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Meadows Percussion Ensemble and SYZYGY will perfor


Landmark, rarely performed piece by Pulitzer-winning composer casts hypnotic spell

SYZYGY, the contemporary music ensemble of SMU, in partnership with the Meadows Percussion Ensemble, will present Steve Reich’s groundbreaking, joyful and rarely performed chamber work Music for 18 Musicians at Dallas’ Moody Performance Hall on Friday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m. 

With rhythmic pulsing and ever-changing shades of consonant harmony, Music for 18 Musicians is regarded as a high-water mark in traditional minimalist composition. It incorporates pianos, keyboard percussion, winds, strings and vocalists, transforming into a wide variety of textures and colors over its hour-long running time, resulting in an almost hypnotic effect on the listener. First performed in 1976, the work is considered a masterpiece by Reich, whose numerous awards include the Pulitzer Prize. The concert will also include video projections of abstract images that take shape depending on what musical sounds are made. The algorithms for the projections are designed by Ira Greenberg, director of SMU’s Center of Creative Computation.

Music for 18 Musicians is the finest musical representation of pure joy ever written,” said Jon Lee, director of the Meadows Percussion Ensemble.

“The piece has widespread appeal – fans of contemporary art music, hip hop, indie, electronic music, and classical music all point to it as among their absolute favorites,” said Lane Harder, director of SYZYGY. “The experience of hearing it shares the immediacy and visceral quality that a lot of pop or world music has.” 

Harder added that most people know the work from the Grammy-winning 1978 recording by Steve Reich and Musicians. “It was released on a label known for selling pop and rock recordings, ECM, and it sold over 100,000 copies in the first year. In recent years, scores and parts have been made available to the public, and for the first two years after its availability, it was the biggest seller in the Boosey & Hawkes classical music catalog.”  

Ticket Information:

Moody Performance Hall is located at 2520 Flora St. in downtown Dallas (75201). Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students and educators. For tickets and more information, contact the Meadows box office at 214-768-2787 or visit the Meadows event website.

About the Performers:

SYZYGY is the contemporary music ensemble of the Meadows School of the Arts, directed by Lane Harder. It performs new music and music of the recent past with an emphasis on the music of living composers. SYZYGY’s performance events aim to create encounters with contemporary music that are innovative and engaging for diverse audiences. The ensemble’s repertoire includes aggressive programming on many important themes including gender identity, domestic violence, gender roles, human connections, existentialism, and the effects of politics on individuals, among others. Under Harder’s direction, SYZYGY has collaborated in and on live performances with DJ Spooky, Cezanne Quartet, Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet, Artists for Animals, and many others. Through SYZYGY, Lane Harder curates the SYZYGY@131 concert series at Site131, a contemporary art gallery in the Design District of Dallas.

The Meadows Percussion Ensemble, directed by Jon D. Lee, is dedicated to the performance of new and traditional percussion ensemble literature. The ensemble has performed at a number of national and international conferences, including those for the Texas Music Educators Association, Percussive Arts Society and World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles. Recent collaborations have included performances with the SYZYGY ensemble at the Meadows School of the Arts and the Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet. The ensemble has also premiered a number of works, including Lane Harder’s La Razon del Viaje, Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Xochiquetzal, John Gibson’s Aqalani and Koda, Warren Benson’s Drums of Summer, Stephen Jones’ strike 2, Anne Strickland’s Fascinating Notions, Kevin Hanlon’s Kickin’ It, Jenny Olivia Johnson’s I Refuse to Mourn and G. Bradley Bodine’s Namaste: Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble. The ensemble has recorded two CDs on the Gasparo label, Strike: the Music of Motion and Contact

For more information, visit



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Award-winning advertising executive, filmmaker and author to discuss how brands must address customers’ beliefs and ethical concerns



            David Baldwin, award-winning founder of advertising agency “Baldwin&,” filmmaker and author of the acclaimed new book The Belief Economy: How to Give a Damn, Stop Selling, and Create Buy In, will be the guest speaker for the 2018 ExxonMobil Lecture on advertising, media and communication ethics, sponsored by the Temerlin Advertising Institute at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. Baldwin will present “Navigating the Belief Economy” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 6 at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 East Mockingbird Lane in Mockingbird Station, Dallas (75206), followed by a Q&A. A reception and networking event will be held beforehand in the Angelika lobby from 6 to 7 p.m. The event is free, but reservations are requested via Eventbrite.

