News and Features

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Earns 3 Oscars

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Categorized Under: Film and Television

When the Academy Awards were handed out Sunday night, half of this year’s acting Oscars went to performers in Dallas Buyers Club. It was a big night for the film and for Longview native Matthew McConaughey:

KERA radio story:

Online version:

Dallas Buyers Club won three Oscars, including best actor for Matthew McConaughey and best supporting actor for Jared Leto.

Leto earned his award for playing a transgender person dying of AIDS in 1980s Dallas. In accepting it, he paid tribute to those who’ve died from the disease.

“This is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you who’ve ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you,” he said. “Thank you so much and good luck.”

Leto’s award is for his first acting performance in six years. But McConaughey’s comes at the culmination of two years of solid work, including roles in Mud, Killer Joe and Magic Mike as well as the HBO series True Detective.

McConaughey lost 40 pounds to play Ron Woodruff, the Dallas man who took his HIV treatment into his own hands.

From the stage, he said that there are three things he needs each day: something to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase.

“So to any of us, whatever those things are, whatever it is we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to and whoever it is we’re chasing – to that I say Amen, to that I say alright, alright, alright. And to that I say just keep livin’ huh. Thank you,” he said.

In addition to the two acting trophies, Dallas Buyers Club also earned the Oscar for makeup and hairstyling.

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Art Teachers: This Party’s For You (And It’s Free)

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artteachersThe Dallas Contemporary is hosting  “The Art of Teaching: An Evening For Art Teachers” next week.

I’m surprised no one has thought of this deserving idea before. Christian Yazdanpanah, of Me Plus You,  told me about it and asked for help letting teachers know.  It’s a private event,  you must RSVP.

What defines an art teacher? The visual (fine arts, graphic design), performing (music and dance), CTE and vocational (fashion, culinary, architecture, etc.) was how Yazdanpanah describes it.

“So far we have teachers signing up from public, private, charter, after-school programs and even art institutions,” he says.  “If you fancy yourself an art teacher you are welcome!

From the invitation:

We believe that arts education is imperative to cultivating not just 21st century skills but more importantly the socio-emotional health of a student.

We believe that strong arts education is essential to the development of a city and its citizens.

We believe the creative arts community is responsible for celebrating those who are educating future artists.

The purpose of this private event is to recognize and celebra”te the teachers responsible for cultivating the love of the arts in our youth. Join us on March 7th from 5 to 8 pm at the Dallas Contemporary. We will have plenty of ways to relax as you kick off spring break! First, grab some free drinks and hors d’oeuvres while you dance along to the beats of DJ Tony Schwa. Jump in the photo booth of JR’s Inside Out Project and take a free printout home. Watch as the Oak Cliff-based art collective Sour Grapes creates a piece of art, but don’t leave early because we will be raffling their creation along with plenty of other gifts. Mayor Mike Rawlings will share why arts education is critical to the development of the city and the role it has played in his own family.





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Saturday Spotlight – Glow in the Park Ride

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Categorized Under: Uncategorized

53996For this week’s Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re hitting the trails at the Glow in the Park Bike Ride. Deck out your bike with glow-in-the-dark items, and head out to Bear Creek Pavilion in Keller for a night ride through the park. At this event, you’ll take a six and a half mile journey along the Keller trails.

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Longtime Dallas Actor Larry O’Dwyer Has Died At 77

Laurence O'DwyerLaurence O’Dwyer in Trouble in Mind at Arena Stage. Photo credit: Richard Anderson.


Photo by Richard Anderson
Photo by Richard Anderson
Photo by Richard Anderson

UPDATE: Theatre Three has announced that the memorial service for Larry O’Dwyer will be held at the theater on March 24 at 6 p.m. The public is invited.

One of the mainstays of North Texas theaters for 30 years, Laurence O’Dwyer died this morning in Knox City, Texas, from complications after an earlier surgery for colon cancer, a release from Theatre Three reports. O’Dwyer had retired to Knox City last year. He began his acting career at Theatre Three in 1962, and his last show there was Sly Fox in 2003. He also headed up their children’s shows for 20 years. But O’Dwyer was perhaps best known for his many comic, even clowning roles in such shows as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and he often played opposite Terry Vandivort as a Mutt-and-Jeff pair in such plays as Waiting for Godot.

