30th Anniversary Rising Stars Showcase
Honors New World School of the Arts Alumni and Partners
The evening of Rising Stars was indeed a glorious occasion for New World School of the Arts, as it honored the educational partners who have contributed to the school’s success during the past three decades, and celebrated alumni and students whose talent and resolve has been integral in establishing NWSA as the premier arts conservatory in South Florida.
The showcase began with the Rising Stars Exhibition, drawing about 400 guests to the New World Gallery. Supporters and friends eager to explore and enjoy the carefully juried and curated show had the opportunity to engage with the young artists as they inspected each piece and learned about the students’ vision for their work. With more than two-dozen artworks ranging from video installations to paintings, performance and sculpture, the cutting-edge exhibition centered on utilizing multiple media to develop the artists’ vision in a cohesive yet unpredictable manner. Maggy Cuesta, dean of visual arts at NWSA highlighted David Correa’s performance piece Construction Suit #5, in which the artist strapped himself to the medium becoming himself the brush, while fluidly creating figures on the canvas floor. The performance of Carolina Larrosa was also a highlight of the evening. Carolina created chalk markings on the floor representing the markings of life while parading through the space on stilt-like shoes. Another favorite was Found Trash. For this massive artwork, Mateo Zerna Zapata used numerous found objects to transform the space into a single majestic work of art using black wrap. In attendance was Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, President of Miami Dade College and Dr. W. Kent Fuchs, President of the University of Florida – both educational partner institutions of NWSA. The distinguished Presidents enthusiastically took time to examine the work of each student while engaging in animated conversations with guests, alumni, faculty members, and exhibiting artists. NWSA Board members, arts enthusiasts and community leaders were also among the guests who enjoyed the exhibition.
The 30th Anniversary Rising Stars performance showcase, dedicated to the late Betsy Kaplan, lovingly known as the “mother of public arts education” and a fervent supporter of New World School of the Arts, continued as the sun set over the historic Olympia Theater. As the curtain rose for the Opening, it was evident that the evening would be a celebration of the school’s 30th Anniversary.
A series of historic photographs projected onto a majestic backdrop took the audience on a nostalgic journey through NWSA’s humble beginnings, as a group of music theater students joined by dancers and musicians set the mood for a festive and riveting evening of dance, music and theater. Drawing on this historic mood, NWSA Provost Dr. Jeffrey Hodgson along with NWSA High School Principal Evonne Alvarez, expressed their appreciation to NWSA’s three institutional partners by recognizing Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho; Miami Dade College President, Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón; and University of Florida President, Dr. W. Kent Fuchs on stage. The three dignitaries were presented with a special gift while they each warmly offered inspiring words, anniversary wishes, and a brilliant future to New World School of the Arts, for many years to come. Likewise, New World School of the Arts recognized Bank of America for its steadfast commitment to arts education and unwavering support of NWSA. Maria Alonso, Miami Market Manager at Bank of America, and former Chair / current member of the NWSA Executive Board, was welcomed onstage to publicly accept the honors.
In celebration of its 30th Anniversary, New World School of the Arts awarded the coveted Rising Stars Alumni Award, presented each year to one alumnus to recognize their contributions to the arts world, to four NWSA alumni – one per arts division. Presented by their respective dean, alumni Gaby Diaz (Dance), Mauricio Cespedes (Music), Randall Emmett (Theater) and Adler Guerrier (Visual Arts) were each presented with a gift crafted by a current visual arts student and lauded for their accomplishments.
The evening continued with a remarkable program directed by NWSA dean of theater, Patrice Bailey. An excerpt from Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s exuberant work, Nube Blanco, set to the music of Maria Dolores Pradera’s voice brought the flavor of Spain to the Olympia through a powerful and surprising twist on Flamenco. Robert Battle’s work, Promenade enthralled the audience with the high-energy wittiness of its eight dancers, while Promethean Fire, hailed as one of the best dance works choreographed by Paul Taylor, brought forth sixteen glamorous dancers in leather and black, to explore the intricacies of beauty juxtaposed to the powerful elements of destruction.
Led by maestro Alfred Gershfeld, the orchestra pit came alive with the fast-paced and ever-popular Overture from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, performed by the NWSA Symphony Orchestra, closing the first act with an impressive standing ovation while, later in the program, Brent Mounger took the baton to direct the NWSA Wind Ensemble in David Maslanka’s joyful Symphony No. 2 Allegro Molto. The second act energized the performance hall as New World School of the Arts’ award-winning Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jim Gasior presented a most effervescent session of jazz. Accompanied by the melodious silky voice of jazz sensation and NWSA alumna, Jennifer Sanon, the ensemble masterfully offered its interpretation of Duke Ellington’s popular Jump for Joy, followed by the rousing And The Angels Sing, by Ziggy Elman and Johnny Mercer.
The theater division showed off remarkable talent with numerous renditions of popular musicals. A revival of the age and rage of Rock’n Roll became palpable as heartthrob Conrad Birdie took the theater by storm in the popular teenage musical Bye Bye Birdie, rendering a stage-full of giggling teenagers who craved for his undivided attention. Sprinkled with a short scene from the musical Lovesick or Things That Don’t Happen and a more serious passage from Fences, the high school theater students managed to capture the audience’s heart and soul with their impassioned performances. Meanwhile, the college theater students offered a darker side of acting as they presented scenes from other potent plays and musicals. With the ominous Devil scene from Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day, the audience became spectators in a pre-WWII Berlin flat, where protagonist Husz conjured the Devil himself for an almost comical yet thought-provoking dialogue that resonates with today’s political climate. With beautiful period costumes and spectacular backdrops, the college music theater ensemble transported the audience to the streets of London in Jekyll & Hyde, as they melodically chanted, “There’s a face that we wear in the cold light of day, It’s society’s mask, It’s society’s way,” to emphasize the reality of society’s good vs. evil personality dichotomy in the song Facade.
This Is the Moment, the second excerpt from the musical Jekyll and Hyde, culminated the evening with a message of hope and resolve as the ensemble joyfully sang – “This is the moment, the sweetest moment of them all!”, while simultaneously virtually being joined on stage by their peers from another time. This final number was the pivotal moment and climax of Rising Stars 30th Anniversary celebration as forty alumni, representing each of the four arts divisions and from most graduating classes, were recognized through giant projections to highlight their impressive contributions to the arts world.
The 2017 Rising Stars culminated with a grand VIP 30th Anniversary Celebration at New World School of the Arts where VIP ticket holders including art enthusiasts, supporters, friends and family were welcomed to join New World School of the Arts in a champagne toast for many more years of academic and artistic success, followed by a VIP reception complete with a performance by recognized NWSA Jazz Ensemble alumni, and finally – with a dessert and coffee bar under the stars.