Q&A with BalletX Co-Founder Christine Cox

Q&A with BalletX Co-Founder Christine Cox

On Thursday, Feb. 25 at 8pm, the Schaefer Center Presents virtual spring season features BalletX, one of the country’s most acclaimed contemporary ballet companies. The online event will include a recorded introduction by company co-founder Christine Cox, a documentary film in celebration of BalletX’s 15th anniversary season, and two popular mixed rep selections, “Increasing” and “Fancy Free.” Below Cox discusses how she and the company went “big and bold” in response to creating during a pandemic, embraced new challenges, and “are in it for the long haul.”

SCHAEFER CENTER PRESENTS: How has the company adjusted creatively and physically to the challenges of performing and creating during COVID, especially during this anniversary season?

CHRISTINE COX: I knew we had a long hard road ahead of us when making the decision to pivot the company to the virtual presentation of our work. I also had an intense sense of duty to do whatever it took to keep on supporting the dancers, staff and artists we had commissioned. Then the crazy idea came to go big and bold, by commissioning 15 new works in honor of our 15th anniversary season. The entire team at BalletX bonded together to do whatever it took to make it work. 

SCP: What has been learned as a company, as individual dancers, as creators by navigating these challenges?

CC: As a company we have learned that we are far more resilient than we thought, we learned that this art form is a lifeline for not only us but for our growing community, we learned that working together and caring for each other really do matter. Each dancer took on new aspects of the job, like creating dances, making films, developing editing skills and learning how to fundraise. The dancer also greatly appreciated the fact that we were able to keep working and instead of losing their job they gained perspective and insight into what it takes to keep a company alive during a worldwide pandemic. 

SCP: What does it mean to the dancers to be able to connect with a virtual audience as we look forward to a return to live performances?

CC: The dancers have been at the heart of our pivot as a company, because instead of dragging their feet and being annoyed at all the new things we were asking them to do, they embraced the challenges and brought new ideas. The dancers cannot wait to be back performing live for an audience. We are in it for the long haul and cannot wait to have the energy and spirit out in the house of a real theater. 

 

BalletX is FREE, but advance registration is required. Register here.

“The Schaefer Center Presents” Features Actor-Playwright Anna Deavere Smith in a Livestream Presentation of “Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity”

“The Schaefer Center Presents” Features Actor-Playwright Anna Deavere Smith in a Livestream Presentation of “Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity”
The award-winning Smith kicks off the spring season on Thursday, Feb. 4 with a live performance that blends “theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.”

BOONE, NC — The Schaefer Center Presents (SCP) performing arts series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, kicks off its Spring 2021 virtual season with An Evening with Anna Deavere Smith: Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity, Thursday, Feb. 4 at 8pm. This one-time livestream event with celebrated playwright/actor/educator Smith features moderation from the Schaefer Center stage by Dr. Paulette Marty, Professor of Theatre Arts at Appalachian State University. Ms. Smith will begin the evening with a storytelling presentation live from her home in New York City. An interactive Q&A session will follow the performance. The event is free, but registration is required. The event is supported in part by the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series at App State.

“Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity” was developed following research for Smith’s play Let Me Down Easy, wherein the playwright interviewed people in the U.S. and abroad who demonstrated grace in the face of dramatic challenges. Smith observed that, while we live in a winner-take-all society, part of our potential as humans is our potential for compassion and our resilience in the face of adversity. This storytelling speech celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, the power of empathy, the strength of imagination, and hope. 

Smith uses her singular brand of theatre to explore issues of community, character, and diversity in America. The MacArthur Foundation honored her with the “Genius” Fellowship for creating “a new form of theatre — a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.”

“I’m so grateful to have the chance to talk to one of my heroes,” says Marty, who has taught Smith’s work in her classrooms for decades, and as a result, approaches the event with a unique frame of reference. “Her thought-provoking, moving plays are great fodder for class discussions about the power and function of the arts in society. Watching Smith’s plays has changed the way I think about current events. Because the characters in her plays offer many different perspectives on an issue, they have inspired me to wonder how unheard people have been affected by events in the news. Reading a news story, I’ll ask myself, ‘How must her parents feel right now?’ or ‘What happened to the people who witnessed this?’ or ‘What’s it like for him to be alone in that place?. I trace those questions back to hearing about people’s experiences in her plays.”