O’Dwyer was such a child of theater, his first name was deliberately spelled like Sir Laurence Olivier’s. Beginning in the ’90s, he had an ongoing second stage career in New Jersey, where often appeared at the McCarter Theatre in such shows as Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance, Mirandolina and the same playwright’s Changes of Heart. The French comedies were a natural avenue for him, considering all of the Moliere he’d acted at Theatre Three. Late in his life in Dallas, Larry was ‘gay bashed’ outside of an Oak Lawn bar. The shock of such an assault was only amplified for those who knew O’Dwyer; he had such a sad-gentle demeanor (though he could be a demon onstage).

His appearances at the McCarter eventually led to his twelve years as an associate artist at Center Stage in Baltimore, with attention-getting appearances at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He played Lady Bracknell in Center Stage’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, for instance, while getting newspaper profiles and good reviews at Arena as an aged Irish doorman in the Alice Childress play, Trouble in Mind, about black actors in New York in 1957. In 2009, Variety hailed O’Dwyer and the Washington Post ran a small profile of him when he stepped in on short notice for another actor in Arena Stage’s The Fantasticks. He’d actually played the role of the decrepit Henry earlier at Theatre Three, but the last-minute Arena performance won a supporting actor prize for him in Washington’s Helen Hayes Awards. He called it “my just-in-time” award.

As a last-minute replacement for actor Terrence Currier, who left because of a family emergency, O’Dwyer says he had about 2 1/2 days to rehearse “Fantasticks” before previews, but that the part came easily to him. “I was having dinner and I started seeing the character,” he remembers. “It’s been influenced by Harpo, Buster Keaton. . . . They’re with me all the time.” Twentieth-century Shakespearean greats Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud also found their way into Henry’s speechifying, says the actor.

When his Henry tries (and fails) to recite Shakespeare, one can sense the grandiloquence that once was there. Describing himself as “sort of a dinosaur when it comes to classics,” O’Dwyer, who studied at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and once headed the drama program at Bennington College, is a stickler about diction, which, like grammar and diagraming sentences, doesn’t seem to be taught anymore.

For almost the last decade and a half, O’Dwyer, 73, has been an associate artist at Center Stage in Baltimore, where Artistic Director Irene Lewis has cast him, he says, “in one odd and interesting thing after another,” including “Peter Pan,” in which he played Tootles, one of the Lost Boys. In October, he played the fearsomely proper Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest.” “I think I was very convincing,” the actor says of his efforts to avoid camping her up. “I used my own voice and behaved myself.”

Actually, critics and theatergoers may remember O’Dwyer for decidedly not behaving himself on stage at Theatre Three, where his improvised clowning was often the highlight (and sometimes, yes, the bewilderment) of many productions. In 2013, O’Dwyer retired from the stage, moving to Knox City, west of Fort Worth.

The Theatre Three release says a memorial service will be held there, but details are pending.

The full release:

Read More »

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After 10 Year Hiatus, Dance Festival Returns (With New Name, New Home)

dancersPhoto credit: Shutterstock

It’s last incarnation was known as The Dallas Morning News Dance Festival, which folded in 2004. But the Dance Council of North Texas announced Friday that the event will be revived, with a new name and  a new home.

Dallas DanceFest 2014 will take place Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29-31 at City Performance Hall. Audiences can expect eight to 16 companies performing  the first two nights. The performances and companies will be curated, said Gayle Halperin during Friday’s announcement. Organizers are still developing their process, artistic criteria, and panel of curators, but applications will be sent out this spring. All Dance Council companies will be invited to apply.

The Dance Council Honors will also merge with the festival. That annual event recognizes dance leaders, awards scholarships, and includes performances and a silent auction. For the past several years, it’s been held at Dallas Black Dance Theater. This year, it will be held at 2 p.m. on the 31st at City Performance Hall.

Two companies, Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Dancers Unlimited Repertory, created the first Dallas Dance Festival in 1985 in Lee Park. The outdoor festival moved to Annette Strauss Artist Square and picked up its newspaper sponsorship.

The dance scene in Dallas has grown in the last decade, and features new companies focused on styles ranging from classical ballet to hip hop, flamenco to Indian dance, Halperin said. DanceFest aims to present them all at their best. “Excellence is the theme,” Halperin said.

The vision for the festival is inspired by  Fall for Dance in New York. That event, at City Center, features an array of performances and events, new works, and low ticket prices.

But that will take time. “We have to keep things small and focused this year to be successful.”