            To reach the next generation of customers, brands must address those customers’ beliefs and ethical concerns, says Baldwin. He will share his insights about how the Belief Economy lays the foundation needed to connect powerfully and passionately with a growing, socially committed audience.

An award-winning copywriter and creative director, Baldwin is the founder of Baldwin&, a Raleigh, N.C.-based company that was named Small Agency of the Year twice in its first five years by Ad Age and the 4A’s. The former chairman of the One Club in NYC, Baldwin was also an executive producer for the Emmy-winning film Art & Copy, and an associate producer for the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning film The Loving Story. His advertising has been recognized by The One Show, Cannes, D&AD, the Clios, the Effies, the Andy Awards, the MPA Kellys, Communication Arts and more. Baldwin’s work and writings have been featured in numerous publications and college textbooks on advertising. He is also the cofounder and brandmaster of the Ponysaurus Brewing Co. in Durham, N.C., makers of “the beer beer would drink if beer could drink beer.”

The ExxonMobil Lecture Series launched in 2003 to promote advertising, media and corporate ethics. ExxonMobil has endowed the lecture series through a grant to SMU’s Temerlin Advertising Institute. The grant supports SMU’s goal of expanding its emphasis on ethics not only in its diverse communications programs but in events offered to the public. For more information, please call the Temerlin Advertising Institute at 214-768-1878.



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SMU Professor, Local Agencies To Launch New Seedling Farm at MLK Community Center, Nov. 21


Farm to provide gardening advice and healthy, low-cost plants to

community gardeners in South Dallas


In the ongoing effort to combat South Dallas’ food desert, a new source of low-cost plants for individual and community gardeners will launch with the grand opening of the new Seedling Farm at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center’s Freedom Garden on Tuesday, November 21 at 11:30 a.m. The center is at 2922 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Dallas (75215). The free public event will include presentations and family activities and provide information about the farm’s offerings.


The Seedling Farm is a collaborative effort by Owen Lynch, associate professor of  organizational communication at SMU Meadows School of the Arts and senior research fellow at SMU’s Hunt Institute for Humanity and Engineering, and numerous local Dallas urban farm organizations.


“A food desert is a community without close access to fresh, healthy foods at grocery stores or other retail outlets, and in South Dallas, many residents live at least a mile away from a grocery store,” says Lynch, who also serves as president of the nonprofit, urban farm consulting agency Get Healthy Dallas. “In fact, South Dallas is one of the largest food deserts in the country. While there have been positive results with the many new urban farming and gardening efforts in recent years, there is still work to be done. The Seedling Farm aims to overcome some of the barriers to successful local agricultural production and help boost garden yield in South Dallas. It helps everyone in the urban farm system, facilitating others to grow their businesses.”


The Seedling Farm will be open year-round and will provide a variety of seasonal fruit and vegetable plants at a nominal cost, along with professional in-person advice. Community members – both individuals and groups – can participate via four steps: “meet, select, grow and go.” Step one is to meet with Seedling Farm manager Tyrone Day, an urban farm expert with a horticulture degree and more than 20 years of experience. Step two is to select the best types of plants for the resident’s garden, with Day’s counsel. In step three, the selected seeds will be grown at the farm until they have matured into young seedlings ready for planting. In step four, the gardener picks up the plants at the MLK Center and raises them in his or her own garden. The resulting crop can be for the gardener’s personal use, or shared with friends or community centers.


The Seedling Farm’s goal is to produce 20,000 young plants each year.


Overcoming Barriers, Creating Impact

Access to fresh produce translates to healthier, more vibrant communities, says Lynch, but studies show that community gardens have high closure rates and are often not economically viable. Lynch has been researching urban food systems with a focus on how to remove barriers and create a viable farming system. He has worked closely with the Hunt Institute on the issue, because one focus of the institute is to research and pilot farming systems with the potential for aggregation to co-develop and encourage a sustainable food economy.