The Q&A session between Smith and Marty will follow the presentation of Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity. Viewers are encouraged to put questions into the chat for Smith to address if time permits at the end of the regularly scheduled discussion. The virtual event is free of charge, but advance registration is required here. All registrants will receive a link to access the event both the day before and one hour prior to the performance.

TWILIGHT: LOST ANGELES FREE FILM SCREENING
As a complimentary companion piece to Smith’s appearance with the performing arts series, the acclaimed film adaption of Smith’s Tony-nominated play Twilight: Los Angeles is available to view at any time now through Feb. 4. The film tackles issues of race and social inequality that have become touchstones of her work. It can be accessed here


ABOUT ANNA DEAVERE SMITH
Playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith uses her singular brand of theatre to explore issues of community, character, and diversity in America. The MacArthur Foundation honored Smith with the “Genius” Fellowship for creating “a new form of theatre — a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.”

Best known for crafting more than 15 one-woman shows drawn from hundreds of interviews, Smith turns these conversations into scripts and transforms herself onstage into an astonishing number of characters. In her speaking events, Smith discusses the many “complex identities of America,” and interweaves her discussions with portrayals of people she has interviewed to illustrate the diversity of emotions and points of view on controversial issues.

Her most recent play, Notes from the Field, looks at the School-to-Prison Pipeline and injustice and inequality in low-income communities. Winner of an Obie Award and the 2017 Nortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show, Notes from the Field was named one of the Top 10 Plays of the year by Time magazine. The paperback adaptation of Notes from the Field is a collection of students and teachers, counselors and congressmen, preachers and prisoners, discussing their direct and indirect experiences with the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

In 2012, Smith was awarded the National Humanities Medal, presented by President Obama and in 2015, she was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She also is the recipient of the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and most recently, the 2017 Ridenhour Courage Prize and the George Polk Career Award for authentic journalism.

Smith’s breakthrough plays, Fires in the Mirror, a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize, and the Tony-nominated Twilight: Los Angeles, tackle issues of race and social inequality that have become touchstones of her work. Her portrayals of patients and medical professionals in Let Me Down Easy delivered a vivid look at healthcare in the United States.

Currently, Smith appears on ABC’s hit series Black-ish and the ABC legal drama For the People. She is probably most recognizable as the hospital administrator on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and the National Security Advisor on NBC’s The West Wing. Her films include The American PresidentRachel Getting Married, and Philadelphia.

Smith is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, which was launched at Harvard University and is now housed at New York University, where she is a Professor at Tisch School of the Arts. Her books include Letters to a Young Artist and Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines

She has been an Artist-in-Residence at MTV Networks, the Ford Foundation, and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Smith was appointed to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2017 U.S. Mayors Challenge Committee, a nationwide competition urging innovative solutions for the toughest issues confronting U.S. cities. She holds honorary degrees from Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Julliard, among others.

The Schaefer Center Presents… SPRING 2021 Virtual Season
Events are FREE; advance registration is required at theschaefercenter.org. All registrants will receive a link to access the event both the day before and one hour prior to the performance.

Thank you to our SPC sponsors:
The Horton Hotel, Creekside Electronics, Boone Tourism Development Authority, Our State Magazine, Spectrum Reach, High Country Radio, WDAV 89.9 FM, WFDD 88.5FM and WASU 90.5FM.
**The 2020-21 Schaefer Center Presents season is funded in part by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. www.NCArts.org 

About “The Schaefer Center Presents”
“The Schaefer Center Presents” is a series offering campus and community audiences a diverse array of music, dance and theatre programming designed to enrich the cultural landscape of the Appalachian State University campus and surrounding area. By creating memorable performance experiences and related educational and outreach activities, the series promotes the power and excitement of the live performance experience; provides a “window on the world” through the artistry of nationally and internationally renowned artists; and showcases some of the finest artists of our nation and our region. Musical events range from symphony orchestra and chamber music performances to jazz, folk, traditional, international, and popular artists. Theatre productions run the gamut from serious drama to musical comedy. Dance performances offer an equally wide array of styles, from ballet to modern dance to international companies representing cultural traditions from around the world. For more information, visit http://theschaefercenter.org.

