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Healing and development from… the arts

This afternoon, The Hub would like to draw your attention to the (positive) effects arts participation has on the human body. Exposure is certainly nice, but we focus specifically today on the actual doing. And before going further, these come by way of NASAA – the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.


First, dance. Without being overly general, all it takes is a look at a professional dancer to know dance is, at least physically, good for you. But recent data from Australia shows that older adults who participate in dance classes see “increases in physical, cognitive and emotional well-being and as well as a general sense of achievement.” See study here. Closer to home, those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease can seek symptom relief through participation (there’s that word again) in dance classes from Ballet Spartanburg (right, dancer Charlotte Lanning). The company received the 2018 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts yesterday in part because of offering its community classes like this, which can also help those who have experienced a stroke or disorders like autism, dementia, or multiple sclerosis. Ballet Spartanburg offers the only course of this type in the Upstate, and it's led by Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo. Winifred Walsh, who leads a Parkinson’s support group in Spartanburg, had this to say about the course in her support letter for the company’s Verner Awards nomination:

To receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease at age 53 is a life-changer ... A friend urged me to join Spartanburg’s PD Support Group and the Dance for PD class offered by Ballet Spartanburg. I went and I was horrified at first look. I thought, ‘I am not like those people!’ But curiosity got the better of me and I stayed and have stayed for some nine years now. And guess what? I am exactly like those people, people with Parkinson’s who are not wasting time on self-pity ... Ballet Spartanburg Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo has set the bar high for our teachers who find joy in our attempts, who rejoice with us in our successes, who laugh with us often ... Outreach seems such a simple term for such complex blessings to me and to others who have movement and balance disorders. We offer gratitude to Ballet Spartanburg for improving our lives through dance, and also through love. We are not merely people with Parkinson’s. Ballet Spartanburg has made us dancers.”

Learn more about the additional benefits of this program by clicking here.
Second, music. The National Endowment for the Arts is talking music training, which is how people get ready for … participation (that’s a hat trick). Two recent articles “find that music education not only strengthens creativity but also improves brain functions related to language development, attention, visuospatial perception, planning and other executive functions, and short-term and working memory.” Music training can be found, almost literally, everywhere. But lessons can be costly, to say nothing of other potential barriers. But four of the professional orchestras the South Carolina Arts Commission helps fund offer the interactive Link Up program from Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute. Link Up partners orchestras with schools (home, private, and public) or school districts to offer an interactive musical curriculum in schools that teach students lessons in theory and can teach them how to use the recorder. The program usually culminates with a trip to see the professionals perform locally, with a twist: during the Link Up concert, the students can play recorders along with the musicians on stage! The four South Carolina orchestras that offered Link Up concerts during the 2017/2018 school year are the Aiken and Charleston symphonies and South Carolina (Columbia) and Spartanburg philharmonics.

Gov. McMaster to present 2018 S.C. Arts Awards on May 2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 19 April 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. – The seven individuals and three groups visiting the State House to receive the 2018 South Carolina Arts Awards Wednesday, May 2 at 10:30 a.m. will do so from a high-profile presenter: Gov. Henry McMaster. The governor’s office confirmed his third appearance at the annual awards ceremony, his second as governor. Gov. McMaster first presented the awards in 2016 as lieutenant governor in then-Gov. Nikki Haley’s stead. “Gov. McMaster making time for the arts and folklife communities of South Carolina means a lot to all of us, and we’re excited to welcome him back to the South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony,” South Carolina Arts Commission Board President Henry Horowitz said. The South Carolina Arts Awards are a joint presentation by the South Carolina Arts Commission, South Carolina Arts Foundation, and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina to award the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. Five recipients from their respective categories are being recognized with Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:

  • ARTIST: Tom Stanley, Rock Hill
  • INDIVIDUAL: Alan Ethridge, Greenville
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Anne S. Richardson, Columbia
  • BUSINESS: Bank of America, Columbia
  • ORGANIZATION: Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg
Four artists and one advocate are being recognized with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award as practitioners and advocates of traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multigenerational nature, and its fusion of artistic and utilitarian ideals. They are:
  • The Blackville Community Choir (Blackville): A Capella Spiritual and Gospel Singing
  • Michael King (Greenville): Piedmont blues
  • Henrietta Snype (Mount Pleasant): Sweetgrass basketry
  • Deacon James Garfield Smalls (St. Helena Island): Traditional spirituals
  • Stephen Criswell (Lancaster): Folklife & Traditional Arts Advocacy
The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale from 11 a.m. to noon, supporting S.C. Arts Commission programs. For $100, guests may also participate in a “basket grab” for surprise gift baskets with items representing a county or region of the state. The luncheon program is expected to run from 12:15 to 2 p.m., with readings by South Carolina Literary Fellows and a special presentation by the Blackville Community Choir. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase here or by calling 803.734.8696.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696. ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS FOUNDATION The South Carolina Arts Foundation supports and raises awareness of the arts development programs for communities, schools, and artists coordinated by the South Carolina Arts Commission. The Arts Foundation pursues creative ways to help the business community and private citizens contribute to a thriving arts community across the state as a non-profit, 501(c)3 that’s forged a strategic partnership with the Arts Commission to supports its work and goals. Learn more at SouthCarolinaArts.com/Foundation. ABOUT MCKISSICK MUSEUM The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Museum is open from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday through Friday, 11:00am – 3:00pm Saturdays. The Museum is closed Sundays and University holidays. For more information, please call at 803-777-7251 or visit http://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/artsandsciences/mckissick_museum/.

S.C. Arts Awards: Ballet Spartanburg

2018 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2018 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 10 days to focus on this year's 10 recipients: five receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at USC. This week, the Verner Awards recipients are featured.
[caption id="attachment_34827" align="alignright" width="205"] Dancer Charlotte Lanning[/caption]

Ballet Spartanburg

Organization Category Ballet Spartanburg’s mission is to promote dance and dance appreciation in Spartanburg County and surrounding areas by providing the highest quality dance training, education, performance and outreach. In 1966, a group of 85 ballet enthusiasts and visionaries under the leadership of the late Majorie Riggs, met at Converse College and decided that Spartanburg needed to have the opportunity to enjoy live classical ballet. They began working as a group to create a charter named The Ballet Guild of Spartanburg. Memberships were $5 for an Active Member, $15 for a Patron, and $25 for a Sponsor membership. Today, Ballet Spartanburg is recognized as a regional dance company with an exceptional commitment to education and outreach activities in the Upstate. Ballet Spartanburg has performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, the Koger Center in Columbia, at the Peace Center in Greenville, TEDxTryon and in Houston and Forest City. For the past five years, Ballet Spartanburg has retained the only resident professional company in the Upstate, one of only four in the state of South Carolina. The Company has performed in Houston, Texas, and North and South Carolina. The Center for Dance Education began in 1967 under the direction of the late Barbara Ferguson. The Center now instructs 350 students from over 30 ZIP codes, all under the direction on Ballet Mistress Lona Gomez. With an ever-growing outreach program, Ballet Spartanburg offers lecture/ demonstrations in partnership with Spartanburg school districts with after school programs, in-school performances, artists in residence, and free performances of Peter & the Wolf. Ballet Spartanburg also partners with the City of Spartanburg to offer summer programs for at-risk youth and the Boys and Girls Club of the Upstate and offers performances at nursing homes, hospitals, and community events. Celebrating 51 years embedded in the Spartanburg community, Ballet Spartanburg’s programming continues to evolve with the dance needs of the community and its students, adding new variations of dance classes with opportunities to extend dance knowledge, technique and new performances to new audiences. For more, visit BalletSpartanburg.org.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Gov. Henry McMaster will present each recipient's award beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the State House. The event is open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Arts Commission announces five 2018 recipients of Verner Awards for the Arts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27 February 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission is announcing the five South Carolinians to receive the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts – the highest arts honor in the state – in 2018. The following five recipients from their respective categories are being recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:

  • ARTIST: Tom Stanley, Rock Hill
  • INDIVIDUAL: Alan Ethridge, Greenville
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Dr. Anne S. Richardson, Columbia
  • BUSINESS: Bank of America, Columbia
  • ORGANIZATION: Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg
“Each recipient of these Verner Awards is an outstanding ambassador for our state and contributes greatly not just to the arts community, but the overall quality of life," S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz said. "Such dedication to the arts benefits South Carolina’s people and, as we’ve just learned, adds to the arts’ $9.7 billion impact on our state’s economic vitality. As the Arts Commission nears completion of its 50th anniversary celebration, we are honored to recognize organizations and individuals who live out the service, commitment and passion that helped the arts here thrive throughout the last half century.” A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board and drawn from members of the South Carolina community at large, reviews all nominations and, after a rigorous process, makes recommendations to the Board for final approval after a series of panel meetings produces a recommendation from each category. The 2018 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life. Awards will be presented Wednesday, May 2 in a morning ceremony at the State House. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale to support the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and are to be available for purchase by mid-March. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon, call 803.734.8696 or visit SouthCarolinaArts.com.
ABOUT THE VERNER AWARD RECIPIENTS
  • Tom Stanley (Artist Category) is the recently retired chair of the Winthrop University Department of Fine Arts. He was the first director of the university galleries and became department chair in 2007. The native Texan earned two graduate degrees from USC and taught on college faculties in Arkansas and Florida before returning to South Carolina. He increased student artist and department visibility while at Winthrop through partnerships in both Carolinas. His work has been exhibited throughout the southeast and in four European countries, and he has completed commissions for public art in several states. He resides in Rock Hill.
  • Alan Ethridge (Individual Category) became executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council in Greenville in 2005 and maintains the position after previously serving as its director of marketing and development. A tireless and selfless advocate of the arts, he has universal recognition in the Upstate for playing a critical, leading role in fostering a growing arts environment. Ethridge is a summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University and previously worked in fundraising at Clemson University. He resides in Greenville.
  • Dr. Anne S. Richardson (Arts in Education Category) entered the teaching profession in the late 1980s while continuing to dance professionally until 1995. She started a jazz dance company in Columbia in 1987 and taught ballet in various public schools while earning her graduate degrees. In 2001 she began the dance program at Palmetto Center for the Arts. She aspires to create original thinking through arts integration in her students at Westwood High School in Blythewood, where she is a drama teacher and former chair of the fine arts department. She resides in Columbia.
  • Bank of America (Business Category) has a rich history of commitment to the arts, which translates into global programs as well as local support for what is most relevant in each community it serves. In South Carolina, the bank has given more than $2 million to support the arts across the state and arts disciplines in recent years, its associates have contributed 81,000 volunteer hours in the last five years, and associates will serve on four boards in 2018. Its South Carolina headquarters are in Columbia.
  • The mission of Ballet Spartanburg (Organization Category) is to promote dance and dance appreciation in Spartanburg County and surrounding areas by providing the highest quality dance training, education, performance, and outreach. Ballet Spartanburg is recognized as a regional dance company with an exceptional commitment to education and outreach activities in the Upstate. It is headquartered in Spartanburg.

ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

On your toes: Ballet Spartanburg celebrating 50th anniversary

Ballet Spartanburg receives a General Operating Support grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission. From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal Article by Dan Armonaitis; photo by Tim Kimzey

