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Anita Conley Weaves Together Ballet And Storytelling

Anita Conley

Anita Conley

On Saturday, October 26, The International Ballet Theater will present the inaugural performance of its 2013-14 season at Dallas’ historic Majestic Theatre in Dallas. The evening will be comprised of a two-fold performance of classical and contemporary ballet works, including variations from Paquita and Don Quixote, as well as the return of The Weaving, from the minds of director Gloria Moulopoulos and IBT founder Anita Conley.

Conley received her B.A. in Health Education from Southern Methodist University and in 2009 opened Studio A Dance in Southlake, Texas. Conley and her husband are patrons of the New York City Ballet and have recently been welcomed on to the School of American Ballet Advisory Board.

I interviewed Conley as she prepared for the International Ballet Theater’s opening performance.

Danielle Georgiou: How did you first become interested in dance? You’ve had a diverse career, from training and performing on drill teams to being a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, to now running a ballet company.

Anita Conley: Watching ballet on PBS as a child was my inspiration to dance   The happy circumstance of learning to dance came about by opportunities in middle school, high school and college dance and drill teams. I received very little formal training due to the lack of family finances, and after procuring a job at the age of 16, I was told by every studio I called, I was too old to begin ballet. My career in dance was by providential intervention, I consider myself a teacher and choreographer foremost, and a dancer secondly.

I tried out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders after watching the ABC made-for-TV-movie. So in 1979, I audition. Over 2,500 girls auditioned for the squad that year, and 18 rookies were selected. I was quite fortunate to be among the chosen few. I was a member of the elite Show Group within the DCC’s and traveled on USO TOURS to entertain our soldiers in Korea and Greece.

DG: Now that you are such a huge supporter of the arts and now the founder of your own company, has your love for dance changed? If so, how?

AC: My love is just deeper for the transformative art of dance. To watch our beautiful children learn and perform ballet is pure joy.

DG: Can you tell me a little more about the mission of the International Ballet Theater (IBT)? And about your studio, Studio A? How are they all connected? And how are the connected to your philanthropic work?

AC: The mission to preserve the classical forms of ballet and create contemporary works for current and future generations is at the core of our performance at Majestic Theater on Saturday, October 26th at 8:00pm.

Studio A Dance equips our dancers with the technical skills of ballet for those who wish to pursue a professional career as a dancer. My husband Bill and I support Studio A and International Ballet Theater with our time and resources.

Original Broadway Performance from June, 2010, Lincoln Center (NYC)

Original Broadway Performance from June, 2010, Lincoln Center (NYC)

DG: You are the producer of The Weaving, how did you make the transition from dancer to actor to producer?

AC: I do not consider myself a dancer, actor or a producer. The transition is from a dreamer to a doer.

DG: The Weaving, which will be performed at the Majestic Theater on Saturday, October 26, recently had its Broadway debut at the Lincoln Center. What made you want to bring it back to Dallas?

AC: Well, The Weaving actually had its premiere at The Irving Arts Center in 2010 before the Broadway debut. The production at the Majestic is an abbreviated version of the original. The team and I have worked to rewrite and improve the original work since it showed in New York performance. It continues to be a work in progress.

DG: What can we expect from the show?

AC: Two very diverse acts. The first showcases our IBT Apprentice dancers along with renowned guest artists. “The Weaving” comprises the second act. The message of hope and redemption in the midst of the devastation of WWII and the death camps is an unusual story. Corrie ten Boom’s heroic deeds that saved over 800 Jews from death under the Nazi’s occupation of Holland, is a story worth telling.

International Ballet Theater’s first performance of the 2013-2014 season will take place on. Saturday, October 26 at 8:00pm at the Majestic Theatre.

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The High Five: Where Are The Latino Authors At The Texas Book Festival?

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: A critic says the Texas Book Festival is short on diversity, opera at Klyde Warren Park, what happened to the girl in the closet? and more.

  • Book Festival lacks diversity?: This weekend’s Texas Book Festival in Austin will feature 230 authors, but only 15 of them are Latino. That’s according to Gregg Barrios, a San Antonio playwright, poet and journalist, who wrote a piece for the Texas Observer criticizing the lack of diversity. “To allow this egregious marginalization to continue into the second decade of the 21st century is not only reprehensible but unacceptable,” Barrios wrote. The festival’s literary director, Steph Opitz, apologized. “I, too, am disappointed that there is not more diversity in this year’s line-up,” she wrote. Opitz said her “late hiring” had prevented invitations to Latino authors from going out on time. “In any event, there’s really no excuse,” she said.



