This season’s Heller Awards for Young Artists are heating up and we’ve got 30 Greater Austin schools along for the ride!

Keep your eyes on @hellerawardsatx wherever you get your social media updates. We’ll be rolling out updates and details on this year’s new Student Competition, as well as other highlights, stories, and more. PLUS, students, be sure you sign up for our FREE December workshops!

And don’t forget — Select Ensemble auditions are now open and ready for your video submissions through December 21st! We’ll be sharing tips and tricks along the way.

Now, let’s give it up for these schools!

Heller Awards for Young Artists
Heller Awards for Young Artists
Heller Awards for Young Artists

We’re so excited to celebrate musical theatre together this year — watch this space!

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This week’s Mid-Week Intermission comes from our friend Gustavo — get ready to jump-start your positivity, rediscover your journaling pens, and find your center. Check out what keeps him going!

Hi friends!

My name is Gustavo Padron. I’m a yoga and meditation instructor as well as a wellness coach and content creator. I relocated to the beautiful city of Austin, Texas in 2008 to attend UT Austin and pursue my dream of becoming a Doctor (more on this in one of my own blog posts later). I remember meeting Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long at a scholarship award ceremony my first year of college; their kindness and fervor for philanthropy and community was captivating and inspiring. And ever since, I’ve been a fan of the Long Center.

I can recall a few unforgettable nights at the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Trailer Food Tuesdays, especially. The Long Center is an iconic venue that will always hold a very special place in my heart. Here’s to hoping that we can gather in community and experience the magic that is always created at the Long Center very soon!

Like all of you, the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the way I live and operate. This time at home has given me the space to do more of the things I love and never made time for. Here’s how I’m spending my off-time when I’m not teaching yoga, coaching clients, or writing and creating content.

Gustavo Padron | Mid-Week Intermission | Long Center
Here’s Gustavo ☝️

5 Things Gustavo Has Rediscovered

MEDITATION & JOURNALING

I have always had a consistent meditation and journaling practice, but I always felt rushed and it felt more like a chore than ritual. Spending more time at home has allowed me to devote the first 30 minutes of every morning to feeling grounded so I can be more present throughout the day.

My mornings now consist of drinking 1 liter of water when I wake up, meditating for 10 minutes, brewing some coffee, and writing in my gratitude journal. I’m loving all the wonderful guided meditations from teachers at yogaglo, and I also recorded a short meditation you can access for free.

OUTDOOR RUNNING

I used to run a ton when I was in my teens and early twenties — this is actually how I discovered yoga, and you can hear more about my story on this podcast with 365 Things Austin.

I’ve always found joy in being outdoors and moving my body, and I guess life got busy and I forgot how good I feel when I am one with nature. Having more free time has allowed me to rekindle my relationship with running. You don’t have to be a”runner” to run — start small and move your body in ways that feel good to you. If you need a little motivation, this playlist always gets me going.

PUZZLES

I truly forgot how much I enjoyed building puzzles. Growing up, I was never the sporty kid or the video game kid — I was fascinated with puzzles. I remember my mom and I would spend a few hours every evening working on cute picturesque puzzles. This is a memory I will forever cherish and something I’ll continue to devote time to and, maybe one day, do this with my own children. So far, I’ve done three 5000 piece puzzles.

hand holding blue crystal | Long Center

CRYSTALS & STONES

This is so hippie of me but I am a firm believer in crystals. It’s something I was introduced to in my teens when my parents and I hiked Big Bend National Park. Anytime we found a cute little rock, crystal, or stone, they would be in awe. So I’ve been doing some research and visited Crystal Works Austin. I got an Obsidian (for grounding purposes) and an Apatite Madagascar (to enhance creativity and help with manifesting). I truly do not know if crystals work, but I believe they do, and maybe that’s what keeps me optimistic and hopeful even through these trying times.

olive oil zucchini break | Long Center

BAKING

I have the biggest sweet tooth ever, so naturally baking sweet treats has been the highlight of spending time at home. I am currently obsessed with this Olive Oil Zucchini Bread that my friend Dree McCarrel turned me onto. Get the recipe via NY Times Cooking.

Thank you for reading along! We are all learning to navigate this thing called life and now more than ever, it is so important that we prioritize our self-care and rediscover what brings us joy. It is my hope that this little blog post inspires you to reconnect with your own passions and interests. Here’s to making the best of life and trusting that we will come out of this pandemic with a greater appreciation for life and learning how to make the everyday, ordinary things feel more extraordinary.

KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST
Every day we get closer to hanging out again! Sign up for our email updates, and we’ll make sure you’re getting the stories, alerts, and community updates you’ve been looking for.Gustabvo

When Austin Film Festival started planning their 2020 Fest & Writers Conference, intending this year to be bigger and better than ever, they had no idea that meant making their 27th Annual Fest completely virtual. But, as the first time AFF has ever focused exclusively on digital platforms, they’re taking this opportunity by the horns.