(Image: Spartanburg Ballet dance company principal dancers, from left, Nichola Montt, Will Scott, Analay Saiz, Will Robichaud, and Meghan Loman, rehearse at the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg) When a group of 85 ballet enthusiasts and visionaries, led by the late Majorie Riggs, got together in 1966 to form what would later become known as Ballet Spartanburg, few could have imagined the tremendous growth the organization would experience over the next half-century. But as it celebrates its 50th anniversary during the 2016-17 season, Ballet Spartanburg has cemented its role as a key member of the city's thriving arts community. The nonprofit organization now has its own professional ballet company and a highly-regarded dance education program. It has also expanded its public outreach and continues to present multiple performances each year. "When it was chartered as the Ballet Guild of Spartanburg, the concept was basically just to be a presenting organization," Ballet Spartanburg executive director Teresa Hough said. "But over the years we've offered so much more." The 50th anniversary season kicked off with a family-friendly ballet, "The Little Mermaid," in October, and Ballet Spartanburg is gearing up now for its annual production of the holiday classic, "The Nutcracker," which will be performed Friday, Saturday and Dec. 11. The 2016-17 season will continue in February with an intimate performance, "Fire & Passion," which is part of Ballet Spartanburg's Studio Series. DanSynergy 9, with a theme of "Celebrating the Power of Women," will be presented in March, followed by "An American in Paris" in April. "Education certainly is a very important part of our mission and so is the outreach, but the high quality of the performances that we present to the audiences is also very important," said Carlos Agudelo, who has served as Ballet Spartanburg's artistic director since 1991. "We see the growing enthusiasm of the people who come to the performances — the standing ovations and just a lot of compliments — and it encourages us. "The thing we want to do with ballet is to explore social themes and other things that are relevant to our society, so, in general, we have to be creative, we have to be open to change and we have to be willing to develop new experiences." In its first few decades, Ballet Spartanburg presented performances by some of the most notable ballet companies in the world, including the National Ballet of Washington, D.C., Houston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. It also hosted a 1988 performance by international ballet superstar Rudolf Nureyev, who substituted for an injured Mikhail Baryshnikov. "I sat in the third row and I remember looking up at (Nureyev) and being like, 'I cannot believe this is happening,'" Hough said. "That was a major fundraiser, and it was just great." Since 2013, Ballet Spartanburg has had its own professional dance company, which has added a new dynamic to the performances and to the educational and public outreach aspects of the organization. The only professional dance company in the Upstate and one of only three in South Carolina, Ballet Spartanburg hires top-notch dancers from around the world to showcase their respective talents. "It's amazing that (Ballet Spartanburg) has been around for 50 years and that it's been so successful," said Nichola Montt, a Boston native and member of Ballet Spartanburg's professional company. "They've got a really great community here, and I think a lot of it has to do with the hard work that Carlos and (ballet mistress) Lona (Gomez) put into it." Having its own professional company allows Ballet Spartanburg to present high-quality performances without having to hire outside professionals as it did previously. Now, the students at the Center for Dance Education have an opportunity to work with professional dancers on a regular basis as opposed to only a few days before a public performance as had been the case. "The fact that my 6- and 4-year-old daughters, Wallace and Harriet, get to work with professional ballet dancers in Spartanburg is a huge deal," said Griffin Lynch, who served as president of Ballet Spartanburg from 2012-2014 and took classes with the Dance Center as a youth. Referring to one of Ballet Spartanburg's professional dancers, Lynch added, "Miss Analay (Saiz), who played 'The Little Mermaid,' is both girls' teacher, and for them to be able to sit in the audience and watch their teacher on stage in that role is really inspiring." Will Robichaud, who grew up in Woodruff and took classes at the Dance Center for much of his youth, was recently added to Ballet Spartanburg's roster of professional dancers. He initially got into dance by following in the footsteps of his older sister, Natalie, who is now a business professional in Brooklyn, N.Y. "The discipline that they taught us when we were really young has definitely stuck with us," Robichaud said. Robichaud's mother, Amy, said the lessons her children learned from Ballet Spartanburg can be carried throughout life. "When our daughter, Natalie, started an entry-level job, she said she remembered Carlos saying, 'there is no small part, everybody has to do their own part,'" Amy Robichaud recalled. "And when Will went to study with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, he had not only very sound technical training but he also had an appreciation for the hard work you have to put into it." The vision for the Center for Dance Education started in 1967 when the late Barbara Ferguson began teaching ballet classes. The actual dance school opened in 1976. Now, nearly 400 students, from toddlers to senior citizens, study dance through programs offered by the Center for Dance Education. Gomez said one of the reasons for the school's success is its emphasis on teaching dance in a non-competitive environment. "In this day and age, children are used to very quick rewards," said Gomez, who is in her 22nd season with Ballet Spartanburg. "Here, we want them to understand that it's a journey. Not everybody advances at the same pace. "It's about learning things slowly and mastering them, and then when you have mastered them, you go on to the next level. You're not supposed to compare yourself to the person next to you. We try to celebrate their individuality." The classroom methods used by Gomez and Agudelo seem to be effective, given the success of many of the Center for Dance Education's alumni. Among those who have gone on to pursue ballet as a career are McGee Maddox, now a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, and Chase Brock, now a prolific choreographer whose credits include the Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark." "Our goal is to develop the students' full potential and give them opportunities to perform," Agudelo said, "but we also want to develop their kinesthetic intelligence, which facilitates other academic forms of learning and teaches life skills." Throughout the years, Ballet Spartanburg has continued to increase its public outreach. The organization works with area schools, offering ballet demonstrations and a free annual performance of "Peter and the Wolf" while also providing summer programs for at-risk youths in inner-city housing projects and at the Boys and Girls Club of the Upstate. Ballet Spartanburg gives performances at nursing homes, hospitals, and various community events while also offering classes for students with special needs, including Parkinson's disease patients. And three years ago, it began presenting a sensory-sensitive production of "The Nutcracker," geared primarily to students from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. "My wife Roberta and I are in health care, and their Parkinson's class is something that's truly amazing," said Tom Jennings, who served as president of Ballet Spartanburg from 1996-1998. "They're one of the few ballet companies in the United States that do these classes, and that's probably one of the things I'm most delighted about." Ballet Spartanburg is housed in the Chapman Cultural Center. "We are not a huge metropolis where you'd normally find a ballet company, so it's really special what we have here," said Chapman Cultural Center president and CEO Jennifer Evins, who was a Ballet Spartanburg board member in the mid-1990s. "It's pretty rare to have dance presented four or five times a year in a city our size, but I think it's a reflection of our entire community and how we value the arts." Hough said Ballet Spartanburg, as a nonprofit, would not have endured for the past 50 years without the support of corporate sponsors and individual donors. "We're extremely fortunate to have so many people who believe in what we're trying to accomplish," she said. "We're all about culture, we're about diversity, we're about collaborations, and we're about creativity. We're not about just being a teeny, tiny little school that's just for the served; we're for the underserved and for bringing in those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to dance." For more information about Ballet Spartanburg, the Center for Dance Education, and upcoming performances visit www.balletspartanburg.org.