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Cross-Cultural Connection: Israel’s Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company comes to Dallas

Photo by Uri Nevo, courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

Photo by Uri Nevo, courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

TITAS moves into spring with what promises to be an exciting performance from one of Israel’s most prominent dance groups, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (KCDC). Bringing their raw energy, cultural themes, and innovative movement language, KCDC will take over the Dallas City Performance Hall for two performance on Saturday, March 1, at 2:00 and 8:00pm–which is sold out, so get your tickets for the 2:00pm show now!

As the beginning of spring is a hectic time for the dance world, and the performance world in general, Charles Santos, Executive Director of TITAS, and I discussed the upcoming performance of Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company through emailed correspondence.

Danielle Georgiou: Where did you first see the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, and what attracted you to them?

Charles Santos: I was invited by the Israeli Consulate to fly to Tel Aviv December 2012 to see their Dance Exposure…a festival featuring 35 varied Israeli dance artists. [I saw] 35 performances in 5 days. It was very intense and absolutely great. In the group of artists, some were great, some were not, some were too small for our venues, and Kibbutz was among the group of companies that I really loved…

Kibbutz’s performance was clean, well crafted with clear focus, had well trained dancers, and excellent lighting concepts.  The works I saw were well put together and well edited.  So often I see good work on companies, but there’s no editing and the piece loses focus.  [KCDC’s] works were much more focused.  I found the work passionate, restrained but with real moments of brilliance and abandoned raw movement that really appealed to me.

They use their technique as opposed to showing you their technique. That’s something, for me, that really speaks to the focus on artistry as opposed to impressing an audience with “tricks.”  I love the sensual, raw energy this company has in its choreography and performances. I also love that this company is based and the dancers live primarily in a Kibbutz.  It brings a great sense of cultural identity that is uniquely theirs.  I think our Dallas audiences will be very interested in their art and their culture.

DG: How you would you describe their style?

CS: For me, I don’t want to place them in the “defined” categories of dance, but this is a modern dance company with very well trained dancers that perform with a refined abandon that draws the audience into their work.  These are mature performers and great dancers.  For me, though I marvel at the dancers, I find myself focused on the work, and that’s says a lot about the quality of the choreography. [Artist Director Rami Be’er] uses the whole body with abandon but always keeps a refined choreographic esthetic that focuses the intent of the work.

Courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

Courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

DG: What can we expect from their show at the City Performance Hall?

CS: I think the audience is going to be very impressed by the quality of the work and the stunning dancers.  I think the audience is go to love the passion and raw energy of the work and how well these particular dancers look in this work.  They are “open” performers, exposed.  You can’t help but feel a little voyeuristic, and that’s always great.  I think the audience is going to be very impressed at the quality of artists coming from Israel.  They are going to want to see more, and they will.  Also, we are excited to be presenting companies in CPH [the City Performance Hall].  Both TITAS and the Center are thrilled to be working in this great new venue.  I think it’s a great space for experiencing dance.

DG: This type of partnership, with an international company, a local public school and  TITAS, opens a lot of doors for local dancers and increases the cultural landscape of Dallas. Do you hope that more programs/auditions/performance like this one will occur in the future?

CS: These partnerships interest me more than anything else these days.  Both TITAS PRESENTS and the Center are committed to cultural collaborations within our community, as well as developing collaborations on a national and international scale.  After my trip to Israel, I have continued to communicate with the Israeli Embassy about helping them work with the Israeli companies to deal with the realities of touring in America.  The costs, the audiences, visas, the tax situations, etc.  We are working diligently to establish TITAS and the Center as catalysts for creative projects, creative thinking.  TITAS already has an established commitment and history to commission and creating new works for companies.  With the Center as a partner, we are able to really expand that vision by bringing the Center’s facilities into the mix.  I think, very soon, our arts district, and especially TITAS and the Center, is going to be well known internationally for bold, forward-thinking initiatives and projects.  As an environment that is fertile for exciting creative projects and new opportunities for artists.  This doesn’t happen overnight, but I see the work happening, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.

Photo by Uri Nevo, courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

Photo by Uri Nevo, courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

DG: Kibbutz will also be hosting an audition at Booker T. for their Dance Journey Program. Why was Booker T. selected to host this audition, and who can attend?