EVENT RELEASE

Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
An Appalachian Summer Festival
Appalachian State University
PO Box 32045
Boone, NC  28608-2045

Jan. 15, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information contact: Allison West, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, 828-262-6084, ext. 107 or westal1@appstate.edu.

For event details, visit theschaefercenter.org.

NC Black Repertory Company’s The Resurrection of Alice

Up Next on the Schaefer Center Presents Free Virtual Series: NC Black Repertory Company’s The Resurrection of Alice
Filmed on the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts stage exclusively for the fall 2020 series.

BOONE, NC — The second event in The Schaefer Center Presents (SCP) virtual performing arts series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, features a streamed production of North Carolina Black Repertory Company’s dramatic play The Resurrection of Alice, about a young girl trapped in an arranged marriage in mid-20th century South Carolina, Thursday, Oct. 29 at 8pm. The award-winning, Winston-Salem, NC-based theatre company filmed the play on the stage of the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts especially for the virtual series. The event is free of charge, but advance registration is required at TheSchaeferCenter.org.

Filming a play written and designed for the stage and adapting it for the screen, says Alexander, was “challenging yet exciting. The staging, lighting, performance — all of these things had to be adjusted to fit the medium. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun. And we were definitely able to capture/find new moments in the show, while also capturing the essence of a ‘live theatre experience’ for our audiences.” Pivoting from stage to screen is also a necessity at a time when live events are not really feasible, a course that the company is navigating by “finding ways to engage audiences without sacrificing the quality of our work. Creativity fuels the artistic process, and 2020 is forcing artists of all disciplines to dig deep into their toolboxes.”

The Resurrection of Alice — written and performed by Perri Gaffney and directed by Jackie Alexander — is inspired by the countless forgotten lives of young black girls who found themselves in arranged marriages to men that were usually community pillars, financially comfortable and old enough to be their grandfathers. This type of arrangement, prevalent throughout many countries and cultures, was once a fairly common practice amongst African Americans through the mid-1900s.

In rural 1948 South Carolina, 15-year-old Alice looks forward to graduating from high school (a family first) and attending college on the scholarship she has earned. But her plans are devastated when she learns that she must honor her parents’ secret marriage arrangements for her to Luthern Tucker, the lonely, old family benefactor who had been eyeing her since she was seven years old. Alice’s next 20 years of overcoming trials are a tribute to the power of nurturing and healing that can cause a broken spirit to be reborn.

Because the tradition of arranged nuptials continues, The Resurrection of Alice has a contemporary, universal social appeal to anyone seeking to understand how and why this tradition remains as well as some possible emotional, psychological, and physical tolls that may plague both the betrothed and their families, if the union is not a happy one. The play is recommended for ages 12 and older.

“The issue addressed in the play is still prevalent in societies across the globe today,” says Alexander, underscoring the relevance of this period play in the 21st century. “Shining a light on any problem is the first step to confronting it.” Plus, he adds, audiences will witness “the power and resilience of the human spirit. They will also get a Master Class in acting (courtesy of Gaffney) — lol.”

In mid-September, Alexander and Gaffney conducted masterclasses for Appalachian State University theatre students, focusing on the audition process and playwriting. 

The Schaefer Center Presents – FREE Fall 2020 Virtual Season
Thanks to a group of generous sponsors, all events are FREE, but advance registration is required at theschaefercenter.org. Registrants will receive a confirmation email, a day-before reminder, and a private link to access the event one hour prior to the performance. All SCP events are one-time only exclusive showings. Anyone who wishes to make a donation in any amount to support the series and its mission may do so on the website. The spring series will be announced soon, with plans to continue the virtual format throughout the spring semester.

For more information on the SCP 2020-21 season and to register for events, visit http://theschaefercenter.org/ or call 828-262-4046.