  • Oswald’s ring fetches six figures: Lee Harvey Oswald’s gold wedding band has sold at auction for $108,000. RR Auction said the ring sold to a buyer from Texas who wished to remain anonymous. The ring that once belonged to the assassin of President John F. Kennedy was among almost 300 items linked to Kennedy’s life and death that went up for auction Thursday in Boston. Oswald left the ring in a cup on the dresser on the morning of the assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. After being turned over to the Secret Service, it spent decades in the files of a Fort Worth lawyer before being returned to his widow. She agreed to put it up for auction. This November marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination.


  • The girl in the closet: It’s been a dozen years since Lauren Kavanaugh was tortured “beyond imagination” as a little girl by her mother and stepfather. She was rescued in June 2001 from a Hutchins mobile home after being locked up for years in her own filth. When she was 8, she weighed only 25 pounds – the size of a 2-year-old. How is she doing now? The Dallas Morning News explores how she’s bounced back and the lessons she’s learned in an eight-part series. “There have been years of psychotherapy and hundreds of doctor visits,” The News reports. “Fits of rage, long nights of tears and terror, suicide attempts, fistfights, handfuls of mood-altering drugs.” The gripping series continues in The News through Sunday.

  • Bye-Bye Bovines – Should Texas become goat country?: Texas has long been cattle country. But there’s greater worldwide demand for goat meat. And drought is threatening to put cattle ranchers out of business. So, Texas Monthly asks, should Texas become goat country? The magazine reports: “Boer goats, which are known for their stocky bodies and distinctive, floppy ears, have been dubbed ‘the Cadillac of meat goats.’ They first touched down on U.S. soil in the early 1990s, when an agricultural extension agent from Glasscock County imported the first Boer goat into Texas from New Zealand. Twenty years later, they’ve revolutionized the American goat business and pretty much everyone accepts that these kids are the future.”
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‘Clybourne Park’ And The History of Two Dallas Neighborhoods

Little Mexico buildingsLittle Mexico from KERA’s Little Mexico: El Barrio

Journalist Jimmy Breslin once said the history of American cities is a history of land fraud. He might have added, and of racial conflict. The Dallas Theater Center is presenting two plays with racial confrontations over real estate. A Raisin in the Sun is Lorraine Hansberry’s classic drama of a black family in 1959 moving into an all-white Chicago neighborhood. The second play, Clybourne Park, upates Raisin by 50 years with a satiric twist: It has a white couple trying to gentrify the same neighborhood, now all-black. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports Dallas can certainly hear the echoes.

  • KERA Radio story:

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  • Online story:

In the second act of Clybourne Park, playwright Bruce Norris has fun making a young white couple uncomfortable. They’re planning to tear down a home in a rundown black area to build a McMansion with a koi pond outback. They’re meeting with polite representatives of the African-American neighborhood association because of possible historic designations, zoning restrictions and the like. So they’re feeling a little defensive.

The pregnant wife (Allison Pistorius exclaims, “The thing is, communities change!” After all, Clybourne Park had once been a German-Irish community. So, you know, the African-Americans are not exactly, like, original settlers or anything. They moved in, the Germans and Irish moved out, now it’s the African-Americans’ turn to … um, move on.

“Some change is inevitable,” agrees the young black woman (Tiffany Hobbs). “And we all support that. But it might be worth asking yourself who, exactly, is responsible for that change?”

Read More »

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The Friday Conversation: Rinku Sen, Helping Dallas Face Race

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Rinku Sen. Photo:

How can North Texas make discussions about race and racial equity more productive? And can the arts play a role? Rinku Sen, the president of the Applied Research Center (ARC), and publisher of, is working on these issues in Dallas.  Next year, her organization hosts a national conference here called Facing Race.

And she’s working closely with Dallas Faces Race, a forum funded by The Embry Family Foundation and the Boone Family Foundation, that helps organizations collaborate to make change around racial inequity.  Dallas Faces Race recently held a workshop for its partners in the arts, and future workshops will address issues in the philanthropic and education communities.

  • My chat with Sen aired today KERA FM’s “Friday Conversation”. Listen to the conversation here:
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    • Rinku Sen is one of four panelists speaking during lunch at TACA Perforum: A Conversation to Advance the Performing Arts on Monday Oct. 28.  Others include Alan Brown, Principal WolfBrown, San Francisco; Rha Goddess, artist, writer, poet and social activist, Move the Crowd, Oradell, New Jersey, and Monique Martin, Director of Family Programming, CityParks Foundation, New York. For details, call TACA at 214.522.3930.

    Highlights from our conversation:

    On the role arts can play:

    “Arts and cultural activities are really important  to helping people build the courage that is required to enter into a conversation about racial inequity and discrimination in Texas today, in Dallas today and  in the United States today. I work nationally and there isn’t one community in the country that feels like it’s got this right that doesn’t have more work to do and that isn’t nervous about how to get that work done.

