News and Features

Barefoot at the Belmont: The Night in Pictures

Did you make it out to the first Barefoot at the Belmont concert on Thursday night? For the uninitiated, Barefoot at the Belmont is a new series that KXT is programming. (Check the rest of the schedule here.)

Whether you made it out or not, you can check out a collection of photos from the night courtesy of Cindy Chaffin’s Fine Line site. After you take a look, be sure to thank Cindy for the effort.

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Art Conspiracy Extends Deadline

Art Conspiracy has extended the deadline for nonprofit organizations to submit applications to become its beneficiary. Resolana received funds from last year’s event. According to the application:

We fund non-profit organizations that offer creative programming in the form of art or music that gives back to youth, families, and citizens within the Dallas city limits. Funding must be used for creative programming, general operating that would increase capacity of those you serve, and/or capital improvement in order to build capacity to serve the community. We prefer organizations that have an annual budget under $400,000.

If that sounds like you, download the application. The new deadline is May 28.

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Assessing the Use of Video in Moby Dick

Moby_1Guest blogger Bart Weiss is the Artistic Director of VideoFest.

As a video guy, I am not the biggest opera fan. The singing in opera to me sounds too much like being in synagogue. But I heard that Moby-Dick was magnificent and that it had video, so I went.

And it was … magnificent. The music, the story, the staging, the novel-to-opera translation have all been written about, and they were well great. And so was the use of video.

Stagecraft has always been a part of the spectacle of opera, and in the age of video it seems like a natural fit. As the opera opened with the overture sounding, the screen was filled with stars, which started to show lines of what seemed like constellations. And then, the first gasp moment of the evening came as those constellations transformed into an animated version of the book’s most famous ship.

Throughout the opera, there were mainly two styles of video used: the animated ship or row boat and the live action sea. Both were effective, particularly the sea, which becomes its own character. In particular, when one of the sailors is lost in the sea, the suspended singer against the wave is startling.

I was, however, somewhat disappointed in the end. I would have hoped that a new visual element would have been introduced at the climax. But, instead, we got lots of active animated boats crashing and [warning: spoiler alert] a very large close up of the big whale’s eye.

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A New Gallery Opens in Dallas

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Dallas photographer Cameron Salehi will open a gallery on Saturday featuring images she has taken around the world. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports on how she went from college grad to gallery owner in just two years:

  • KERA radio story:
  • Online version:

When Cameron Salehi graduated from SMU in 2008, she learned the same lesson many recent graduates have learned – a diploma doesn’t guarantee a job.

So she decided to spend her new free time honing her craft – photography.

She signed up with National Geographic Expeditions to take trips to France, Scotland, Cuba and other places. The expeditions team budding photographers with seasoned pros who have shot for the magazine.

SALEHI: “I justified it to my parents as saying, ‘It’s kinda like grad school!’ Which it basically was – just getting to travel the world.”

After five expeditions and a summer working at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop, she found herself with hundreds of images but still no work. So she bet big on herself and opened a gallery, called Look.

SALEHI:: “It’s a bit overwhelming; it’s very scary. Since I’m so young, I feel people may not take me seriously sometimes.”

The space is located on McKinney Avenue in Dallas. She’ll inaugurate it on Saturday by showing a collection of her photographs from Cuba. After that, she plans to show a mix of her own work and work by other photographers.

And while her parents have been supportive, she says the gallery is also her chance to show them all that she’s accomplished since graduation.

SALEHI: “I think a lot of the reason why I did the gallery was not to prove to them, but maybe to say, ‘Hey, look, I actually am doing something. I’m not just wasting time and money going on these trips around the world. I actually am working and producing something. So it’s nice to be able to have something to show for it.”

Salehi's pictures from Cuba will be on display on Saturday.

Salehi's pictures from Cuba will be on display on Saturday.

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Friday Morning Roundup

THE WINNERS ARE: The Goss-Michael Foundation has announced the winners of its 2010 Ready. Set. Go! Student Art Contest. Students were asked to pick an action verb and then represent that very abstractly in their pieces. Esteban Jaramillo of Newman Smith High School took Best in Show, while Blake Rutledge (Trinity Valley School) won Best in Drawing; Sophia Espinosa (Newman Smith High School) won Best in Photography and Will Shea (Trinity Valley School) won Best in Painting. If you want to see the winning pieces, they’re on display at Pop Up 310 through Sunday.