CS: Booker T. has some of the best studios in the country for dance.  Whether it’s an American or international company we bring to Dallas, they are always amazed at the quality of the Center’s theater and of the facilities at Arts Magnet. Also, TITAS PRESENTS and the AT&T Performing Arts Center both have long standing relationships with the school. The audition will be open to the public…and is for dancers who are ready to study in Israel. I encourage all interested dancers to consider auditioning. They have an amazing facility and program in Israel.

Dancers can register and reserve an audition spot at The audition is on Saturday, March 1 from 10:00am-1:00pm.

Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company will have two performance at the Dallas City Performance Hall on Saturday, March 1, at 2:00 and 8:00pm.

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The High Five: How Many Oscars Will ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Earn At Sunday’s Academy Awards?

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Categorized Under: The High Five
Matthew McConaughey earned an Oscar nomination for actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof in "Dallas Buyers Club." (Credit: Anne Marie Fox / Focus Features)

Matthew McConaughey earned an Oscar nomination for actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
(Credit: Anne Marie Fox / Focus Features)

Five stories that have North Texas talking: A big weekend for a Dallas-themed movie; Greg Abbott’s personal connection to the Texas gay marriage case; Allen ISD is closing its palatial stadium due to cracks; and more.

  • How will “Dallas Buyers Club” do at the Oscars on Sunday? The film has earned six Oscar nods, including a nomination for best film. Matthew McConaughey is up for a nomination for actor in a leading role, while Jared Leto is in the running for actor in a supporting role. The film also earned nominations for film editing, original screenplay and makeup and hairstyling. The film portrays a Dallas electrician and hustler, Ron Woodroof, an HIV positive man in the 1980s who helps AIDS patients get the medication they need. “Dallas Buyers Club” was a big winner at the Golden Globes. McConaughey plays Woodroof, who decides to fight the death sentence the disease promised to those who contracted it in the 1980s. McConaughey dropped about 40 pounds for the role. The public radio show “The Takeaway” explored the movie this week in its “Real People/Best Pictures” series – the show interviewed William Waybourn was the president of the Dallas Gay Alliance in the 1980s. Woodroof was a volunteer there, and also received services through the center’s clinic. Waybourn discussed Woodroof and the movie.  On Thursday, KERA’s “Think” discussed all things Oscar. NPR recently reported on the process of making the movie – it was a long, complicated process. Last fall, NPR reported on Woodroof’s days in Dallas.


  • What does Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have in common with Mark Phariss, one of the plaintiffs who sued the state to challenge its gay marriage ban? They were law school classmates. They knew each other. Phariss tells KERA they were good friends. And now the attorney general and Phariss, an attorney who lives in Plano with his long-time partner, are on opposite sides of Texas’ brewing battle over gay marriage. Phariss told KERA that during law school at Vanderbilt, he discussed politics over dinner with Abbott and his wife. Phariss is a Democrat, Abbott a Republican. Abbott said in a statement: “Cecilia and I were, indeed, friends with Mark Phariss. We remember Mark from our law school days and his early days as a lawyer in San Antonio. … There are good, well-meaning people on both sides of this issue. This shows that Americans can in fact debate substantial issues without being disagreeable.”
  • One in three North Texans can’t weather a financial storm that lasts 90 days. The problem’s known as asset poverty, and it doesn’t discriminate. A job loss, health emergency, even legal trouble is enough to plunge a third of our friends and neighbors into financial distress. KERA’s series One Crisis Away is following four North Texas families on the financial edge. On Thursday night, KERA hosted a free public forum that explored asset poverty. We livestreamed the event — we’ve posted the video here. The discussion will air as a special on KERA-13 in March.
  • The Allen school district is closing its $60 million football stadium after extensive cracks were found in the building’s concrete. School officials said Thursday that Eagle Stadium in Collin County would stay closed until at least June and possibly into the upcoming school year. Eagle Stadium opened two years ago amid heavy fanfare and national attention for its price tag and splashy facilities. It seats 18,000 and features a 38-foot wide high-definition video screen. Cracks were found in the concrete of the stadium concourse.
  • Leta Andrews, the 76-year-old coach of the Lady Pirate basketball team at Granbury High School, is retiring at the end of the school year. Her career spans 51 years. Andrews scored 1,416 victories. She took 14 teams to the state tournament. Andrews became the winningest high school basketball coach ever on Dec.  7, 2010, Granbury ISD says. Learn more about Andrews. WFAA recently profiled her. “As I look back at my career, I’ve been very blessed that I had the opportunity to teach girls here in Granbury to love basketball the way I loved basketball in Granbury,” Andrews told WFAA.
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A Conversation Guaranteed to Make You Hungry: Art&Appetite at Amon Carter


“Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper is one of many paintings on display at the Amon Carter Museum.

