Jasper Dance Writer Susan Lenz Weighs in on Which Nutcracker Ballet to See but Cautions that the Choice is Yours!

Both have snow, tiaras, and take a young Clara on a fairytale journey into the Land of Sweets with dancing variations and a final pas de deux. So, what are the differences? Which company's production should an informed audience member select?

Is that a Unicorn in Columbia City Ballet's Nutcracker?

Is that a Unicorn in Columbia City Ballet's Nutcracker?

 

My husband and I own a little frame shop. My sales counter is in front of a non-working fireplace with a mantel holding family pictures, including some of my dancing son. For years these images seemed to remind clients that ballet is part of my life. Every holiday season, clients excitedly tell me, "I'm going to The Nutcracker!" Of course I'm happy for them and ask, "Which production?" The answer is always the same. "The one at the Koger Center."

 

Further conversation reveals that most people in Columbia are aware that The Nutcracker comes to the Township Auditorium every Thanksgiving weekend. Some even know that this is the civic company.  (I wrote a review of last month's show at http://jasperproject.org/what-jasper-said/88xw7fa24pxcfdb5x77mxf5zyrkgxd). Most seem to know that The Nutcracker also comes to the Koger Center for three weekends in December, but they are totally unaware that two different, local professional ballet companies are putting on these shows. They have no idea to which production they've booked tickets. They have no idea that there is a difference. But there is a difference.

 

The first weekend features Columbia Classical Ballet (Radenko Pavolich, artistic director). The later two weekends feature Columbia City Ballet (William Starrett, artistic director). Yes, the company names are as similar as The Nutcracker's basic storyline.  Both companies use canned Tchaikovsky music, cast students from their independent ballet schools, and include adults from the community in character roles, mainly in the first act's party scene. Both companies sell tickets through the Koger Center's on-line box office. Both have snow, tiaras, and take a young Clara on a fairytale journey into the Land of Sweets with dancing variations and a final pas de deux. So, what are the differences? Which company's production should an informed audience member select?

 

Let me cut to the chase. If one wants to see a technically superior Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, book Radenko's production. I saw Nao Omoya and Koyo Yanagishima on Saturday night. At least I think I did. The program listed double-cast roles but didn't indicate which dancers were performing in which show. I still have no idea who I saw as Clara. Despite being in several Act II variations in both that afternoon's matinee and the evening performance, these two dancers surprisingly had plenty of energy and brought excellent technique to the stage. The dancers for Columbia City Ballet had two performances the following Saturday. I saw both. Claire Richards was lovely but her afternoon partner was weak. Bo Busby and Regina Willoughby looked understandably tired that evening.

 

Yet, who goes to The Nutcracker for just the last pas de deux? In almost every other way, Columbia City Ballet's production was more pleasing.

 

That last sentence was hard for me to write.

 

I'm predisposed against the liberties William Starrrett takes with his production. I'm more inclined to like the traditional dancing dolls during Act I's party scene. Radenko Pavlovich’s Harlequin and Columbine were first rate but couldn't save the scene. That party unfolded as if a series of recital pieces. At one point, all the girls covered the stage rocking baby dolls, and there weren't even enough to go around. Stranger yet, the Nutcracker doll wasn't even a traditional solid. Its legs were moveable, possibly even like a stuffed animal. 

 

William Starrett’s nutcracker doll looks like a nutcracker, but it’s the only doll on stage. Instead of the classic mechanized dancing doll variations, Starrett features a flirtatious Scarlett straight from Gone With the Wind mythology and a courtship dance between Clara’s older sister and a lead cadet. It works though. It works because the Columbia City Ballet dancers are good actors. As the scene continues, the audience has no problem following the plot. The nutcracker doll is broken, repaired, and placed by the Christmas tree. Effortlessly, the audience follows the action. Clara is lurked back to the darkened living room and a dream sequence begins. Mice and rats battle and the nutcracker is magically transformed into a living doll and finally a prince. One doesn’t have to consult the program. The plot is told through the choreography, the dancers, and good lighting.  Virginia Welsh as young Clara, though not technically perfect, was utterly charming and carried the audience into the Land of Snow and beyond.

