballet from 1981 to 1995.
In October KC Ballet will present the world premiere of Tom Sawyer at the Kauffman Center. This three-act ballet is being choreographed by Artistic Director William Whitener to a commissioned score by Broadway composer Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic, Grand Hotel). Haglund blogged some details about the production several months ago here: Pas de Twain. It's exciting to see another new story ballet being developed, and one that is based on important American literature. If only this could be a trend . . . . Haglund is still tossing around the idea of going to KC for the premiere. Hopefully, the NY Times will send its book critic, not its dance critic, to review this important event. (The book critic recently wrote a meaningful and insightful review of Anna Karenina by the Mariinsky Ballet whereas the dance critic did not.) It is doubtful that the current dance critic has much knowledge of or fondness for Mark Twain. He would probably just blow his horn about whether or not he liked the choreography instead of writing about the importance of the event, the production, and the actual dancing.
KC's Tom Sawyer is further proof of the resurgence of creating story ballets in this country. KC Ballet has the whole city involved in its Twainphoria. All of Kansas City is reading and talking about Tom Sawyer and there's even a free download courtesy of the local library.
The Alabama School of Fine Arts is in the midst of building a brand new $8.3 million 500 seat venue for theater, music and dance which will open January 25th with a performance by soprano Angela Brown who you may recall from her holy moly performances of Aida at the Met Opera. That's holy moly as in being screamed by the audience. Ms. Brown will definitely test the roof and rafters of this new venue like few other sopranos can. She received some of her vocal training in Alabama, but is originally from the Indianapolis area where there is impressive new construction underway for performing arts facilities.
In Carmel, Indiana which is just outside of Indianapolis, The Center for the Performing Arts, a three venue state of the art complex is receiving its finishing touches. Michael Feinstein is the Artistic Director of the new center. The 1600 seat Palladium Theater had its grand opening in January. It's a beauty with a huge dome and limestone facade and columns. The 500 seat Tarkington Theater, named after Haglund's relative Booth who was one of America's important writers from the first half of the 20th century, will have its christening performance on August 6th. The press release mentioned that the evening would include a performance by American Ballet Theater dancers, but it did not give details.
Choreographers should look more at American literature for inspiration. Need a new children's ballet? What about one based on some of Penrod's misadventures? Give it an out-of-town premiere in the Indianapolis area where every other item in town is named after Tarkington. Positive press guaranteed. And then there's The Magnificent Ambersons . . . .
So that's the scoop on a few of the new performing arts venues that are springing up in places we don't read much about on a national basis. Attention must be paid – to perhaps suggest another story ballet. There are ideas everywhere.