The Festival is still packed with 5 days of virtual panels and 8 days of virtual film screenings, October 22 through 29, and with badge options for the casual viewer and the dedicated cinephile, alike, it’s now more accessible than ever.

“We’re excited and confident that this year’s Festival — while it might have a different look — will still be all the things that our audience has grown to love about AFF,” says Kelly Lafargue, Marketing Director for the Fest.

The decision to go all virtual certainly wasn’t easy, but AFF thinks you’ll really like how they’ve brought all the usual suspects from the Festival (like panels, films, roundtables, networking opportunities, and pitch competitions) into the virtual realm, with two ways for you to enjoy this year:

VIRTUAL BADGE – This one gets you access to the full Film Festival and Writers Conference.

VIRTUAL FILM PASS – Or, skip the panels and workshops from the Conference side, and just go the film route.

How to Best the Fest

With a virtual festival, it can be hard to know where to jump in! Austin Film Fest has put together this handy guide to answer all your questions so that you can truly best this fest.

Get familiar with the platforms involved, how your Virtual Badge or Virtual Film Pass works (lookout students, there’s a Badge for you, too!), and make sure you’re prepared to watch in the way that fits you best.

Fest Schedule Highlights

With so much to absorb, dive right in to AFF’s full film schedule and start planning your week for ultimate enjoyment. Among the many premieres, watch out for:

MARQUEE FEATURES
Dave Not Coming Back, by director Jonah Malak
Golden Arm, written by Ann Marie Allison, Jenna Milly, and directed by Maureen Bharoocha

WRITERS CONFERENCE PANELS
Featuring conversations with Gina Prince Bythewood (The Old GuardLove & Basketball), plus Alec Berg and Bill Hader (Barry) and so many others.

INTERNATIONAL FILMS
The world, North American, and US Premieres of films from Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Cameroon, Iran, France, and Poland.

And of course, some sizable Texas talent!

Dig in to that film schedule and decide what Badge is right for you. And, just for reading, Austin Film Festival would like to save you $15 off a Virtual Badge with the code LC15 — enjoy this 2020 virtual AFF experience unlike any other!

We’re so pleased to announce the community leaders joining our Board of Trustees for the 2020-21 year! We want to welcome our new Board Officers, all long-serving and vital members of our Long Center Board over the years, and share our excitement for the future.

“Our board is a phenomenal group of leaders that are committed to elevating arts and culture in Austin. This group will continue the remarkable legacy of the Long Center while helping us realize our full potential to serve our community,” says Cory Baker, our President & CEO.

Our Board of Trustees guides the Long Center with overall management, both in money matters and strategy. As the governing body of the organization, the Long Center’s sustainability and growth as a nonprofit is their ultimate goal.

“I am honored to serve as Long Center Board Chair. While we have and will continue adapting to the pandemic, I want to underscore to the community from the Long Center Board and staff that diversity, equity, and inclusion will overlay all that we do. We sit in the heart of Austin, and our priority is ensuring Austinites of every color and identity see their experiences reflected here and feel welcome,” says A.J. Bingham, Board Chair.

We’re also so thankful to Dan Graham, Liz Arreaga, Tom Sellers, and Craig Hester whose board tenure has ended this year. “The contributions of these members are forever valued and have helped ensure our stability and growth for decades to come,” says Cory.

Get know our new Board Officers — they’re excited to see you back at the Long Center soon!

What’s next for the Long Center?

Our Board Officers got together to discuss exactly this on our latest Long Story Short, a members-first sneak peek for our Long Center Members. Watch along to discover how creativity, community, and equity & inclusion will guide the future.

 

Long Center’s 2020-2021 Board of Trustees

OFFICERS

AJ Bingham | Long Center

A.J. BINGHAM, The Bingham Group, L.L.C.
BOARD CHAIR

 

A.J. is the Founder and CEO of The Bingham Group, LLC, a full-service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on government affairs, public affairs, and procurement matters in the Austin metro and throughout Central Texas.

Prior to launching the firm, A.J. served as Director of Government Affairs for the Real Estate Council of Austin. He began his lobbying career at one of Texas’ top lobbying firms, rising to Legislative Director over four years and two legislative sessions. He previously worked at a leading Texas government procurement firm as a consultant for medium to Global Fortune 500 companies.

Outside of work, he teaches an MBA-level government relations course at Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. He also enjoys developing the firm’s podcast, The BG Podcast.