 

Unfortunately, Columbia Classical Ballet’s dancers generally don’t express much emotion and pivotal moments often occurred in poorly lit areas of the stage. There was too much fog and the machine producing it made a lot of distracting noise. The transitions from the Stahlbaums’ living room into a battle scene and onto the Land of Snow were simply not as magical as intended. Narrative was lost.

 

Columbia Classical Ballet’s Act II is traditional, though it starts oddly. Why? Well, there is no overture played before the ballet begins. Thus, it is strange to listen to the first part of the angelic scene played to the curtain. William Starrett’s Act II starts the same way but his production includes the opening overture. Musically, that seems proper. Musically, Starrett’s Act II is anything but proper. It starts to the correct, heavenly melody and altogether too much gold lamé but then progresses into the Waltz of the Flowers. The other variations are also mixed up and include Neapolitan Ice Cream Flavors and Striped Candy Canes using music that isn’t even from Tchiakovsky’s Nutcracker score. Anyone familiar with the music knows it’s all out of order.

 

Yet, it works. There’s a flow from section to section and a nice mix of humor for sheer entertainment. I didn’t even mind the appearance of a white horse dressed as a unicorn. Admittedly, its a gimmick but it is only a magical inspired entrance. It doesn’t distract from the dancing or the progression of the ballet. 

 

By the end of both ballets, Clara is back in her living room and the audiences are altogether too eager to give standing ovations, as if a requirement. Both ballets had their strong points and weaknesses. Both were worth seeing. 

 

Both companies have extremely enticing opportunities for audience members to witness something special in the coming new year.  On Saturday, January 20th, Columbia Classical Ballet will present their annual LifeChance, an International Ballet Gala of Stars (always one of the best ballet performances in Columbia). On Saturday, January 27th, Columbia City Ballet is partnering with the full South Carolina Philharmonic under Morihiko Nakahara’s baton for Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

Looking ahead, I hope this article assists future audience members make informed decisions about their Nutcracker options. Best bet: see both and compare! Maybe you’ll agree with my impressions. Maybe next year’s productions will be entirely different. There’s still time to catch the last weekend of Columbia City Ballet’s Nutcracker. It can be seen at the Koger Center:

3:00 PM Saturday, December 16, 2017
7:30 PM Saturday, December 16, 2017
3:00 PM Sunday, December 17, 2017

 

Postscript: Most informed audience members know something else. Using LED devices is strictly prohibited. The family sitting in front of me during Columbia Classical Ballet’s Nutcracker used a cell phone to record the entire Bon-Bon variation. The gentleman sitting beside my husband at Columbia City Ballet’s Nutcracker checked his email during the Sugar Plum pas de deux.  Please, go to the shows but don’t do this!

Susan Lenz - photo by Forrest Clonts

Susan Lenz - photo by Forrest Clonts

Susan Lenz is a full time, professional studio artist in Columbia, South Carolina. Her studio is located at Mouse House, Inc. at 2123 Park Street where she has both a studio for 3D sculptural and installation work and a separate fiber art studio. Susan's work has been juried into numerous national and international exhibits, featured in solo shows all over the United States, and shown on television and in print. She has been awarded six full scholarship art residencies and several "Best of Show" ribbons. She blogs at 

http://www.susanlenz.com/

http://artbysusanlenz.blogspot.com

http://decisionportraits.blogspot.com

http://graverubbingquilts.blogspot.com

Jasper 2013 Artists of the Year Nominations -- Open Now!

Jasper leaf logo Jasper Magazine is accepting nominations for the title “Artist of the Year” in each of the following five categories:

  • Dance
  • Theatre
  • Music
  • Visual Arts
  • Literary Arts

Artists, 18 and older, working in the greater Columbia arts community are eligible for the title based upon their artistic accomplishments during the period from September 2012 until September 2013.*

Nominations should be sent to editor@JasperColumbia.com with the subject heading “Artist of the Year” and should be accompanied by

1)   a single paragraph explaining why the nominee should be considered -- this is the place where you wax poetic & sing the praises of your nominee in terms that will touch our hearts

2)   a brief, but comprehensive list of work produced, performed , published, or presented during the September 15th, 2012 – September 14th, 2013 time period -- this is the place where you get serious. You know all that stuff you said in the paragraph above? We don't need to hear it again. What we need to hear are the specific enumerated accomplishments your nominee has made over the past 12 months and the dates of accomplishment. (Note:  it broke our hearts last year when we weren't able to include highly deserving candidates whose nominators failed to list their nominees' many accomplishments. For our sake, please follow the instructions.)