COMING SOON…

Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020
Watkins Family Hour – 8pm

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020
JANE – 7pm
 

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020
Reasons for Hope: A Virtual Discussion with Dr. Jane Goodall – 8pm

Friday, Dec. 4, 2020
Hayes School of Music: Holiday Scholarship Concert – 8pm

Thank You to Our SPC Sponsors:
The Horton Hotel, Creekside Electronics, Boone Tourism Development Authority, Our State Magazine, Spectrum Reach, High Country Radio, WDAV 89.9 FM, WFDD 88.5FM and WASU 90.5FM

About “The Schaefer Center Presents”
“The Schaefer Center Presents” is a series offering campus and community audiences a diverse array of music, dance and theatre programming designed to enrich the cultural landscape of the Appalachian State University campus and surrounding area. By creating memorable performance experiences and related educational and outreach activities, the series promotes the power and excitement of the live performance experience; provides a “window on the world” through the artistry of nationally and internationally renowned artists; and showcases some of the finest artists of our nation and our region. Musical events range from symphony orchestra and chamber music performances to jazz, folk, traditional, international, and popular artists. Theatre productions run the gamut from serious drama to musical comedy. Dance performances offer an equally wide array of styles, from ballet to modern dance to international companies representing cultural traditions from around the world. For more information, visit http://theschaefercenter.org.

About APPlause!
Virtual APPlause! K-12 Performing Arts Series 2020-21
Events are FREE; advance registration required at theschaefercenter.org. A private link will be sent to all registrants prior to the events, all of which are available to view at any time during the scheduled event dates. For questions, contact the Box Office at theschaefercenter@appstate.edu or call 800-841-2787 or 828-262-4046. Study guides are available to download for each event.

Every season, affordable music, dance, film and theatre events are offered to students and their teachers from K-12 classrooms across the region. Students experience everything from high-energy acrobatics and Appalachian music to international dance and literary classics brought to life through theatrical productions. The performances are part of the APPlause! series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs. Featuring local, regional, and world-renowned professional artists, the mission of the program is to share university arts resources with the public, private, and homeschool network across our region. Study guide materials connect every performance to the classroom curriculum.

NEWS

Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
An Appalachian Summer Festival
Appalachian State University
PO Box 32045
Boone, NC  28608-2045

Sept. 21, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information contact: Allison West, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, 828-262-6084, ext. 107 or westal1@appstate.edu.

For event details, visit theschaefercenter.org.

Artzenstuff.com

Feel it in the air: Fall brings more art – online and in person

October 9, 2020|Creativity, Literary Art, Music, Theater, Visual Arts

So much to DO!

A quick look at this weekend’s A&E offerings proves deliciously overwhelming. After weeks and months of online-only events, Annie’s Hope and Minglewood Farm and Preserve are holding events out in the country – for safe social distancing. And much, much more is happening online.

So today’s post is a bit listy. Here are some of the things I know about.

Oct. 9

The 2020-21 season of “The Schaefer Center Presents…” performing arts series, from Appalachian State University in Boone, will present its fall series in an all-virtual format Oct. 9-Dec. 4.

The series traditionally offers a diverse array of music, theater and dance, showcasing some of the finest artists around the globe, the nation, and the region.

Tonight, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. you can watch the American Shakespeare Center’s “Othello.”

Jessika D. Williams plays the title role in "Othello," which will be live-streamed tonight from the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.
Jessika D. Williams plays the title role in “Othello,” which will be live-streamed tonight from the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

Envious machinations and evil intentions abound in this live-stream production of “Othello,” shot in three-camera cinema-quality and presented live from the stage of the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

Directed by Ethan McSweeny, American Shakespeare Center’s artistic director, this relevant production of Shakespeare’s tragedy of racism and jealousy will bring audiences to the edge of their seats.

Jessika D. Williams, who has won a cult following from her appearance on the TV series “Doctor Who,” appears in the title role. Opposite Williams is veteran actor John Harrell as the malevolent Iago.

Shakespeare’s staging conditions (universal lighting, minimal sets, character doubling, cross-gender casting, and live music) are used to blend his stagecraft with modern sensibilities.

The event is free, but registration is required at www.theschaefercenter.org. Registrants will receive a confirmation email, a day-before reminder, and a private link to the event one hour before the performance. All events are one-time only exclusive showings.

For more information, call 828-262-4046.