“The Nutcracker” Takes South Carolina Stages This Holiday Season

"The Nutcracker" ballet is a holiday tradition for many families around the world. South Carolina arts groups are producing opportunities for experiencing this classic story in all parts of the state. Ballet Spartanburg, December 11-13 at Converse College in Spartanburg Carolina Ballet Theatre, December 4-6 at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville Charleston Ballet Theatre Center for Dance Education, December 11-13 at the Sottile Theatre in Charleston Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre, December 12-13 & 19-20 at Coastal Carolina University in Conway Columbia City Ballet, December 12-13 & 19-20 at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia Columbia Classical Ballet, December 4-6 at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia Foothills Conservatory for the Performing Arts, December 12-13 at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts in Clemson Greenville Ballet, December 19 at Furman University in Greenville International Ballet, December 12-13 at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville Orangeburg Civic Ballet, December 12-13 at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg York County Ballet, December 17-20 at Winthrop University in Rock Hill

Performing arts presenters invited to apply for South Arts’ Dance Touring Initiative

Nonprofit performing arts presenters across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee are encouraged to visit the Dance Touring Initiative area of South Arts’ website for information about applying to be part of the upcoming third cohort to receive training and support in presenting modern dance. The application deadline is Jan. 23, 2015. Through DTI, two cohorts totaling 20 performing arts presenters in eight Southern states have received training and support in all aspects of presenting modern dance. Participants in the two cohorts have traveled to dance festivals including Jacob’s Pillow and American Dance Festival, worked with specialists to gain deeper understanding of the wide artistic range of the art forms, and received subsidies to engage leading companies for performances and residencies. The initiative, launched in 2009, is building a broad and deep network of performing arts presenters throughout the South that can bring modern dance and contemporary ballet companies as part of their season for public performances and artist residencies.Two South Carolina organizations, Ballet Spartanburg and Coker College Department of Dance in Hartsville, were chosen as participants for the initial cohort in 2009. Image: Koresh Dance Company, one of three companies providing multi-day residencies for cohort participants during the 2014-2015 season. About South Arts South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org. Via: South Arts

Ballet Spartanburg receives grant from Dizzy Feet Foundation

Ballet Spartanburg is the recipient of a $7,500 grant from the Dizzy Feet Foundation. The money will be used in Ballet Spartanburg's outreach efforts to provide more dance opportunities and education to children, specifically the members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Upstate. "We are just so thrilled," said Susan Woodham, dance teacher and outreach coordinator at Ballet Spartanburg. "Offering dance and dance instruction to children in Spartanburg is a high priority for Ballet Spartanburg. To be recognized and supported by Dizzy Feet certainly adds to Ballet Spartanburg's professional status on the national stage. Ballet Spartanburg is among the 5 percent chosen to receive a grant from all of the applications that Dizzy Feet received. This money will to enable us to sustain and improve the program at the Boys & Girls Clubs. The children and youth will be able to understand, appreciate, and enjoy dance on a higher and more personal level." Ballet Spartanburg outreachBallet Spartanburg has a strong educational outreach program that aids the local community in a variety of ways. Through community outreach, the beauty of dance and the joy of participation are brought to all segments of the Spartanburg community. A few examples of current programs:

  • Partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Spartanburg School District 7, and City of Spartanburg.
  • Demonstrations at more than two dozen Spartanburg County schools.
  • “Peter and the Wolf,” offered free of charge to all Spartanburg County school children from kindergarten through fifth grade. Study guides and grade-level appropriate activities that connect to the classroom curriculum are provided.
  • Performances and dance demonstrations to nursing homes, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.
  • Free dance/movement classes for Parkinson ’s disease patients twice a month.
For more information about Ballet Spartanburg and the Dizzy Feet grant, call Woodham at (864) 921-2507. About Ballet Spartanburg Ballet Spartanburg’s mission is to promote dance appreciation in Spartanburg County and surrounding areas by providing quality dance presentation, education, and outreach. Since 1966, Ballet Spartanburg has enriched lives through the art of dance by presenting national and international dance companies. Today, Ballet Spartanburg is recognized as a regional dance company with an exceptional commitment to education and outreach activities in the Upstate. Ballet Spartanburg has performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, at the Koger Center in Columbia, at the Peace Center in Greenville, and in Tryon and Forest City, North Carolina. Ballet Spartanburg is one of eight cultural arts "partner" organizations housed at and funded by Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg. About the Dizzy Feet Foundation Dizzy Feet Foundation was founded in 2009 by producer Nigel Lythgoe and director Adam Shankman, among others, to support, improve, and increase access to dance education in the United States. The foundation provides grants to community organizations and other tax-exempt entities in the United States that provide dance education programs to children in low-income areas and disadvantaged communities. Through its grant recipients, DFF seeks to give children the experience of dance, to educate them about the many styles of dance, and to expose them to the lifelong benefits of dance. For more details about Dizzy Feet, visit www.dizzyfeetfoundation.org. About the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Upstate The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Upstate is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need it the most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. The Spartanburg branch has about 2,000 participants, reaching about 1,000 daily. There are potentially 8,000 more students who could be served. Via: Ballet Spartanburg

South Arts receives $450,000 grant to build modern dance and contemporary ballet audiences

ATLANTA – South Arts has received a grant of $450,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support its Dance Touring Initiative (DTI) through 2018. The initiative, launched in 2009, is building a broad and deep network of performing arts presenters throughout the South that can bring modern dance and contemporary ballet companies as part of their season for public performances and artist residencies. “Our data showed that access to modern dance and contemporary ballet was declining throughout the South, especially outside our most major metropolitan areas,” explained Nikki Estes, South Arts’ program director for DTI. “We developed this initiative to engage new audiences and stakeholders across the region with these important artforms.” Through DTI, two cohorts totaling 20 performing arts presenters in eight Southern states have been selected to receive training and support in all aspects of presenting modern dance. Participants in the two cohorts have travelled to dance festivals including Jacob’s Pillow and American Dance Festival, worked with specialists to gain deeper understanding of the wide artistic range of the artforms, and received subsidies to engage leading companies for performances and residencies. Together, the presenters have worked with companies such as David Dorfman Dance, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, River North Dance Chicago, and Lula Washington Dance Theatre, engaging over 33,000 people throughout the region with contemporary ballet and modern dance. A third cohort of up to 10 presenters will be selected in 2015. Two South Carolina organizations, Ballet Spartanburg and Coker College Department of Dance in Hartsville, were chosen as participants for the initial cohort in 2009. “We are extremely grateful for this major support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,” said Suzette M. Surkamer, executive director of South Arts. “Their support allows us to ensure that DTI creates long-lasting and impactful changes throughout the region as we foster a network of colleagues with the experience and knowledge to develop new audiences." Nonprofit performing arts presenters across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee are encouraged to visit the Dance Touring Initiative area of South Arts’ website for information about applying to be part of the upcoming third cohort. The application deadline is Jan. 23, 2015. Image: Koresh Dance Company, one of three companies providing multi-day residencies for cohort participants during the 2014-2015 season. About South Arts South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org. Via: South Arts

Ballet Spartanburg debuts new professional dance company

From GoUpstate.com; article by Cody H.  Owens, marketing assistant at the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg.