3) a sentence stating that you have consulted your candidate and she or he has agreed to participate in the competition.

Nominations must be received online by midnight September 14, 2013.

Results will be announced in the November issue of Jasper Magazine.

Upon closing of the nomination call, a panel of judges will select the top three candidates in each field and, from these three finalists, the public will be invited to vote online for each of their top choices at the Jasper website.

  • There is no fee to enter.
  • Artists may nominate themselves.
  • Artists should be made aware of their nomination and agree to participate in the competition.

The category Dance includes:  performance, choreography, or direction of any form of dance including, but not limited to ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, ballroom, Latin, or folk.

The category Theatre includes: directing or acting in one or more local performances.

The category Music includes: conducting, directing, writing, or performing any style of music in one or more local concerts or recordings; both individuals and groups are eligible.

The category Visual Arts includes: the completion and presentation of any form of non-performing or non-literary arts, such as painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, print-making, mixed-media, and (new this year) set design, etc.

The category Literary Arts includes: the completion, publication, and/or presentation of any form of prose, poetry, or non-fiction writing, as well as playwriting and the writing of executed screenplays.

*Jasper 2013 Artist of the Year Awards will not be awarded based on achievements accomplished prior to September 15th, 2012. The purpose of the awards is to recognize artistic achievements accomplished within a calendar year, not over a lifetime.

 

Congratulations to our outgoing

Jasper 2012 Artists of the Year

on a year well-served!

Regina Willoughby - Dance

Kwame Dawes - Literary Arts

Morihiko Nakahara - Music

Chad Henderson - Theatre

Susan Lenz - Visual Arts

 

Fine Print

  • Previous winners of Jasper Artists of the Year are not eligible for nomination for a three year period following the year in which they won.
  • Previous nominees who did not win are eligible to be nominated in subsequent years.
  • Artists must have resided in Columbia, SC during the September 2012 - 2013 time period. Artists who are from Columbia, but no longer live here, are no longer eligible for Jasper Artists of the Year Awards.
  • Works in progress will not be considered.
  • Employees of Jasper Magazine and clients of Muddy Ford Press are not eligible for competition.

 

Jasper 2012 Artists of the Year Finalists

Jasper Magazine is pleased to announce the finalists for Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year in the categories of Dance, Literary Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.

~

Dance:  Brooklyn Mack, Regina Willoughby, and Marcy Jo Yonkey-Clayton

Literary Arts:  Kwame Dawes, Julia Elliott, and Dianne Johnson

Music:  Aaron Graves, Morihiko Nakahara, and Josh Roberts

Theatre:  Chad Henderson, Vicky Saye Henderson, and Shelby Sessler

Visual Arts:   Thomas Crouch, Lyon Hill, and Susan Lenz

~

The above 15 artists were among a number of artists nominated by their peers and fans. Based on the information submitted with the nominations, a panel of judges selected the top three artists in each category to compete for the title Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year.

Now the fun begins! You’re invited to vote for your choice for Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year in each of the five categories by visiting the Jasper website. There, you’ll find summaries of each artist’s accomplishments for the period of September 15, 2011 – September 15, 2012.

The winners of Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year in Dance, Literary Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts will be announced at 7 pm November 15, 2012 at the release of Jasper Magazine V. 002, N. 002 at City Art during Vista Lights. All 15 artists will be featured in the same issue of Jasper Magazine.

For more on the finalists, please continue reading.

 

Jasper 2012 Artist of the Year Finalists

Dance

Brooklyn Mack

Although Brooklyn Mack’s full time position in the Washington Ballet doesn’t allow him as much time in the SC Midlands as he once had, the dancer still considers Elgin his home and, despite a career that finds him dancing across the continents, the Columbia area is where you’ll find him during almost any time off. Nominated by Dance Magazine as one of the 25 young dancers to watch in 2012, Mack was the first African American male to win the Gold Medal at the 2012 Varna International Ballet Competition. He won the gold medal at the 2nd Annual Boston International Ballet Competition and the Grand Prix at the 3rd International Istanbul Ballet Competition, both in June 2012. An interview on National Public Radio, an invitation to dance at the Kremlin Palace, and guest solo artist invitations and performances in Indiana and at Jackson, not to mention performances with Columbia Classical Ballet and Washington Ballet, round out a busy year for Mack.