 A new exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art tracks how American artists have portrayed food through history, from early scenes of taverns and farms to Edward Hopper’s diner to Andy Warhol’s soup cans.  The museum’s Deputy Director of Arts and Research, Margi Conrads tells me that the show won’t just make us hungry. It also teaches us about our changing culture.

Here’s a longer, leisurely version of the edited interview that aired on KERA FM:

Highlights from our interview:

Why focus on food and art?


Margi Conrads

“Well, food has been a subject in art throughout its whole history. Food appears in our visual culture. And it’s been an interesting subject matter for artists because it not only allows them to express their aesthetic concerns but also it is full of symbols and meanings that just permeate all of the works.”

Let’s talk about the symbols. To contemporary eyes, a still life may look like just a bunch of pretty fruit. But a 19th century audience may have detected much more meaning.

“There’s lots of messages that can appear in paintings, and it’s not that any one painting can include them all, but that an artist would hone in on different messages that they might want to send, or the messages their patrons would have want included. So there are those pictures that are status symbols. But there are many politically charged images.

“One of my favorites  is by the artist William Michael Harnett. In the late 19th century, tromp l’oeil, or fool the eye painting, was very popular. These works sometimes hung in people’s homes, but more often found their places in establishments, like saloons or department stores. And Harnett painted an image called ‘For Sunday’s Dinner.’ It is a freshly plucked chicken, so freshly plucked that if you look carefully, you can see the little last bit of feathers hanging in the air. And it is hanging by a string from the top of the painting and if you’re looking across the bar or in a store, you might think it was real.

“That title, ‘For Sunday’s Dinner,’ refers to the fact that if you could have a chicken in your pot for Sunday’s dinner, it meant that then you’ve made it. You’re surviving. And that was very much the immgrant’s dream.”

You can also track the role of women changing through these paintings.


“Vegetable Dinner” by Peter Blume

“Since, really, the beginning of time, women and food preparation have been synonymous. And so it’s charted throughout the exhibition. And you have wonderful examples in the mid 19th century of someone like the artist Lilly Martin Spencer, who was the primary breadwinner in her her household, making her living as a painter, at the same time she was bearing 13 children. So her work life balance was very complicated.

“But she used humor and she used also a direct look, of a female figure in the painting, just looking right at you the viewer, to challenge some of those notions of gender roles and etiquette.

“And then there are paintings from the late 1920s, like Peter Blume’s “Vegetable Dinner.” The canvis is almost divided in half. One woman is looking very cosmopoliton, with a cigarette hanging off her fingers.  And the other one is peeling vegetables. That dichotomy of women’s roles and how they were changing — they were changing throughout our history of course, but particularly in the 1920s — That picture speaks not only to the more national thinking about changing roles, but Blume’s relationship to his girlfriend at the time.

I’m not sure I’ve seen an exhibition catalogue with recipes:

“It’s hard to think about food without thinking about how we prepare it. One of the great things about that catalogue is that you get that historical view of recipes. There are recipes to hash a calf’s head, to make a sheep’s tongue pie.

“Macaroni pudding was actually one of the most popular dishes and was found in every social class. And that’s something that’s basically our macaroni and cheese today.”






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Rick Lowe To Be Nasher’s First Artist-In-Residence

Rick Lowe Photo by Allison V SmithRick Lowe. Photo credit: Allison V. Smith.

The big news isn’t just that the acclaimed Houston artist, founder of Project Row Houses, will be the Nasher Sculpture Center’s first artist-in-residence. It’s that he’ll contine his ‘Trans.lation’ project, one of the ten works that the Nasher put up around the city as part of its tenth anniversary celebration, the Nasher XChange. For ‘Trans.lation,’ Lowe helped create a series of markets, workshops and art galleries in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood. Through his residency, the Nasher will “continue to support its growth.”

The full release: Read More »

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The Big Screen: Women In Film

Tonight, the 9th Annual Women in Film Showcase will be screened at the Studio Movie Grill in on Northwest Highway in Dallas. This week, our Big Screen team talks to the president of Women in Film Dallas about the event and about the strides women are making in the industry.

Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen on iTunes. Stream this week’s episode below or download it.

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