“Research shows that community gardens can achieve bigger gains if the community gardeners have access to local experts and seedlings to better manage their gardens,” says Lynch. “That is a big part of what the Seedling Farm is about: to encourage, support and – if needed – teach local residents how to get the most from their urban gardens. It also serves as a source of healthy, low-cost plants.”


Providing seedlings instead of seeds is an important factor. “The process of going from a seed to a seedling is the most vulnerable stage in a plant’s life,” says Seedling Farm manager Day. “At the farm, we raise them in controlled conditions with constant monitoring, and also prepare them for transportation to community and home gardens.” Jump-starting gardens by planting viable young seedlings, instead of seeds, means the plants are more likely to survive, mature faster and produce fruits or vegetables more quickly, says Day. “Gardeners can see more growth cycles per season, which means more product. All of that translates into a healthier community.” The seedlings are grown in an industrial hoop house – a simple greenhouse structure – funded by a grant from SMU Lyle School of Engineering’s Hart Center for Engineering Leadership.


Another expected benefit of the Seedling Farm is job training. With the support of Miles of Freedom, a nonprofit that helps previously incarcerated men and women gain employment and re-entry into society, Dr. Lynch and his partners are using the Seedling Farm to help identify and train community members to become future urban farmers. By increasing production and coordinating the capabilities of the local emerging agriculture system, the hope is the farm will not just seed gardens but have a multiplier effect, contributing to economic activity and well-being throughout the community.


Seedling Farm Opening Day Activities

The opening event will include presentations at 11:30 a.m. by Dr. Lynch, Tyrone Day, Pamela Jones, manager of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, and DeVincent Martin, a South Dallas native and master’s student in SMU Lyle School of Engineering doing research on urban farming, as well as a variety of family activities. Farmers from the State Fair of Texas Big Tex Urban Farms will be on hand to demonstrate how they grow produce in pallet-sized, portable, stackable boxes on the fairgrounds during the fair’s off-season. Tours of the hoop house will be offered, and attendees can take home a seedling for their own gardens.


Community Partners

The new Seedling Farm is a collaboration of multiple organizations. Partners include the MLK, Jr. Community Center, Big Tex Urban Farms, The State Fair of Texas, Texas A&M AgriLife,  and the Hunt Institute for Humanity and Engineering and Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, both at SMU Lyle School of Engineering. Community supporters include the Austin Street Center, Café Momentum, Connecting City to Farm, and Miles of Freedom. The local community garden network includes Behind Every Door – Village Oaks, Bonton Farms, Jubilee Park Community Center, Lincoln High School, Mill City Gardens, St. Philip’s School Garden, and Sunny South & Nella Roots.


For more information about the Seedling Farm, contact Dr. Owen Lynch at

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Ascension by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson,

Three exciting contemporary works, including newly created pieces by Complexions Ballet co-founders Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson and by Associate Professor Christopher Dolder, will be presented at SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Fall Dance Concert, November 8-12 in the Bob Hope Theatre at SMU.

The program opens with Dolder’s new version of Bolero, set to a London Symphony recording of Ravel’s famous work. With its circular stage space, curving ramps and central spire, Bolero is equal parts architectural art and biomechanical physics experiment.  This movement laboratory provides the physical backdrop for dancers representing an array of societal archetypes perennially caught in the cycles of life and culture.  The interactive set, bathed in video-projected imagery, compels these characters to accelerate, ascend and literally vault into space in feats of virtuosic toroidal motion. A former soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Dolder has always had a fascination for architectural design.  His Handle (2014), Metropolis (2015) and collaboration with Canadian wood sculptor Erik More in The Orca Project (2016) have each expanded the boundaries of his forays into dance and interactive set design and laid the foundation for this novel approach to Ravel’s masterwork.