THEATER BITS: One Thirty Productions debuted Ellsworth Schave’s Well-Traveled, But Not Well-Known on Wednesday. Lawson Taitte calls the playa valentine to the theater and to theater people” but also says the plot machinations are broadcast a little too clearly. … Rose Pearson, founder of Circle Theatre, joins the This Week in the Arts Podcast to discuss Circle’s current production, The Great American Trailer Park Musical. …  Elaine Liner loves, loves, loves the Dallas Theater Center’s Death of a Salesman. “It isn’t just the best production yet on the main stage at the Wyly …  it’s the best big piece of drama by DTC since Kevin Moriarty took the job as artistic director of the company three years ago,” she writes in this week’s Dallas Observer.

NOT SO FAST: On Thursday, we pointed you to the news that SMU will suspend operations of SMU Press. But that decision isn’t going unfought. Unfair Park tracked down SMU Press Senior Editor Kathryn Lang, who says she’s received an outpouring of support and plans to challenge the decision. “You can’t drop what we’re doing and pick it up four years from now. Forget it,” she tells Robert Wilonsky. “We don’t want our authors dangling out there.”

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DSO Highlights: Captivating Mozart and Ravel

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A joyous performance of a Mozart concerto and a shimmering, captivating performance of a Ravel ballet made Thursday night’s concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra a memorable event. Rejoining the orchestra was music director Jaap van Zweden, who brought along a talented pair of brothers.

Arthur and Lucas Jussen are not twins, though they could pass for it if you failed to notice a slight difference in height. They have the same color of hair, blond, and very similar facial features. But the important thing is that the Dutch teen-agers are musical twins. They were as one in Mozart’s Concerto in E-flat, K. 365, for two pianos (which was probably written for Mozart himself and his sister, Nannerl, so a genetic tie is appropriate).

Beautifully backed by Van Zweden and the DSO, the Jussens played cleanly and stylishly and projected a consistent sense of joy. This was playing to cheer up a misanthrope.

Van Zweden and the orchestra played the complete Ma Mère l’Oye, or Mother Goose, of Ravel. This lovely music was beautifully shaded by Van Zweden and played by the orchestra, with much elegant solo work by DSO principals.

A fair-to-middlin’ performance of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence opened the concert in the Meyerson Symphony Center. The piece was originally a sextet, and has been heard in Dallas in that version. I don’t recall a previous performance of the orchestral version, which is for strings alone.

The program will be repeated Friday through Sunday.

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Saw 'Moby-Dick,' Now Read the Reviews

Just added some more links to reviews on the Dallas Opera’s world premiere. Check ‘em out. Gary Cogill’s even has video — with a flash of some of the amazing ghost-ship-outline video projection, which got an ovation last night even before the singing had begun.

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Q&A: Dallas Mariachi Teachers

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Performers from W.T. White High School

Guest Blogger Tina Aguilar teaches Humanities and Cultural Studies at Brookhaven College School of the Arts.

Dallas Independent School District boasts a range of programs and neighborhood initiatives with community helpers. Alfonso González, Spanish teacher and Mariachi Director at W.T. White High School, and Guadalupe Vargas, Orchestra Director and Mariachi Director at W. E. Greiner Middle School Exploratory Arts Academy, both bring a passion of the legacy of mariachi rhythms and the power of music to their students.

In keeping with the Cinco De Mayo flavor, both Mariachi Los Unicos de Greiner Middle School and W. T. White High School Mariachi Band performed Wednesday night at the House of Blues. They were joined by Mariachi Juvenil Jaguar and Mo-Set AllStarz of Molina High School and Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico before the Gipsy Kings concert. This is another cultural collaboration between the International House of Blues Foundation (IHOBF) and DISD. The proceeds from this event will benefit the IHOBF Action for the Arts Initiative and support new and existing mariachi programs in select Dallas high schools that have a high demand for mariachi. Schools in need of instruments will also benefit.

Tina Aguilar: You have been doing this a long time and continue to create cultural histories and memories. What is the heritage of your work and your program?

Alfonso González: My mariachi experience originates from Stockard Middle School and Sunset High School under the direction of Federico Cisneros. I started teaching mariachi at Moisés E. Molina High School in 2000, and the Mariachi band I started there lasted about five years. Then I transferred to W. T. White High School and it took some time to get going, but I had strong support from my principal and our community liaison with DISD. We started the program in the middle of the year in 2006. This is our third full year, and we have great support. My teaching area is Spanish, and I have two mariachi classes. Our program offers students beginner, intermediate and advanced classes. This year, I have taught harmony through guitars, vihuelas and guitarróns. Last year, I taught trumpet, and I am lucky to have peer tutors who help our group.

Guadalupe Vargas: When I was in fifth grade, I started playing the violin. And then when I got to high school, I had a taste of mariachi at Molina High School and Mr. González was my director. My classical training was enhanced by the mariachi experience. There are 30 kids in my current mariachi group, and we have about 16 for the House of Blues performance, because their stage isn’t big enough to support the full group. Most range from 11 years of age to 13. We are called Mariachi Los Unicos, because we started last February as the first middle school group in the district. Last month, we won the Best in Class award at the annual Mariachi Extravaganza in Fort Worth. We were up against Grand Prairie, Fort Worth and San Antonio performers.