 

Marcy Jo Yonkey-Clayton

Recipient of the 2012 South Carolina Arts Commission Fellowship Award for Dance Choreography, Yonkey-Clayton created the dance, The More We Get Together (performed in Columbia, SC and Albany, GA), as well as Get On It, performed at the Columbia College Fall 2011 Faculty Concert. She danced in the following performances: Cow Beans & Cool Water, Angel Train, The More We Get Together, and the Columbia College Dance Lab’s Third Annual Campus Walking Tour of Dance. An assistant professor at Columbia College, Yonkey-Clayton teaches emerging dance artists, choreographs and performs with the Power Company, and the CCdanceLab. This year she taught at the American College Dance Festival in Albany, GA, the SC Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in Myrtle Beach, and the Greenville Fine Arts Center, as well as for Richland One Dance and Columbia College Summer Camp. She completed a Choreography Residence at Ridge View High School, serves as editor awards committee member for the South Carolina Dance Association.

 

Regina Willoughby

Ballerina with Columbia City Ballet, Regina Willoughby danced the following starring roles with the company between September 2011 and 2012 – Lucy in Dracula, Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, (a role she says she has dreamed of dancing for 20 years!), and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (a role she says she felt she needed to conquer before she retires). She also appeared with Ballet Spartanburg’s Dance Synergy III and earned the American Ballet Theater Teacher Training Curriculum certification in NYC.

~~~

Literary Arts

 

Kwame Dawes

Earlier this year, Kwame Dawes joined the ranks of Ansel Adams, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Derek Walcott, and Eudora Welty, as winner of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  Dawes was one of 181 scholars, artists, and scientists selected from nearly 3000 applicants.  In March he received the Poets & Writers magazine Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, which recognizes writers who have given generously to other writers.  Even though Dawes moved to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln last year to become the editor of the renowned literary magazine Prairie Schooner, the Jamaican poet says he still thinks of himself as a South Carolinian, and much of his work has been about getting South Carolina writers in print. Within the past year, Dawes published Home Is Where: An Anthology of African American Poetry from the Carolinas, an essential collection of contemporary African-American writers from South and North Carolina published by Hub City Press of Spartanburg and launched at the Columbia Museum of Art last fall.  He also published Jubilation: An Anthology of Poetry Celebrating Fifty Years of Jamaican Independence (Peepal Tree, 2012) and his groundbreaking poetry and journalism project, Voices of Haiti, which won the National Press club’s 2011 Joan Friedenberg Award for Online Journalism, is now available as an I-book from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Recording.  Two books forthcoming this fall also suggest his continuing commitment to South Carolina voices:  Seeking: South Carolina Poets Responding to the Art of Jonathan Green (USC Press, fall 2012), and Seven Strong: South Carolina Poetry Prize Winners (also USC Press, fall 2012), selections from the state poetry prize series founded in by Dawes in 2005.

 

 Julia Elliott

“Totally original” is what the awards committee for the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award said of Cayce writer Julia Elliott, or more precisely, “incredibly imaginative, sharply observed, and totally original.”  Elliott was one of six women writers selected this fall for the $30,000 award, which is given annually to writers who demonstrate excellence and promise early in their careers.  Two short stories were published this spring in Conjunctions and in Tin House, journals known for experimental literary fiction, and her story “Regeneration at Mukti,” originally published in Conjunctions, received a Pushcart Prize and will appear in the 2013 anthology later this year.  An assistant professor English and Women’s and Gender Studies at USC, Elliott is currently finishing The New and Improved Romie Futch, a novel about a SC taxidermist, as well as working on a second novel about primatologists and baboons, which she studied in-depth at the NC Zoo in Asheboro in 2011 as recipient of a creative arts grant from USC.

 

 Dianne Johnson

Last year, Columbia city officials chose Dianne Johnson’s All Around Town: The Photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts, originally published in 1998, for the city reading initiative Together We Can.  As the program’s featured writer, Johnson gave 45 presentations in 6 weeks, working in partnership with the Columbia Museum of Art and Richland County Public Library, and interacting with over 2000 third graders from Richland District One, working.  Wearing her signature red “FREADOM” shirt, she talks with children about the kinds of freedom they can have if they master reading.  Every student received a copy of the book, which brings Columbia history to life with Roberts’ photographs of Columbia’s African-American communities from the 1920s, accompanied by Johnson’s poetry.  A professor of English at USC, Johnson was also featured at the Upcountry Literary Festival at USC-Union and the South Carolina Book Festival, and she served as a judge for the SC State Library Letters about Literature Program and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators New Writers Contest.  One of her nominators lauded “her contribution to the lives and futures of these 2000 children” and “her tireless enthusiasm and respect for all children.”