The program continues with Ascension, a new piece created by Visiting Artists-in-Residence Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, founders and co-artistic directors of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Ascension exemplifies the seamless blend of ballet and contemporary dance expressed in virtuosic, sculptural choreography that has made Complexions world renowned. The company has received numerous awards, including The New York Times Critics’ Choice Award, and has toured the globe, performing at Lincoln Center and The Joyce Theater in New York, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and most recently at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as part of “Ballet Across America.”  Celebrated for his choreography and wide-ranging collaborations with well-known dance artists, Rhoden has created over 80 ballets for Complexions and for numerous other major companies. Richardson is a Tony-nominated actor and the first black American principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre.

Concluding the program is Moncell Durden’s Drop Me Off in Harlem, a tribute to the music and dance of the 1930s. Premiered earlier this year, it uses vernacular jazz movement to recount the adventures of three ladies from Pennsylvania who travel to New York City to dance at the famous Savoy Ballroom and watch the battle of the bands between Benny Goodman and Chick Webb. The audience follows Norma, Mabel and Dawn as they navigate the spirited streets, subways and ballrooms of New York and Harlem nightlife. Durden is a choreographer, historian, dance educator and current faculty member at the University of Southern California, where he teaches jazz, hip-hop and improvisation.

Fall Dance Concert performance times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students, SMU faculty and staff.  The Bob Hope Theatre is located inside the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787 or click here.

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Joaquin Achucarro - (c)Jean-Baptiste Millot.jpg


DALLAS (SMU) --- The Distinguished Performer Concert Series at SMU Meadows School of the Arts opens its 2017-18 season with a rare solo recital by world-renowned concert pianist, recording artist and Joel Estes Tate Professor Joaquín Achúcarro. The concert will be held Friday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Admission is $14 for adults, $11 for seniors, and $8 for SMU students, faculty and staff. Tickets are available from the Meadows box office at 214-768-2787 or online at

The all-Chopin concert will feature six works by the 19th-century Romantic composer, including his Prelude, Op. 45 in C-sharp minor; Fantasia Impromptu; Nocturne, Op. Posth. in C-sharp minor; Barcarolle, Op. 60; Polonaise, Op. 53 in A-flat major; and, after an intermission, 24 Preludes, Op. 28. Following the concert, Achúcarro will fly to London to record these Chopin works for a new CD.

The concert is dedicated to the memory of the late Jeanne Roach Johnson (1932-2017), a Dallas civic leader, investor and philanthropist who was a longtime supporter of SMU and of the Meadows School. A lifelong music lover, she gave several major gifts to establish endowment funds and initiatives for Meadows piano programs.

“Whether they know it or not, Jeanne Johnson’s legacy of philanthropy at the Meadows School has touched virtually every single music student for the last 20 years,” said Samuel Holland, Meadows School dean. “The impact of her giving included a complete renovation of the music practice room complex, new and refurbished Steinway pianos, and scholarships for deserving students – not to mention a major gift to the National Center for Arts Research. Over many years, in part because of her love for the piano, Jeanne and our distinguished artist-in-residence, Joaquín Achúcarro, developed a warm and wonderful relationship. Jeanne was seen at virtually every piano event at the Meadows School and eagerly followed the careers of Joaquín’s students and alumni. I can’t imagine a more fitting tribute for this great lady than for Achúcarro to dedicate this recital – of repertoire Jeanne particularly loved – to her memory and her legacy.”

Joaquín Achúcarro has been described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “the consummate artist.” In October 2015, the prestigious French magazine Diapason selected Achúcarro’s BMG-RCA recording of Bernard Herrmann’s Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra with London’s National Philharmonic Orchestra as one of “The Best 100 Piano Recordings of All Time,” along with such legends as Rachmaninoff, Horowitz and Rubinstein. He has even had a planet named after him: The International Astronomical Union christened the miniplanet 22191 “Achúcarro” in his honor.