A.J. is a past Austin Under 40 Awards finalist (Government and Public Affairs) and was ranked in the top 10 of Capitol Inside’s 2015 Rising Star (Texas Lobby Power Rankings). His philanthropy is focused on youth, education, and arts, and includes board service on The Bingham Group Foundation, Trail of Lights Foundation, Young Men’s Business League of Austin, and Austin Sunshine Camps.

Veronica Rosas Fernandez | Long Center

VERÓNICA ROSAS FERNÁNDEZ, Claimbot
BOARD VICE CHAIR

 

An Austin native, Verónica is a seasoned finance professional with 20+ years of providing financial analysis and compliance guidance for companies like American Express, Merrill Lynch and AT&T. Verónica is currently the CFO/COO at Elephant Labs, Inc. – Claimbot, where she has been instrumental in their capital raise led by Google.

Verónica lends her skills to several local non-profit causes that are close to her heart. She is the current Board Chair and past Treasurer for Con Mi MADRE an organization that provides educational programming for Latina teenagers in Texas. At the Long Center she serves as Vice Chair, past Finance Chair and Secretary for the Board of Trustees, where she helps lead finance and development activities. Verónica is also a member of the Zilker Elementary PTA where she has led the charge for the implementation of a Spanish Immersion program.

Verónica is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and enjoys running at Lady Bird Lake. She feels blessed to raise her family here in Austin, her hometown.

Lisa Lucero | Long Center

LISA LUCERO, AT&T
BOARD SECRETARY

 

Lisa Lucero is a Director with AT&T External and Legislative Affairs. Lucero is currently Co-Chair of the Long Center’s Business Arts Council and a member of the Board of Trustees since 2017. Lucero also serves on the Board for Dress for Success Austin and the St. Austin Catholic School Advisory Board. Lucero is a former appointee to the Governor’s Commission for Women and OneStar Foundation, promoting volunteerism and overseeing the administration of the AmeriCorps programs for the state.

Lucero was honored with the Game Changer Award in 2013 by GirlStart, a local non-profit empowering young women with an interest in science, technology and math. Lucero began her appreciation for Austin’s performing arts while attending the University of Texas, Lucero and her daughters haven’t missed a Nutcracker performance in 22 years!

Lynn Yeldell | Long Center

LYNN YELDELL, Seventh Scout
IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR

 

Lynn’s professional experience spans financial services where she worked in mergers & acquisitions for Louisiana’s largest bank holding company and wealth management at UBS Financial Services. After being recruited away from financial services in 2012, Lynn is enjoying the second half of her career working with and investing in startups including such as Bazaarvoice, TicketBud, and L Style G Style. Her professional sweet spot is blending the structure of her business background with the insight of investing in and running startups to help guide our client partners through thoughtful and deliberative growth.

With a finance degree from the University of Alabama, Lynn was the first woman to be elected president of the Student Government Association and was recognized as one of the 20 trailblazing women to graduate from the University in the past 125 years. With an MBA from the University of Texas, Lynn was one of the first students to focus on the entrepreneurial case study program which later became the academic foundation of the Acton MBA.

Giving back to her community is deeply important to Lynn and, in addition to her appointment as an officer on the Long Center Board of Trustees, she is an Advisory Board member of KUT/KUTX, a Human Rights Campaign Federal Club Member, and many more.

TRUSTEES

Blake Absher BB&T
Jeff Bidstrup Morgan Stanley
Amber Bradbury Google
Mike Brown PlainsCapital Bank
Shayna Brown Chez Boom Audio
Solomon Cole AB Private Credit Investors
Griffin Davis Angel Investor
Todd Davis Marsh Wortham Insurance
Aysha Doman Kastner Gravelle, LLP
Pat Feigley PIMCO
Bob Feiner Dell
Jay Fox Baylor Scott & White Health
Amanda Gibson St. David’s Healthcare
Jennifer Gravenor Northern Trust – Austin Symphony Orchestra Rep.
Alex Ladage UBS – Ballet Austin Rep.
Frank Livaudais iFLY Indoor Skydiving
Elizabeth Medina Concordia University
JoAnne Midwikis Whitley Penn
Aaron Percy Blackbaud
Josh Petrawksi General Motors
Brian Powell Stravaro, LLC – Austin Opera Rep.
Jim Taylor Retired
Robin Thigpin Wells Fargo
Andrew Weber Kelly Hart & Hallman, LLP
Mark Wheeler Oil and Gas Consultant

HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS

Joe R. Long Chair Emeritus
Jare Smith Honorary Trustee

Long Center Board Officers

After an inspiring, creative, tough, extraordinary, challenging, enriching, uplifting, and satisfying 2020 virtual ceremony — seriously, well done everyone! — the Heller Awards for Young Artists are back and ready for another year, whatever comes our way. And keep an eye out — you’ll see us sporting our new @hellerawardsatx social handles, too!