~~~ 

 Music

Aaron Graves (of Those Lavender Whales)

As the leader/mastermind behind the oddball indie-pop outfit Those Lavender Whales and one of the primary forces behind the community-centered Fork & Spoon Records, Graves is at the very heart of the music scene here in Columbia. While often more associated with his promotional efforts at Fork & Spoon, this past year has been more focused on his long-gestating full-lengthTomahawk of Praise, a powerfully honest and arresting album that pairs quirky arrangements with lyrics that tackle the nature of family, faith, and growing up in what is (arguably) the most fully-realized local recording of 2012. A sold-out release show, numerous regional shows, a tour up the East Coast, and notable performances at the Free Times Music Crawl and the Arts & Draughts series rounded out a banner year for Graves and his band, which also includes his wife Jessica Bornick, and Fork & Spoon co-founder Chris Gardner.

 

Josh Roberts (of Josh Roberts & the Hinges)

Frequently touted as one of the city's best live acts, Josh Roberts has long been known as one of our scene's true guitar gods, a masterful rock and roller who is capable of both extended technical flights of improvisation fancy and writing monster guitar riff after monster guitar riff. Highlight performances over the past year have included opening gigs for the likes of Band of Horses and Drive-by Truckers as well as a year-capping performance before headliner George Clinton on New Year’s 2011 on Main Street. And just a few weeks ago, Roberts ended a five year recording drought with the Hinges with the release of Mighty Old Distance and Murky Old Time, a concise distillation of the power of his songwriting and guitar chops that captures the musician at the top of his game.

 