Since winning the 1959 Liverpool International Competition, Achúcarro has had an exceptional, uninterrupted artistic career that has earned him global recognition. He has toured 61 countries, performing in recital and as a soloist in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Berlin Philharmonie, Royal Albert Hall and Sydney Opera House. He has performed with over 200 major orchestras, from the New York, Los Angeles and London Philharmonics to La Scala of Milan and the Tokyo Symphony. He has also played with an impressive list of more than 350 conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Seiji Ozawa and Sir Simon Rattle. His numerous, critically acclaimed recordings include Achúcarro plays Brahms, which was named “Editor’s Choice” of Classic FM Magazine and rated “Outstanding” by the International Record Review, and prizewinning recordings of de Falla, Granados, Ravel and Brahms on the BMG-RCA, Claves and Ensayo labels. He has also received the highest honors in the arts bestowed in his native Spain: the Gold Medal of Fine Arts, The National Award for Music and the Great Cross of Civil Merit.

Since 1989, Achúcarro has held the Joel Estes Tate Chair in piano at the Meadows School of the Arts, adjusting his teaching periods to his busy concert schedule. He also serves as a summer professor at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. In 2007, The Joaquín Achúcarro Foundation was created by a group of individuals – including Jeanne Roach Johnson – and institutions in Dallas to “perpetuate his artistic and teaching legacy” and to help young pianists at the outset of their careers.

The Distinguished Performer Concert Series presents concerts by outstanding music faculty and guest artists. The next concert is “Brahms Among Friends” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 22, featuring violinist Emanuel Borok, distinguished artist-in-residence and retired concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony, and pianist Mikhail Berestnev, a Performer’s Diploma student of Joaquín Achúcarro at Meadows and award winner at numerous international competitions. For more information about the concert series, visit


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DALLAS (SMU) --- Organist Yunjung Lee, a graduate student in the Performer’s Diploma program at SMU Meadows School of the Arts, has won first prize in the inaugural Asia International Organ Competition, held July 19 at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan. The prize includes a cash award of $3,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to perform a recital in China. The venue and recital date will be announced later this year.

Lee won the top award with a performance of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms and Maurice Duruflé. She is a student of Stefan Engels, the Leah Young Fullinwider Centennial Chair in Music Performance and professor of organ at the Meadows School.

“Playing at this competition was a challenging and fulfilling experience at the same time,” said Lee. “I feel happy and privileged to be able to study organ with Professor Engels. The inspirational environment at SMU helps me to find myself as a musician and as an artist. Above all, I want to praise God with my playing.”

The Asia International Organ Competition, presented by the Taiwan Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), is open to any organist with citizenship in an Asian country or with an active membership in any AGO chapter in Asia. The contest drew 28 participants from China, Korea, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan and the U.S., six of whom were selected for the final round.

The jury included internationally known concert organists Tong-Soon Kwak, professor emeritus of organ at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea; Olivier Latry, organist with the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory of Music; and John Walker, organ faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, distinguished visiting professor of organ at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, artist-in-residence at Baltimore’s Church of the Redeemer and immediate past president of the American Guild of Organists.

Yunjung Lee, who will earn her Performer’s Diploma in organ performance at SMU Meadows in 2018, is a native of Busan, South Korea. As a teenager she was a church accompanist on piano and received third prize in the Korean High School Organ Competition at Kyemyung University in Busan. With a growing passion for organ and church music, she went on to earn a degree in organ performance at Yonsei University in Seoul. In 2014 she received first prize in the Korean Association of Organists Organ Competition. Earlier this year she was awarded second prize in the Hall Pipe Organ Competition in San Antonio, and first prize in the Arthur Poister Scholarship Competition in Syracuse, N.Y. She is currently organist at First United Lutheran Church in Dallas, where she plays the tracker organ by renowned builder Karl Wilhelm.