    “We understand that the notion of not seeing race is intuitively attractive, but  it has not actually closed the racial gaps. So I think that the arts and culture sector has a really important role to play in reframing that debate and in helping to  build   the spiritual resources that Dallas residents need in order to take up  these challenges.”

    Trying to ignore race, or put it behind us, isn’t the answer. But neither is playing “who’s the racist?”.

    “In today’s world it is possible to have terrible racial impact without an identifiable racist at the center,” Sen says. Conversations can be more productive when they focus on desired goals – education for our kids, access to healthcare – and examine the institutional and structural barriers to them.  The Applied Research Center has tools and  strategies to help analyze the impact, or potential impact,  of policies and procedures to identify or prevent racial inequity.






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The Big Screen: ‘12 Years A Slave’

This week, Dallas Morning News movie critic Chris Vognar and I talk about the film that was the toast of the Toronto International Film Festival: 12 Years a Slave. The latest from British director Steve McQueen is based on Solomon Northup’s experience as a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. We asked UT-Arlington film professor Ya’Ke Smith to join our discussion. And he told us the reasons why he thinks the film is noteworthy:

“I think it’s the first film that I’ve seen that really authentically captures what it was like to be a slave in America,” he says. “These characters are so complex that they really show you what it was like to be a slave, but also what it was like to be a slave master and an oversear and all these things that were going on at the time. And I think what Steve McQueen did actually very brilliantly is show the brutality, the trauma and just how difficult it was to be a slave in this country.”

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

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The High Five: George Clooney’s ‘Monuments Men,’ Based On Dallas Author’s Book, Delayed To 2014

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: A movie with North Texas ties will be delayed a bit, the Perot Museum gets more Nobels, learn more about Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife, and more:

“The Monuments Men,” a George Clooney movie adapted from a book penned by Dallas’ Robert Edsel, has been pushed back to 2014. Visual effects for the World War II drama couldn’t be completed in time, Clooney told the Los Angeles Times. The film had been scheduled to open Dec. 18. “If any of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy,” Clooney told the L.A. Times. “We simply don’t have enough people to work enough hours to finish it.” Clooney directed the film and stars in it. “Monuments Men” also features Matt Damon and Bill Murray. Edsel’s book explores the history of the Allies’ belated, understaffed and culturally heroic scramble to save European masterworks from the Nazis. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reported on the movie in August. As Clooney says in the film: “If you destroy an entire generation and a people’s culture, it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants. And it’s the one thing we can’t allow.”

Here’s the trailer:



  • More Nobel Prizes In Perot Museum Collection: A year ago, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science accepted the donation of a Nobel Prize and the loan of a Nobel Peace Prize. On Friday, museum leaders will get four more of the medals. Last year,  Alfred Gilman donated his Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and the family of the late Norman E. Borlaug donated his Nobel Peace Prize. “The much-heralded medals – considered the world’s most prestigious honor bestowed upon an individual or an institution – will be installed and on public display later this fall in a specially-built case, located in the Being Human Hall on Level 2,” the museum announced in a news release.


  • The Texas Rangers aren’t in the World Series, but they’re worth a billion bucks. That’s according to Bloomberg, which crunched the data for every team in Major League Baseball. The New York Yankees are worth $3.3 billion, making them the sport’s most-valuable enterprise. The Los Angeles Dodgers rank second with a value of $2.1 billion. “Major League Baseball is catching up to valuations of the National Football League,” Anthony Di Santi, the managing director of the sports finance advisory division for Citigroup’s private bank, said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit. “It’s because they’ve been exploiting the media opportunities that are available to them on a national level.” Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys are worth $2.3 billion, Forbes said in August.


  • “Everything about her is cowgirl”: At age 8, Missy Bonds told her dad that she would someday be a rancher like him. Bonds, now 35, runs her family business, Bonds Ranch, in Saginaw with her dad – and on Thursday, she’ll be honored by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Bonds will get the Mitzi Lucas Riley Award, which recognizes women through education and volunteerism. “There is nothing more idealistic than being a cattle rancher. It’s about doing business with a handshake,” Bonds told the Star-Telegram. “It’s about putting your heart and soul into work and feeling proud of what you do.”