You can count on us to celebrate excellence in musical theatre, especially where Austin’s young artists are involved. Over the past 7 years, we’ve gotten used to doing this with our beloved red-carpet ceremony, and though we don’t know what next spring will bring, you bet we’ll still be highlighting the hard work of Austin’s schools, educators, and students, and bringing you messages of creativity, hope, and humor along the way.

What’s new this year?

To best meet the needs of the vast network of Greater Austin schools, we’ve revamped a few things:

SCHOOL PARTICIPATION
After extensive listening and planning, we were intent that no school should feel like participation in the 2020-21 HAYA program wasn’t an option this year. We know each school has differing levels of ability and capacity to create musicals safely and that some may not feel that they can do much at all. That’s why we’ve chosen to eliminate the usual competition between schools and instead celebrate and support whatever musical theatre looks like this year. Instead, schools are encouraged to submit brief video content showcasing anything that combines song, dance, and storytelling. Our three favorite things!

OPTIONAL STUDENT COMPETITION
Also new this year is an optional student competition. Allowing the creativity of our students to freely flow, this is their opportunity to work independently or as a virtual team to create content in various categories — like solos, edited group numbers, original songs, technical design, and more — and proudly represent their school programs.

EDUCATOR WORKSHOPS & MASTER CLASSES
To keep our community even more connected, we’ll be rolling out a schedule of workshops, master classes, guest lectures, and more throughout the year. Plus, for the first time ever, we’re excited to highlight middle school programs, too!

How will Select Ensemble work this year?

Rest assured, Select Ensemble will be featured in the awards no matter what! This exciting opportunity for passionate and dedicated high school students is as active as ever. Rehearsals may look a little bit different, but there will still be several opportunities for this +25-student, audition-only ensemble to perform in a multitude of safe settings.

Learn everything you need to know to make your Select Ensemble audition your best yet, including some tips and tricks — the deadline to submit your pre-recorded videos or have a Zoom audition is Monday, October 12! Check out your audition materials and get working. We can’t wait to get started!

And what will the ceremony look like?

We may not know exactly what the 2020-21 ceremony will look like, but we do know it’ll be just as creative as ever. It my be live… it may be virtual… but either way we know it’ll be a good time!

If you’re feeling sentimental, re-live the magic of last year’s ceremony and look out for some blasts from the past on @hellerawardsatx.

Every year the Long Center brings together over thirty schools from our community to shine the spotlight on the hard work of thousands of students and teachers involved in arts education at the Heller Awards for Young Artists. We’re pleased to say this year will be no different!

Don’t worry… your summer may have been different but Austin Shakespeare is here to make sure you get your regular dose of The Bard! This month, the classical theater group’s teen company — Young Shakespeare, that is — brings you ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona,’ streamed from Zilker Hillside Theatre to your screens Wednesday, October 7 at 7:00pm. And you can get your ticket right now!

Austin Shakespeare’s tuition-based intensive summer program for students aged 12 to 19 typically produces an imaginative performance in The Curtain Theatre, Austin’s own Elizabethan replica theater space (yes, it really exists!), host to several historical community theatre groups. Since theatre is looking a little bit different right now, Young Shakespeare has partnered up with familiar friend Zilker Hillside Theatre and presents ‘2 Gents’ in coordination with the City of Austin’s Artist Access Program.

After masked and socially-distant rehearsals, Young Shakespeare has filmed the production in Zilker without an audience. But setting this Shakespearean tale in the psychedelic ’60s & ’70s isn’t the only surprise — the production promises several more. “Young Shakespeare is always an exciting adventure,” says Director Ann Ciccolella. “This year is no different.”

socially distant rehearsal

Inspired by music from Galt MacDermot, who wrote the rock musical HAIR, the production is a blast from the past with costume design inspired by the 1970s from Cecelia Gay. ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ features many of Shakespeare’s comedic staples, including a woman in male disguise, a best-friend rivalry over the same love interest, plus a servant and his comic dog.

How can I watch?

Glad you asked! Tickets are available now. You’ll receive a special link for the stream via email, taking place October 7 at 7pm on YouTube.

Who’s in the cast?

Trained by theatre professionals alongside Artistic Director Ann Ciccolella and Associate Director Gwendolyn Kelso, Young Shakespeare’s actors hail from across the Greater Austin area and beyond.

CAST LIST
Ben Frey, Proteus, an amorous gentleman
Gabriel Cruz, Valentine, the other amorous gentleman
Campbell Collins, Julia
Elanor Walter, the captivating Sylvia
Richard White, the humorous Eglamour
Madelyn Reed, Antonio
Mercy Olguin, the Duchess
Sarah Wells, Launce, the clown
Jackson Childs, the bumbling Speed
Athena Eugene, Panthino
Vittoria Magi, the witty Host

But how has the young cast dealt with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Ah… that is… the recent pandemic-driven changes in process and format?