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Myerson meadows symphony horizontal with no peopl
The Meadows Symphony Orchestra and Meadows choirs will perform on the stage of the Meyerson Symphony Center this Wednesday for the 24th annual gala for Meadows Scholars.  The event will feature works by Ravel, Fauré and Delibes, performed by the critically acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips. Also performing will be women of the Meadows choral ensembles, led by director Pamela Elrod Huffman, and operatic soloist and alumna Katrina Galka. The event supports talented Meadows students through the Meadows Scholars Program and the newly established Diane and Hal Brierley Endowed Scholarship.  For more on this event: 
Lee Gleiser
Event Marketing Manager
SMU Meadows School of the Arts
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Ignite/Arts Dallas and South Dallas Cultural Center Present Gomela/to return: Movement of Our Mother Tongue by Junebug Productions, April 7-8


National Touring Show Highlights Stories of African American Communities

Through Dance, Music and Theater



DALLAS (SMU) --- SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Ignite/Arts Dallas initiative and the South Dallas Cultural Center (SDCC) present the Dallas appearance of Junebug Productions’ nationally touring show Gomela/to return: Movement of Our Mother Tongue, April 7-8. Junebug, which is based in New Orleans, developed Gomela as an original, multi-disciplinary performance highlighting the stories and histories of New Orleans’ African American communities. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the SDCC, 3400 S. Fitzhugh, Dallas 75210. Tickets are $10 per person and are available at  For more information, call the SDCC at 214-939-2787.


Gomela, a Bantu word, means “to go back to/to return.” Directed by Stephanie McKee and developed by dancers Kesha McKey, Kai Knight, Jeremy Guyton and poet Sunni Patterson, Gomela takes audience members on a journey through time and space. Illuminating the connection between Africa, Haiti and New Orleans, Gomela highlights the vibrant and percussive movements and stories that breathe life into ancient African dance and drumming and contemporary artistic expression, including spoken word, hip-hop and jazz. Each show will be followed by discussions with audience members who will be encouraged to share their own experiences, sparked by the performance.


Gomela is an experience of collective memories passed down from generation to generation, a tapestry woven by a group of multi-disciplinary artists who represent the diversity of African Americans who call New Orleans home,” said McKee, the executive artistic director of Junebug Productions. “Gomela is based on hope, survival, courage and the resilience that exists in the face of oppression. It is about the heartbeat of a people that will never die, the culture and traditions that continue to evolve, grow and survive the test of time.”


“This works exemplifies the interdisciplinary narrative approach to storytelling that younger generations of artists are making today,” said Clyde Valentin, director of Ignite/Arts Dallas. “Junebug has an unprecedented history of making theater across the South for the last 40 years, and under their next generation of artistic leadership the work looks and feels like a mixtape, a painting, a documentary film, a poem all rolled into one. What hasn’t changed is the urgent need to tell the untold stories of struggle, resistance and resilience in the face of injustice. It’s an honor to be collaborating with South Dallas Cultural Center on bringing this production to Dallas.”

Lighting designer Evan Spigelman, sound designer Muthi Reed, projection designer Jason Foster, costume designer Ja’nese of Aya Designs and recorded music by trumpeter Troy Sawyer and singer Janet “Sula Spirit” Evans of Zion Trinity will bring life to the sights and sounds of Gomela.


Gomela was awarded a prestigious 2015 New England Foundation for the Arts National Theater Project creation and touring grant. The spring 2017 national tour includes performances in Dallas, San Antonio, Knoxville and other cities. Additional support for Gomela comes from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and Alternate ROOTS. 


About Junebug Productions

Junebug Productions is the organizational successor to the Free Southern Theater, which developed in the 1960s and used the arts to promote civil rights. The mission of Junebug Productions is to create and support artistic works that question and confront inequitable conditions that have historically impacted the African American community. Through interrogation, Junebug challenges itself and those aligned with the organization to make greater and deeper contributions towards a just society. For more information about Junebug Productions, please visit the website.


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Community-based projects to use creative practice to drive social change


New York, N.Y. – EmcArts is excited to announce Dallas, Texas and Buffalo, N.Y. as the next two cities to establish Community Innovation Labs (CIL), a nationwide program that addresses social issues by integrating artists with community-based change efforts. Following pilot Labs in Winston-Salem, N.C. and Providence, R.I., and a national, competitive open call, both Dallas and Buffalo were selected to participate based on the significant work and social infrastructure already in place in each community. 