Morihiko Nakahara

In 2011- 2012, Morihiko Nakahara completed his 4th year as Music Director and Conductor of the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra. He also serves as Resident Conductor for the Spokane Symphony in Spokane, Washington. Acclaimed as a versatile artist and a passionate believer in music education for all ages, Nakahara leads a series of successful educational and community access concerts every season. In addition, he is a popular clinician, guest conductor, and speaker at various educational institutions. As a personable ambassador for classical music, Nakahara makes frequent appearances on local media outlets as well as at local businesses and service clubs.

~~~

Visual Arts

Lyon Hill

Lyon Hill creates two-dimensional visual art, and as filmmaker, puppeteer, and Artistic Director of the Columbia Marionette Theatre, designs three-dimensional creations as well.  In 2012 he was an awarded participant in the What's Love: input/output exhibition at 701 Whaley.  In the past year he has performed numerous works featuring his creations:  Supine at the Columbia Indie Grits Festival/Spork in Hand Puppet Slam and at the Center for Puppetry Arts National Slam in Atlanta, GA, an excerpt from Hansel and Gretel as part of Pocket Productions' "Playing After Dark" series, and assorted Marionette Theatre productions (including The Brementown Musicians, The Brave Tin Soldier, Pinocchio, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.)  His short film Junk Palace was awarded a Citation of Excellence in the Recorded Media category by the American Chapter of the UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionette.) 

 Thomas Crouch

Creator of the Art Bar Agora, an annual artists’ showcase by and for artists, Crouch produced the third annual showcase in late spring 2012. His art exhibits this year include “Wolfs vs. Baboons” solo show at the Tapps Arts Center, Artista Vista, Mingle and Jingle on Main Street and at the SC Philharmonic Orchestra benefit, “Jail Break” at the Charleston Old City Jail, “No Man’s Land” solo show at Gallery 701 Hallway, an open Farmers’ Market booth, the “Bullets for Band-Aids” veteran’s benefit, “Logical Operator—she loves Me, She Loves Me Not” for the What’s Love solo hallway show. He participated in the Trustus Theatre arts/theatre collaboration for the musical Passing Strange, exhibited at Middleton Gardens in Charleston for the Charleston International Film Festival Live Auction, a Garden Deli show in Columbia, as well as at the Tapp’s Ronald McDonald House Fundraiser, and The Pretty Girls Feminist Art show. Crouch recently gave a presentation on his creative process for High Noon City Art, participated in the S & S Art Supply panel fundraiser, and was commissioned to produce the cover for the short story collection, Buttered Biscuits.

 

Susan Lenz

Textile and Installation Artist Susan Lenz completed three artist residencies and scholarship programs this year including Studios Midwest, in Galesburg, IL, The Studios at Key West in Key West, FL, and the Hot Springs National Park Artist Residency at Hot Springs, AR. She was the recipient of the SC Palmetto Hands Juried Fine Craft Exhibition Best of Show award in North Charleston, SC and the Niche Award 2011 for fibers in the decorative category winner by Niche Magazine in Baltimore, MD. Her exhibitions include the following: the 2012 Quilt Festival at the la Conner Quilt and Textile Museum in La Conner, WA; a solo show, Fiber Architecture:  Buildings in Stitches at Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts in VA; an invitational show, Decision Portraits at Quilt, Inc.’s International Quilt Show in Houston; Lowell Art Quilt 2012 at the Brush Gallery in Lowell, MA; Material Voice at Ayers Loft Gallery in Lowell, MA; Small Stories at Urban Alchemist in Brooklyn, NY; a solo show, Sun and Sand at Frame of Mind, in Columbia; an invitational show, Narrative Threads at the Page-Walker Gallery in Cary, NC; I’m Not Crazy, Studio Art Quilt Associates traveling exhibition; La Grange National XXVII in LaGrange, GA; a solo show, Last Words, at the Imperial Center, Rocky Mount, NC; the 33rd Annual Contemporary Crafts at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, AZ; an invitational show, Meet the Designers at the Columbia Museum of Art; Crafts National at Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, KS, Art and the Human Form: Concept, Costume & Beyond, Blue Door Gallery, Yonkers, NY; Textiles in a Tube 2 at Riverworks Gallery in Greenville, SC; the SC Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Exhibition in North Charleston; the 2012 Exhibition at McKissick Museum; a solo show, Last Words at Vision Gallery in Chandler, AZ; an invitational show, The Winter Show at Green Hill Center in Greensboro, NC; Art of Fiber at Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, VA; Fine Crafts at Fredericksburg Creative Center for the Arts in VA; SAQA Layers of Memories, Studio Art Quilt; National Fiber Directions Exhibition 2011, Wichita, KS; Tapps Center for the Arts window installation, Two Hours at the Beach; an invitational show, Green: The Color and the Cause at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC; National Juried Quilt Exhibit at Delaplane Visual Arts Center in Frederick, MD; Unearth: A Celebration of Naturally Inspired Art at Saluda Shoals in Columbia; and the National Heritage Quilt Show at McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in Athens, TN.

 

~~~

Theatre

Chad Henderson

One of Columbia's youngest professional directors, Chad Henderson has helmed six shows, all coincidentally musicals, in the past year at three of the area's major theatres:  John and Jen at Workshop Theatre, Pinkalicious - The Musical (which was revived later in the season after selling out 100% of its performances) at Columbia Children's Theatre, and Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, Avenue Q, and Next to Normal, all at Trustus Theatre.  Additionally, he represented the Midlands via a residency at The Studios of Key West in Florida, where he directed the 24-hour theatre festival "One Night Stand."  As an actor, he was seen in The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Trustus, as well as in training scenarios for law enforcement and counseling professionals in SC, MT and NM.

Vicky Saye Henderson

Vicky Saye Henderson has been seen in five stage productions in the last year: Andrew Lippa's Wild Party (as Queenie, the tortured showgirl) at Workshop Theatre, and at Trustus Theatre Next to Normal (as Diana, the bipolar wife and mom) Spring Awakening (all adult females), The Great American Trailer Park Musical (as Betty) and Almost an Evening (multiple roles.)  Additionally she acted in two staged readings of plays at Trustus: Southern Discomfort and Satan in High Heels. A SC Arts Commision-approved teaching artist, she has worked with numerous schools, colleges, churches, businesses and individuals, offering specialized courses in theatre arts, improvisation, and professional development.  Her improv and sketch comedy training program for youth, ReWired, is in its 6th year at Workshop Theatre, and she is director for drama ministries at St. Andrews Lutheran Church.  She also appeared in two film projects, Lola's Prayer and Taken In, which were screened at three film festivals, including Columbia's Indie Grits Festival.