Like a well-oiled machine, Ballet Spartanburg's new professional dance company performs as a unit, in sync and in step. Jumping into one another's arms and leaping hand in hand, they move and collaborate with all the fluidity of art in motion. Floating almost silently across the dance floor, they listen to the director's instructions and then execute them with precision and straight-faced determination. Founded in 1966, Ballet Spartanburg has spent many years dreaming, hoping, and planning, and now as a result, Spartanburg has a professional dance company — individuals who actually make their living by dancing together. Within this troupe of professional dancers are six young men and women from all over the Western hemisphere. Seed funding to launch the company was made by a generous donor in 2010, and when board members realized they were spending annual operating resources on outside guest artists for major productions, they came to the realization this same money could be spent to support a professional resident company. Earlier this year, applications came in from Russia, Italy, Spain and other international locations. Auditions were held in June and July, then in September, Ballet Spartanburg's new professional dance company of well-trained performers was born. The six new arrivals are Leslie Fuentes of Mexico, Nichola Montt of Massachusetts, Daynier Rivero of Cuba, Kristina Roper of Canada, Analay Saiz of Cuba and Will Scott of Georgia. McCree O'Kelley, an assistant professor of dance at Converse College, is serving temporarily as a guest artist as well. All of the dancers have remarkable resumes. Young as the new hires may be — they range in age from 22 to 25 years old — these enthusiastic dancers already have achieved high accolades in their careers. Take Saiz, for instance, who after graduating from the National School of Arts in Havana, joined the National Ballet of Cuba. Like Saiz, Rivero and Fuentes have worked professionally with the prestigious Ballet de Monterrey in Mexico. Montt attended the intensive summer program Dance New York International in Paris, while her newfound roommate Roper performed on the high seas aboard Princess Cruises with Royal City Youth Ballet. University of Alabama graduate Scott has worked under such names as Cornelius Carter, Clay Taliaferro and Qianping Guo. You don't have to know what a “cou-de-pied sur le” is to understand how impressive these new additions to Spartanburg are. Almost as marvelous as the dancers themselves are is how they work together. With half of the dancers speaking English as a second language, “there's at least somewhat of a language barrier,” Scott said. Nevertheless, the diversity has driven the group even harder. Coming from various areas beyond their native borders, these professionals have come together to speak the international language of dance. But body language aside, it's Ballet Spartanburg's Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo who frequently serves as translator-in-chief. The group has been together for only a couple of months, but with rigorous training comes intensive bonding. A few dancers carpool to the Dance Center studios at Chapman Cultural Center. Some are roommates. Two even recently tied the knot. But training five days a week, they all essentially live together on the dance floor. Step into rehearsals, and you'd never know they had only met just months ago. “We're very hardworking and focused individuals,” Roper said. “Everyone wants to be here. Everyone is putting everything they have into it.” According to Agudelo, this new professional dance company means great things. It provides opportunity for the dancers to more organically express themselves. It means dance students right here in Spartanburg can see others making a living of their passion. It turns top-notch international talent into local residents. It allows Ballet Spartanburg to not only bring the community to the Center but the Center to the community in outreach programs. And it fosters further collaboration, growing another world-class sense of pride in the heart of Spartanburg. “I when I first arrived here 22 years ago, I had many goals for Ballet Spartanburg: to make the transition from a presenting organization to a performing organization: to acquire our own sets and costumes, in particular for 'The Nutcracker,' to present a diversity of high quality productions, to enhance our outreach programs in order to provide life affirming dance activities for all members of our community and to create a ballet company. Achieving this last goal is truly exciting for us, although I am aware that fueling this engine of artistic progress will require a lot of financial support,” said Agudelo, “but this is a wonderful beginning.” Spartanburg's dance lovers will get their first glimpse of the new troupe when they take to the stage at Twichell Auditorium for the annual production of “The Nutcracker” December 13-15. “I predict it will be the best yet,” Agudelo said. “In the past, I have always had to bring in outside soloists from other companies to fill leading roles. This year, we have our own professionals. These will be dancers who Spartanburg can get to know during this show and for many more to come. This is truly one of my dreams come true.”