By being deeply embedded in their respective communities and bringing together a diverse cross-section of stakeholders, including city agencies, community organizers, business leaders, artists, cultural organizations and nonprofit service providers, the Labs are designed to enable community stakeholders to build new connections and address complex challenges at the system level. The goal of the Lab program is to create long-lasting, well-connected networks in each city that empower communities to leverage artistic practices to bring about social change and advance progress on important civic issues. 

In late 2016, both Dallas and Buffalo Labs began a 15-month process to address their self-determined community challenges. “In this time of increased uncertainty and deepening inequities, traditional linear planning is not a sufficient response; a coalition of community stakeholders coming together to bring creative experimental approaches to persistent complex challenges is powerful and radical,” said Richard Evans, president of EmcArts. “Community Innovation Labs invite the cultural sector into the change process, priming the environment for creative collaboration. Building on our work in the pilot cities, EmcArts will work alongside the remarkable leaders and organizers in these two vibrant communities to advance a shared understanding of the system and to generate and rehearse new strategies for change that can be effective and long term.”


Buffalo, N.Y.

Convened by Open Buffalo, PUSH Buffalo and Ujima Theatre Company, Labmembers will explore the core question: “How can we use artistic practices to encourage community participation in a just transition to a new economy that uplifts and supports people, place, and planet?” With lead local funding by Open Buffalo, the Buffalo Lab will examine the intersection of economic practices, racism and climate change, and seek to discover a community economy model rooted in values of equity and sustainability. 

“Buffalo, New York’s second-largest city, is in the midst of rising economic inequities, where a select few are finding prosperity and most continue to fall behind. Without creative, innovative and inclusive solutions, the gap between the haves and have-nots in our city will only increase,” relayed Franchelle Hart, executive director of Open Buffalo. “The Community Innovation Lab offers us creative methodologies to tackle challenging work across sectors and tear down historic silos and segregation.”


Dallas, Texas

The Dallas Lab is convened by Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Meadows School of the Arts through its arts and social justice initiative, Ignite/Arts Dallas, and by Big Thought, the Embrey Family Foundation, Make Art with Purpose (MAP), and SMU’s Hunt Institute.  Using nutritional access as the hub to connect educational, economic and cultural opportunities for the community, Dallas Labparticipants will investigate the core question: “How can we work collectively to ensure equitable access to healthy food and nourishment for and with all the citizens of Dallas, using arts, creativity, and food itself as catalysts?” The Dallas Lab receives local funding from the Embrey Family Foundation and SMU Meadows School. Representatives from some 30 Dallas organizations and independent artists are participating in the Lab. 

“By bringing together stakeholders from all corners of Dallas, the Lab has already started meaningful conversations about how economic justice and economic security affect equitable food access,” said Clyde Valentin, director of SMU Meadows’ Ignite/Arts Dallas. “We are thrilled to be a partner in this initiative, which aligns so well with our own commitment to creating more just and vibrant communities by building connections between our students, the artistic community and the city of Dallas.”


Lab Principles

Working in ensembles, Labmembers from both cities will initiate new arts-based strategies for change over the course of 2017 with the support of $15,000 in grant funds. Funded in part by the Kresge Foundation, EmcArts’ Community Innovation Labs bring together learning from the fields of social innovation and creative placemaking. The process is undergirded by four key principles:

1. a focus on building dense, cross-sector networks

2. a willingness to slow down in order to see systems as a whole

3. an ability to harvest unique contributions from artists and cultural workers

4. a willingness to let go of linear planning in favor of experimental learning


By design, each Labfosters a deep commitment to collaboration, learning and experimentation. In each city, dense local networks of cultural and civic organizations, leaders and organizers are leveraged to build on existing capacity, reveal connections and enable sustainable change efforts. 

To learn more about EmcArts’ Community Innovation Labs framework and Round One cities (Winston-Salem, N.C. and Providence, R.I.), visit the EmcArts program webpage here.



EmcArts is a nationally recognized service organization for innovation and adaptive change. We work alongside people, organizations, and communities as they take on their most complex challenges. Through our rigorously designed and facilitated workshops, coaching, and intensive labs, we create the space and conditions to test innovative strategies and build cultures that embrace change. Our practice is deeply influenced by the artistic process, which we believe has a unique power to unlock entrenched assumptions and open up new ways of seeing.