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Performers from W. E. Greiner Middle School

T.A.: While many folks might think mariachi music means weddings and family celebrations, this week is significant for our Mexican heritage. What are some key songs that you play and that students enjoy for the Cinco De Mayo celebration, and what was it like for your students to be asked to perform at the House of Blues Cinco De Mayo event?

A.G.: Our program for the House of Blues Cinco De Mayo event includes: “El Son de la Negra,” a traditional son de Jalisco; a few José Alfredo Jiménez pieces – “Hermoso Carino” and “Si Nos Dejan;” then some Cumbia – “Como Te Voy a Olvidar” (Los Angeles Azules); and a Mariachi Loco Chente set with “Las Llaves de mi Alma, Estos Celos” and “Por Tu Maldito Amor.” The students perform about 20 events throughout the year, and some of them know of the House of Blues, but others do not. Opportunities like this help strengthen their performance skills.

G.V.: Sure, some of the traditional mariachi standards include “Los Machetes,” or “La Bamba de Veracruz,” and, in addition to these, we will do Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Some of my students’ parents have enjoyed musicians at the House of Blues, and many are excited to be able to perform in a professional venue. The ones who do not know about it will have another place to add to their performance list. We were thrilled to be asked to participate.

T.A.: Tell me about your teaching philosophy.

A.G.: My big emphasis is that I really think the mariachi band, like any extra-curricular activity, is a vehicle to teach students responsibility. When they don’t practice, it affects the whole group. We put an emphasis on grades, and the principal and I make sure the students meet their academic commitments or they don’t play. The effect of music programs and the level of commitment required means students have to practice on their own time – in addition to what we ask of them in class. This prepares them for life in general, current and future relationships, jobs and, directly, how to succeed in life. The significant part is to try and have something fun to do at school, and it pushes them to do more and to do better.

G.V.: I teach two mariachi classes during the week, with about 10 per group. And then I have a Wednesday afternoon group that includes all 30. This means I get all levels, and the Academy nourishes current students and neighborhood children who want to learn music. This means I can work with those who are learning their instruments and those that are more advanced. I have kids for about three years, and it does make a difference to see them work together. We need more instruments, and I have a friend who can help with repairs. I still keep in touch with the individuals who helped me when I was part of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Young Strings Program in 8th grade. DISD gave me a lotm and I am trying to give back.

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Thursday Morning Roundup

CONTRACTOR SUES DBDT FOUNDER: Dallas Black Dance Theater artistic director Ann Williams and her daughter are being sued by the contractor who built the organization’s new headquarters. Jim Schutze has a copy of the lawsuit over on Unfair Park, which alleges that Williams drug contractor Vince Fudzie’s name through the mud around town. Officially, Fudzie is suing for “tortious interference” and seeking a cool $10 mil.

MUSIC BITS: Dallas’ Descender celebrates its new album, Army of Elephants, with a couple of release parties this week. Never heard of Descender? A quick primer. (quickdfw.com) … Calhoun sorta broke up in September, then partially got back together and has been working on a new album. You can hear the band’s new direction on Saturday at Lola’s on Sixth, when Tim Locke and Jordan Roberts are joined onstage by Toby Pipes and Nolan Thies of Little Black Dress. (fwweekly.com) … If you missed Norah Jones and Sarah Jaffe on Tuesday night, here’s the night in pictures. (DC9 at Night)

DMN MINI ROUNDUP: The following are all courtesy of dallasnews.com: “Challenging budgetary times” have caused SMU to suspend operations of the SMU Press. … Five North Texas students join the ranks of the Presidential Scholars in the Arts … Jaap van Zweden brings a couple of his much younger countrymen across the pond this weekend for a series of piano concerts with the DSO.

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Ticket Giveaway: Babies the Movie

babiesSeveral months ago, I began seeing oddly intriguing previews for a documentary about babies, called (wait for it …) Babies. The film, which comes out on Friday, looks at a year in the life of four little ones from Tokyo, San Francisco, Mongolia and Namibia.

If you live in North Texas and would like to see it, I’ve got 10 passes to the first 10 people who e-mail me (sbecker@kera.org) with “Babies” in the subject line and your NAME and ADDRESS in the e-mail. Passes are good to any North Texas theater showing the film during its run.

And just for grins, the fifth person to e-mail gets a special gift to go along with the pass (no, it’s not a baby).

UPDATE: All the passes are now claimed.

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