“In addition to being incredibly talented, this cast has been flexible and supportive through what has been one of the most disrupted seasons ever,” said original co-director Nancy Eyermann. “This talented group has not missed a beat. They are as energized, engaging, and fun to watch on screen as they are live on stage.”

I want to know more about Austin Shakespeare

You’ll love exploring imaginative worlds with this company, which features surprising and entertaining heightened-language productions at the our Rollins Studio Theatre as a Long Center Resident Company, as well as Shakespeare in Zilker Park.

The only professional classical theater company in Central Texas, this group stages performances that are fresh, bold, imaginative, thought-provoking and eminently accessible — connecting truths of the past with the challenges and possibilities of today.

In 2018, Austin Shakespeare was honored with a grant from the prestigious Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Arts Innovation and Management (AIM) program. And during the Covid shutdown, the group has also pivoted to offer virtual performances as well as creative development programs.

Austin Shakespeare is a participating partner of the Artist Access Program, part of the City of Austin’s Division of Museums and Cultural Programs through the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Visit austintexas.gove/artistaccess for more info.

This week’s Mid-Week Intermission comes from Long Center partner and friend David Spencer, Hancock Center H-E-B’s Center Store Leader. With H-E-B’s excellent history in community work, we wanted to hear from David about their partnership with United Way and how his life looks a little different now. Stick with us for some playlist recos, too!

Hi there! I’m David Spencer, Center Store Leader at the Hancock Center H-E-B. Most days, you’ll find me on the sales floor talking with customers and doing whatever it takes to make their H-E-B experience a great one! In addition to my store assignment, I’ve also been involved with H-E-B’s United Way Campaign for the last ten years.

group with butter half mural | Long Center
H-E-B United Way team in front of the United Way Butter Half mural

Over the years, I’ve served as an In-Store Coordinator at multiple stores and had the opportunity to be the Loaned Executive to United Way back in 2014. This is a program where H-E-B places one of its Partners (employees) at the United Way office for 3 to 4 months and we assist the United Way staff with their capital campaign while H-E-B pays our salary. It was the most fulfilling thing I’ve had the opportunity to do in my H-E-B career and I’m thankful to work for a company that is so committed to its community.

For the last 5 years I’ve helped coordinate H-E-B’s Central Texas Campaign which includes all H-E-B Partners in our region. I’ve worked with several great H-E-B Partners on the campaign, but my friend Angela Adams has been there with me during every campaign and I can’t imagine doing it without her. Last year our Central Texas H-E-B Partners donated almost 1.5 million dollars to United Way, which makes it the largest employee giving campaign in Central Texas

Our Partners are incredibly caring and generous and those dollars come from Partners who are your cashiers, baggers, meat cutters, and every other Partner you see while shopping in our stores. Normally, we have unique and special in-person United Way Meetings where Partners share stories about how United Way has helped them or their family or friends during a rough time in their lives. This year, because of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, our campaign is digital/online for the first time and we’re in the middle of it right now.

HEB and United Way | Long Center
David Spencer & United Way for Greater Austin CEO David Smith at last year’s Feast of Sharing

My New Normal

Unlike most Austinites, my work environment hasn’t shifted to home as our stores have been open for business during the pandemic. But my life outside of work has certainly changed. Normally, I love doing happy hour with friends and visiting breweries such as St. ElmoLive Oak, and Austin Beerworks. I love live music and regularly attend concerts and shows in Austin or at cool venues across the country. That’s obviously on hold. My last concert in Austin was Amanda Shires at Antone’s on February 28th — I miss live music so much!

To compensate, I do my own happy hour on my deck overlooking Barton Creek. My favorite happy hour foods are, of course, from H-E-B! I absolutely love our in-store made tortilla chips paired with our in-store made guacamole. A new addition is queso from Fresa’s, which we sell at our stores to help our local restaurants and pass along all of the proceeds back to them. It’s the best queso I’ve ever had!

chips and HEB guacamole | Long Center
Chips, H-E-B guac, and Fresa’s queso on the deck for happy hour

The Best Things I’ve Heard This Week

I now get my music fix by listening to my headphones instead of seeing my favorite artists live. The best things I’ve heard this week are:

“REUNIONS”
This is the new album by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

“OHIO”
By Over the Rhine, this album was released 17 years ago on August 19th and is one of my favorite albums of all time. If you want to know how it feels in your soul to grow up and live in the Midwest, listen to this. It’s hauntingly beautiful.

“REMIND ME TOMORROW”
The latest by Sharron Van Etten. This album came out in 2019 and has been stuck in my head ever since I saw her at an Austin City Limits Taping last September.