The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit.  In 2014, the Board of Trustees approved 408 awards totaling $242.5 million. That included a $100-million award to the Foundation for Detroit’s Future, a fund created to soften the impact of the city’s bankruptcy on pensioners and safeguard cultural assets at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A total $138.1 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. In addition, their Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $20.4 million in 2014. For more information, visit



The Meadows School of the Arts, formally established at SMU in 1969 and named in honor of benefactor Algur H. Meadows, is one of the foremost arts education institutions in the United States. The Meadows School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, art, art history, arts management and arts entrepreneurship, corporate communication and public affairs, creative computation, dance, film and media arts, journalism, music, and theatre. The goal of the Meadows School of the Arts, as a comprehensive educational institution, is to prepare students to meet the demands of professional careers. The Meadows School is a leader in developing innovative outreach and community engagement programs, challenging its students to make a difference locally and globally by developing connections between art, entrepreneurship, and change. The Meadows School of the Arts is also a convener for the arts in North Texas, serving as a catalyst for new collaborations and providing critical industry research. For more information, visit here.



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Aaron D'Eramo performs in Mercuric Tidings Photo by Paul Phillips

A diverse mix of modern, jazz and ballet pieces, including celebrated works by Paul Taylor and George Balanchine and a newer work by jazz dance faculty member Brandi Coleman, will be presented at SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Spring Dance Concert, April 5-9 in the Bob Hope Theatre at SMU.

The program opens with the short classical ballet Valse-Fantaisie (or “fantasy waltz”), choreographed by George Balanchine for New York City Ballet in 1967. The whirlwind dance features a lead couple and four additional women and is set to fast, light music by Mikhail Glinka, Russia’s first national composer. The music and dreamy, romantic costumes create a magical atmosphere in which the dancers seem to take flight. Deceptively simple in its steps and structure, Valse-Fantaisie is difficult to perform yet exhilarating to watch.

The concert continues with What We Do With Time, a rhythm-driven jazz work by Artist-in-Residence Brandi Coleman. The work is based in Jump Rhythm® Technique, a rhythm-generated system of dance training created by Billy Siegenfeld that focuses on percussive energy as a means of expressive dancing. Coleman is the associate artistic director of Jump Rhythm® Jazz Project (JRJP), an Emmy Award-winning performing and teaching company that celebrates the communal core of jazz performance: dancing, scat-singing and storytelling in rhythmically syncopated conversations. What We Do With Time is a quirky, emotion-infused, tongue-in-cheek commentary on stress overload as it impacts one’s journey from isolation to communal engagement. 

Concluding the program is Paul Taylor’s masterwork Mercuric Tidings, described by New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff as “a dance that seemingly bursts into song.” Set to symphonic music by Schubert, it is alternately physically propulsive and elegantly introspective, making it one of Taylor’s most demanding yet poetic creations.  Nationally acclaimed dance alumna Annmaria Mazzini, who recently retired from the Paul Taylor Dance Company after a dozen years as one of PTDC’s principal dancers, spent three weeks at SMU helping train and prepare the students for the concert. In addition, alumnus and current Taylor company principal dancer Michael Trusnovec provided coaching for three days in February while he was in Dallas for a PTDC performance at the Eisemann Center.

Mercuric Tidings demands a speed, strength and navigational skill that pushes its performers to their athletic and mental edges,” said Mazzini, who is now resident choreographer of the American Modern Ensemble and artistic director of the Mazzini Dance Collective in New York. “Achieving this as an individual is the first step, but when every dancer embodies the power and purpose of the entire 13, it becomes pure Taylor magic. It’s so wonderful to see that happening for these dancers. Their collective exuberance is palpable and thrilling, and the joy they are exuding is absolutely genuine, contagious and beautiful to behold!”

Spring Dance Concert performance times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students, SMU faculty and staff.  The Bob Hope Theatre is located inside the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787 or visit