Shelby Sessler 

A senior Music major concentrating in voice at USC, Shelby Sessler has performed diverse roles at four of Columbia's major theatres in the past year: the naive Pickles in The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Trustus Theatre, the titular tyke in Pinkalicious - The Musical at Columbia Children's Theatre, Vivienne the snooty antagonist in Legally Blonde at Workshop Theatre, and all three female roles (a German femme fatale, a forlorn Scottish farm wife, and a proper British lady) in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps at Town Theatre. Additionally she teaches voice in Workshop Theatre's Broadway Bound Program. Behind the scenes, Sessler worked as Assistant Stage Manager for the SC Shakespeare Co.'s spring production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged.)

Southeastern Piano Festival kicks off 10th anniversary with big concert at the Koger Center

 

If you love the piano, have we got a week for you.

The Southeastern Piano Festival kicks off its 10th year with a Piano Extravaganza concert featuring 16 pianist, five pianos and the S.C. Philharmonic on June 10 at the Koger Center for the Arts. The festival runs through June 16 with concerts by well-known and up-and-coming musicians.

“The festival has been a success on so many levels and we’re thrilled to be celebrating our first decade,” said Marina Lomazov, Festival Artistic Director. “The festival continues to provide top-flight training for young musicians, but has also grown to be one of the most significant showcases of piano music.”

Dr. Lomazov will perform at the Piano Extravaganza along with fellow USC piano faculty Joseph Rackers and  Charles Fugo, guest pianist Phillip Bush, a dozen past winners of Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition, and the S.C. Philharmonic conducted by Music Director Morihiko Nakahara.  The concert includes works by Mozart, Bach and Wagner and five pianists performing movements from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst on five Steinway concert grand pianos. The concert will close with Lomazov and Rackers playing the Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor by Francis Poulenc.

The festival blends a week of exciting concerts with a training program for 19 young pianists from around the country and one from Australia who take part in the Fraser Competition. Those who want to see some of tomorrow’s great pianists today can watch the competition from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 15. Competition winners will give the closing concert June 16.

Among the other highlights of the week are performances by Boris Slutsky, first prize winner of the Kapell International Piano Competition and chair of the piano department at the Peabody Institute, playing the music of Ravel, Chopin and Schuman on June 13 and Alessio Bax, recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, performing Rachmaninoff and Liszt pieces on June 14.

Students attending the festival will give an afternoon concert at the Columbia Museum of Art June 12. A number of young pianists will be in the spotlight including past winners of the Fraser Competition Leo Svirsky and Sean Yeh performing June 11 and George Li, the 15-year-old winner of the Gilmore Young Artist Award, playing June 12.

Admission to the Piano Extravaganza is $25 for VIP seating and $15 general admission, $10 for seniors, students, military, USC faculty and staff and free for those under 18. Tickets are available through capitoltickets.com or by calling (803) 251-2222.

The other concerts will be held at the USC School of Music Recital Hall. Admission is $20; $10 for seniors, USC faculty and staff, students and military and free to everyone under  18.  For tickets call (803) 576-5763 or email  frontoffice@mozart.sc.edu

The Svirsky and Yeh concert is $5.

The competition concert is free.

For a complete schedule and more information about tickets, concerts, guest artists and participants visit the Piano Festival website http://sepf.music.sc.edu/

Concert lineup for the Southeastern Piano Festival (unless otherwise noted concerts are at the USC School of Music Recital Hall, Assembly and College streets.)

Sunday, June 10, 4 p.m. Piano Extravaganza concert.

Monday, June 11, 7:30 p.m. Alumni Celebration Concert with Leo Svirsky and Sean Yeh.

Tuesday, June 12, 1:30 – 3 p.m. Southeastern Piano Festival on the Road. Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St.

Tuesday, June 12, 7:30 p.m. George Li.

Wednesday, June 13, 7:30 p.m. Boris Slutsky.

Thursday, June 14, 7:30 p.m. Alessio Bax.

Friday, June 15, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition.

Saturday, June 16, 7 p.m. Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition Winners' Concert and Closing Ceremony.