“THE DEEPEST END, LIVE IN CONCERT”
By Gov’t Mule, this was recorded in New Orleans in 203 as a tribute to the band’s late bassist Alan Woody who died in 2000.

KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST
Every day we get closer to hanging out again! Sign up for our email updates, and we’ll make sure you’re getting the stories, alerts, and community updates you’ve been looking for.

It’s no secret that the way Austin creates art has changed drastically in the last six months. So naturally, at the Long Center, we’ve been fascinated by the ways creativity is booming and blooming (plus, how we can help). Our next Long Center Create Virtual Event with Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre is a perfect example of this, and it’s streaming for free, live on LC’s Facebook September 12th at 8pm! Don’t be shy — AADT’s dancers will be live on chat talking about the experience, as well as composer Graham Reynolds.

REIMAGINE, the contemporary dance work from the dance company of choreographer Andrea Ariel (AADT), was not only supposed to premiere in our Rollins Studio Theatre live last May, but was also a celebration of AADT’s 30th Anniversary. With rehearsals being suspended and performances postponed, Andrea realized she would have to reimagine REIMAGINE for the virtual stage, instead.

So how do you create a virtual contemporary dance piece?

With creativity and ingenuity, of course! It also helps if you have great music to dance to. REIMAGINE was to be an evening of dance and live music that reinvented and weaved AADT’s past repertoire with new choreography all set to scores by composer and bandleader Graham Reynolds. As a long-time collaborator of Andrea Ariel, reuniting for AADT’s 30th Anniversary was a no-brainer.

“Over all these years we were both developing our work, and there are many threads of Graham’s compositions that are part of my work during that time,” Andrea says. “I thought it would be interesting to reimagine older works and create new ones to a selection of scores that resonated with these connections.”

Though Graham won’t be performing live with Alexis Buffum on violin and Nora Karakousoglou on cello as originally planned, you’ll still get that punchy, quirky Reynolds experience paired with Andrea’s signature choreo.

Over three months during shelter-in-place, the company rehearsed virtually to re-create selected pieces from REIMAGINE in the dancers’ private homes and environments where they then filmed the work. While some of the dances aligned well for a virtual re-creation, others not so much.

REIMAGINE: 30 YEARS | REIMAGINED brings four re-creations together with a look at a few past repertoire pieces through archival excerpts and the company’s pre-COVID rehearsal footage (because who can resist some behind-the-scenes content?). The 45-minute premiere, edited by Colin Lowry, aims to also virtually re-create that live show experience, moving seamlessly from one piece to the next.

What does virtual contemporary dance look like?

“HOME”
This piece explores the isolation we’ve all been feeling lately. Live, this section would have limited dancers to an individual 8ft. x 8ft. space, growing and overlapping as the pieces progressed. The uncanny relevance of this piece in our current situation lent it well to re-creating the first section in a room in the dancers’ homes.

“CROSSINGS”
This one moves from isolation to patterns the comings and goings of daily life, exploring random crossings that lead to interactions and connections with each other. On the shelter-in-place stage, the choreography had dancers create their own “vectors” — paths that are connected with each other through clever editing. “Crossings,” “Home,”and a fourth re-creation “Stripping Away” use music from Graham Reynolds originally composed for AADT’s “Geometry of Proximity” (2012).

“GETTING DRESSED”
This is a fun, short, delight set to Grahams “The Pencil Song.”

Other works included in the virtual program are Andrea’s signature solo from 1990, “Broken Head,” and “Life’s a Circus” (1996). These pieces bring together archival excerpts and pre-COVID rehearsal footage for a look inside the re-staging process to new scores by Reynolds.

How can I tune in?

Head to our Long Center Facebook page on Saturday night, September 12 — no Facebook account needed. The show’ll start at 8:00pm CT, but we’ll give you a few minutes to get situated before it starts.

Come with your questions! AADT’s dancers plus composer Graham Reynolds will be live in the chat window to talk with you about the pieces as well as what it’s been like filming from home, getting extra creative with space, and reimagining contemporary dance for the here and now.

See you Saturday night — enjoy this Post-It Experiment #3 from the AADT team while you wait!

This virtual event is free to view. Donations to AADT are welcome on their website, with 20% of all donations received by Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre from the premiere going to Austin Justice Coalition & Black Arts Matters.

REIMAGINE: 30 YEARS | REIMAGINED was created in collaboration with dancers Whitney O’Baugh, Luis Ordaz Gutiérrez, Ceci Proeger, Rebecca McLindon Blanchard, Kevin Armstrong, Sandie Donzica and video editor Colin Lowry.

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!

Yep, it’s the Long Center — that futuristic-looking building on the riverbank that always has something going on. We know it’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen each other, and though we’ve let our hair grow out and gotten new glasses while we’ve been apart, we know there’s still a connection here.

