Supporting Our Community
What Problem? Community Cast.
COVID made community outreach challenging during the 2021–22 Season.
Public schools canceled off-site field trips so we were unable to offer K–12 student matinees this year, and many artists were understandably hesitant to risk additional exposure beyond what touring already demanded.
Still, we found ways to bring people together, in person, online and on stage.
There Is No "I" in We
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s latest work, What Problem?, required participation by a “community cast” in every location where the evening-length piece was performed. In Seattle, that cast comprised 30 local residents of diverse ages, ethnicities, orientations and life experiences.
Over several days of intense rehearsals with members of the Company and with Bill himself, followed by three nights of performances, these 30 strangers became, in the words of one participant, “a great example of the power of intergenerational or co-generational dance, art and social justice and the power of connection.”
Over 60 people attended a community town hall co-presented and hosted by Langston and featuring Bill T. Jones in conversation with Deputy Director at the Office of Planning & Community Development Lauren Flemister, UW Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Ed Taylor and moderator Vivian Phillips. The topic, “Is There a We,” sparked deeply personal stories from panelists and audience about exclusion, gentrification, racism, resistance — and, for many, art as a thing that saved their lives.
“This was a life-changing experience for me. I will never forget it. I will never forget all the wonderful people I met, all the aha moments, the heart-expanding moments, the life-affirming moments. A thousand thank you’s!”
— What Problem? Community Cast Member
Movement post-show Q&A facilitated by Berette Macaulay.
At Meany, we are committed to presenting a greater diversity of voices across our classical music series, both the artists appearing on our stage and the composers whose work they perform. We launched our 2021–22 Season piano series with Conrad Tao playing works by contemporary composers Felipe Lara, Tania Leon, Ruth Seeger Crawford and his own composition, Keyed In (co-commissioned by Meany Center). Only one composer on the program that night — Ludwig van Beethoven — was born before the 20th century.
Simone Dinnerstein followed in January with a program dedicated to contemporary composers J.C. Phillips and Richard Danielpour, while in April, Jeremy Denk presented an eclectic mix of Beethoven and Schubert alongside Scott Joplin and Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins.
Jeremy, Conrad and Simone each spoke about their programs with Dr. Quinton Morris, host of Classical King FM’s Unmute the Voices, a program dedicated to introducing audiences
to compositions and performances by
classical musicians of color.
You can find these conversations and more on our website. meanycenter.org/engage/exploring-creative-process
The world premiere of Meklit Hadero’s Movement LIVE, was set for April 2020 at Meany Center. Co-commissioned by Meany, this combination live performance and podcast would focus on global migration and invite immigrant artists from every community where Meklit performed to join her on stage to share their own experiences. .
The pandemic hit pause on everything; but via the miracle of Zoom, Meklit and the three Seattle-area artists she chose to participate — Kiki Valera (Cuba), Momma Nikki (Haiti) and Dakota Comache (Guåhan) — spent the ensuing 18 months engaged in virtual residency work during which they honed their story-telling and podcasting skills.
With only eight days of in-person rehearsals, Movement LIVE finally premiered on our stage on May 7, 2022. The performance that night was meaningful to the many people in the audience who saw themselves represented, and there were smiles and tears of appreciation during and after the lively Q&A with the artists. The podcast is available on PRI’s The World.