  • Meet Mrs. Ted Cruz: Sen. Ted Cruz has gotten lots of media attention lately – and his wife is getting some time in the spotlight, too. The New York Times profiles Heidi Nelson Cruz: “At first glance, Senator Ted Cruz’s wife … seems to be just the sort of person the Tea Party supporters who celebrate her husband’s anti-establishment positions love to hate.” She’s a vegetarian with a Harvard M.B.A., and a managing director at Goldman Sachs, “one of the Wall Street firms that helped set off the populist rage that ushered Mr. Cruz into the Senate in 2012.” She says her husband is a visionary, strategic and practical. “He does what needs to be done, not what everybody wants him to do,” she told the Times. She also says her husband is on her health insurance plan – a noteworthy issue considering the senator “helped force a government shutdown over his opposition to President Obama’s health care law and argued that members of Congress and their staffs should be forced to buy insurance without any government contribution.”
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Flickr Photo Of The Week

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dragon boat 600 post Congratulations to Robert Sigafoos of Dallas, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! Robert is a first-time winner; he follows last week’s winner, James Neal. SigSigafoos 300 wideIf you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took earlier than the current week, but we are hoping that the contest will inspire you to go out and shoot something fantastic this week to share with Art&Seek users.

If the picture you take involves a facet of the arts, even better. The contest week will run from Monday to Sunday, and the Art&Seek staff will pick a winner on Monday afternoon. We’ll notify the winner through FlickrMail (so be sure to check those inboxes) and ask you to fill out a short survey to tell us a little more about yourself and the photo you took. We’ll post the winners’ photo on Wednesday.

Now here’s more from Robert:

Title of photo: Imperial Dragon Boat with Texas Ferris Wheel
Equipment: Kodak Z1012 IS
Tell us more about your photo: We were getting ready to leave the State Fair Thursday, the 17th, when I decided to wait for the ferris wheel to turn to the word “Texas.”  Amazing how long it took to turn. One of the last pictures I took that night. The Chinese lanterns this year are very impressive and worth a visit day or night.

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The Big Deal: Swamp Dogg With Bobby Patterson At The Kessler Theater

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swampSouthern soul singer, Swamp Dogg described himself as “the most successful failure” in the world. Yes, he is political, satirical and yes profane.  But hey! The guy can’t be that bad if he sings with his mom!  The music cult figure is still building an audience today and like his 1970s hit he sings he proves “You Ain’t Never Too Old to Boogie.”

Win this Big Deal and you can treat someone on Halloween night to general admission tickets to see the blues man Swamp Dogg, along with his special guest Bobby Patterson, at the Kessler Theater on Oct 31.

Also on tap this week are our Deals for  Dracula: The Music and Film Performed by Philip Glass and the Philip Glass Ensemble at Bass Performance Hall and the festival passes for the Lone Star Film Festival at Sundance Square.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not then subscribe here, then sign up below for this Big Deal – tickets to see Swamp Dogg and Bobby Patterson.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!


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The Big Deal: Lone Star Film Festival At Sundance Square

LSFF vermeer

Photo © 2013 Tim Jenison, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The Lone Star Film Festival takes over Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth from Nov. 7-10. The Festival provides audiences with their first, and sometimes only, opportunity to see the most celebrated films of the year and interact with the artists that made them.

This year the festival producers have lined such highly anticipated films such as Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne, the critically acclaimed documentary Tim’s Vermeer, and the 2013 Festival De Cannes Jury Winner Like Father, Like Son. Other films showcased include August: Osage County, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.   Thanks to LSFS we have a pair of festival passes to bestow to one lucky film aficionado.  The passes gives our winner and their date access to all screenings, panels and events including Opening and Closing Night films. Does not include the LSFF Ball and Filmmaker Awards Dinner and some musical performances.

And if you are still haven’t nailed down your Halloween entertainment yet, then sign up for our other two Big Deals this week – tickets to Dracula: The Music and Film Performed by Philip Glass and the Philip Glass Ensemble at Bass Performance Hall, or tickets to Swamp Dogg with Bobby Patterson at the Kessler Theater.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then you can take care of that here, then sign up below for this Big Deal – festival passes to the Lone Star Film Festival 2013 in Sundance Square.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!


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The Big Deal: Dracula: The Music & Film Performed by Philip Glass And The Philip Glass Ensemble

Dracula_450x239It’s hard to recall a film, much less a cinematic classic, without a music score. But that’s the case for the subject of our next Big Deal. Although made as an early talkie, post-The Jazz Singer, the horror film Dracula was produced with no music and few sound effects.

Nearly 70 years later, enter legendary composer Philip Glass. The groundbreaking musician Glass was commissioned by Universal to compose a music score for the 1931 celluloid classic for the re-release to video. Glass and his Philip Glass ensemble will be performing his original music score while the film is projected overhead at Bass Hall on October 29.  For this Big Deal we have two pairs of tickets to giveaway.

Also, don’t forget to check out our other Deals this week. We have festival passes for this year’s Lone Star Film Festival at Sundance Square and tickets to see Swamp Dogg at the Kessler Theater.|

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then you can take care of that here, then sign up below for this Big Deal – tickets to Dracula: The Music and Film Performed by Philip Glass and the Philip Glass Ensemble.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!

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