After all, you’ve definitely brought your kids to our front lawn for an all-day, bubble-bursting, live-music experience, or staged your own outdoor disco long after the rest of the city’s gone to bed.

You definitely know that big open space with the columns because that’s where you go to roller skate with your roommates instead of studying. Or, perhaps our window wall and multi-colored tiles are currently in the background of a framed photo or two, or even making a guest appearance on your feed.

You’re probably familiar with sitting alongside thousands of fellow Austinites, blanket in tow, looking up to spot your first firework on the Fourth. You even came back the next day for a picnic to make the holiday weekend last a little longer.

You know the excitement of getting that yearly, larger-than-life candy cane photo op because ’tis the season. You’ve even lent us your free time to help countless newcomers find their perfect seat (Center Mezz gets our vote), or put in a full day and night of back-breaking work to make sure the show goes on as planned.

You’ve stood in line for hours to get your book signed by your fave photographer who never goes on tour, or to exchange a few words and a joke with a cult movie star. This is also where you probably got a glimpse of President Obama, or you were super pleased to see your number-one skyline view cameo on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

This is also where your best friends surprised you with an outdoor movie for your 30th birthday, or had a first date that didn’t go as bad as you thought it might. It’s probably where you had your first taste of trailer food while waving to find your friend in the crowd before the headlining band started.

Some of you will never forget seeing Elvis twirl and jive live in concert back when we were the Palmer Auditorium, or how great it felt to walk across the stage at your high school graduation. Now, you can’t believe your ears as the sold-out crowd goes wild as your aspiring young artist takes the stage for the first — but certainly not the last — time.

You created us, Austin, and we can’t wait to give back. ????

 

crowd gathered in front of Palmer Auditorium | Long Center
circa 1998 from the Long Center archives

We’ve been going through our photo archives lately and thought you might wanna see, too! So we asked our good friend and go-to freelance photographer Suzanne Cordeiro to pick out some of her favorites from over the years. Enjoy!

high school students air jump | Long Center
2017 Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards (GAHSMTA) at the Long Center Austin

 

GAHSMTA (NOW THE HELLER AWARDS FOR YOUNG ARTISTS!)

I have been privileged to photograph every single Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards show and what I absolutely love about this event is the energy. Each year, students dress to the nines to come and experience exciting musical performances from each of the Austin area high schools while cheering ecstatically for their own. The energy is pure magic! Most of the students love posing for the camera, resulting in some amazingly energetic and fun images.

boy with giant bubble | Long Center
2018 Bubblepalooza! Saturday, July 16 on the H-E-B Terrace, as part of All Summer Long at the Long Center

 

BUBBLEPALOOZA

Everyone, young and the old, loves bubbles! It’s no wonder that Bubblepalooza is always a joy to shoot. This annual free celebration attracts families of all ages and the folks at the Long Center go above and beyond to provide some amazing family-centric activities, games, music, and yummy food trucks. For a photographer, Bubblepalooza is a dream because everyone is so happy and full of smiles. The front lawn spills over with happy families. What a great way to stay cool on a hot summer day!

Annie Leibovitz | Long Center
For American-Statesman, An Evening with Annie Leibovitz at the Long Center for the Performing Arts on November 13, 2017 in Austin, Texas.

 

ANNIE LEIBOVITZ

Having the opportunity to hear renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz speak about her craft was an absolute thrill. The work of this living legend spans well over 40 years and it was more than a little surreal for me to photograph someone I consider to be one of the best photographers in the world. Coming home with a beautifully autographed book that now sits on my living room coffee table was an added bonus.

Santa on the Terrace | Long Center
Santa on the Terrace 2017

 

SANTA ON THE TERRACE

With the magnificent Austin skyline as its backdrop, there is no better place to document your family’s holiday memories than during the Long Center’s “Santa on the Terrace” event. I remember my own kids being absolutely terrified by the idea of sitting on Santa’s knee, so I can’t help but smile when I see other children start screaming the second it’s their turn. Knowing the effort that goes in to getting these little ones all dressed up only to have them totally meltdown is pretty hysterical. Although they won’t walk away with the ideal photo that they envisioned, the shot they do receive will become a joyful and cherished memory.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Meet & Greet | Long Center
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson Meet & Greet at the Long Center, 2019

 

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON

Neil deGrasse Tyson makes regular appearances at the Long Center and I always look forward to photographing his Meet & Greet sessions. I’ve shot many of these types of events but what makes his special is the time and care he puts into each brief meeting. He listens to stories, interacts with everyone, and ensures that each photo is special and fun. It is especially cute to watch him kneel down to connect with his younger audience at their eye level.

mascot with man and puppy | Long Center
Texas Tailgate: Texas Football Watch Party at the Long Center for the Performing Arts on November 15, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

 

TEXAS TAILGATE

Football and dogs — what more can a photographer ask for! With Nulo Pet Foods sponsoring this Texas Football official watch party, families were encouraged to bring their furry friends. It was a blast seeing the Long Center lawn overflowing with puppies! Texas Cheer and Longhorn mascot “Hook ‘Em” engaged with the revelers and posed for selfies. The Austin skyline served as a backdrop for the huge outdoor screen and an abundance of food trucks was available for snacks and drinks. What a fantastic way to watch a game!

break dancing at Fit Kids Fest | Long Center
Breakdancing showcase and class with Blitz Freestyle at Fit Kids Fest, 2017

 

FIT KIDS FEST

Filled with fun activities promoting active children and healthy eating, capturing images of the Long Center’s Fit Kids Fest was an absolute blast! The Long Center puts on a number of these free events geared towards families and the staff go out of their way to provide fun and entertainment for people of all ages. What I enjoyed the most at this particular event was watching the staff participate and encourage families to join in on the various activities. So much fun!

Long Center 10th Anniversary
The Long Center presents The Avett Brothers plus Asleep at the Wheel on March 3, 2018 in Austin, Texas.

 

LONG CENTER 10TH ANNIVERSARY w/ THE AVETT BROTHERS & ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

It was such an honor to celebrate the Long Center’s first decade with exciting performances by The Avett Brothers and Texas swing legend Asleep at the Wheel. Although I’m not part of the official staff, I’ve been honored to have been a part of many of the Long Center’s events, celebrations, and milestones. Celebrating and capturing images of their 10th Anniversary was a joy and this event was pure class. I am so proud of the work that they do.

Suzanne Cordeiro | Long Center

Suzanne Cordeiro is an Austin-based freelance editorial and commercial photographer with over 10 years of industry experience. Suzanne’s service-oriented and creative approach has made her a favorite photographer for events across Austin and beyond, as well as a contributor to international news & media publications. Check her out on social media @suzannecordeiro, or visit her site to book her to cover your next event!

This week’s Mid-Week Intermission features our friend Stephen Mills, Artistic Director and Choreographer for Ballet Austin. Read on to see how BA’s dancers are staying connected and how Stephen’s been spending time outside of the studio.

Hi, I’m Stephen Mills.

I am the artistic leader of Ballet Austin, one of the three Founding Resident Companies of the Long Center. To say this is an unusual time would be an understatement. So many people are suffering as a result of the pandemic and job loss. The country is also having a rich and consequential conversation about racial justice and equality. I am concerned and interested in all these issues but with a particular focus on the ways they affect artists of all mediums and the people behind the scenes you do not see who make it possible.

☝️ This is Stephen

So far, we at Ballet Austin have missed two of our performance series since March 2020 and have cancelled our September performances as well. Dance is an intimate and collaborative experience that requires people be together. As a company of dancers, we deeply miss sharing class every morning and spending the day creating and preparing work to share with the community. We miss taking the work to the Long Center and collaborating with our talented and devoted crew to further develop the seamless performances you see. Finally, we miss the communication we as artists have with the audience, because that is the dialogue that closes the loop, thus allowing us to start again.

We also miss the sound of children in our building as they excitedly prepare to engage in the art of ballet through the Ballet Austin Academy. We miss the opportunity to take our art into the schools of Austin and beyond.

Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills and Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin with the individuals from Austin’s Black Women in Business organization.

SERVING
We at Ballet Austin have been volunteering to help with food drives organized by the Austin branch of Black Women in Business. The organization’s founder/CEO, Rose Smith and her colleague, Briana Murphy, are doing wonderful work in the community and have allowed us to participate. Before the pandemic food insecurity was a large problem in Austin and has been exponentially magnified over the past six months.

Cover art for “CASTE”

READING
Personally, the shutdown has allowed me time to focus on reflection and learning. Presently, I am reading Isabel Wilkerson’s devastating book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. It is an amazing and clear perspective on racism in America.

Film art for “When They See Us” (Netflix)

WATCHING
I have watched everything there is to watch on Netflix and Hulu. Some of my favorites have included comedies such as InsecureRamy, and the reality show Indian Matchmaking. I have also been moved by Ava Duvernay’s haunting film When They See Us.

Socially distanced in the studio

LEARNING
Having time away from my studio has allowed me extra time to wrestle with my continuous battle with the French language. I think I finally have the upper hand.

That being said, I anxiously look forward to being back in the studio with dancers, laughing, talking, debating, and focusing on the subject of art. And I would remind everyone to WEAR YOUR MASK!!!!!! It’s the simplest thing we can do to help.

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