Great cities offer a wide variety of art – from modern dance to classical theater, opera to puppetry. The more arts experiences available in a region, the more people participate, and the greater the benefits for everyone who lives there. Generating all of that art requires lots of resources. A thriving arts scene needs artists – especially artists who are committed to living in the communities where they work.
For eighteen years, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has built the region’s artistic community by producing Shakespeare and the classics with a resident ensemble of actors. Recruited from all across the country, the professional actors who join the ensemble sign on for an entire season of work, performing in five to ten shows in a single year. Audiences get to know the performers and enjoy seeing them play a wide variety of roles – the actor playing the romantic lead in Romeo & Juliet may be the funny butler in next month’s The Importance of Being Earnest, or the mysterious villain in Dangerous Liaisons. Actors often stay for two to four years with the company and some have been with the organization for over a decade. Working together for long periods, the actors develop a greater camaraderie, understanding of each other’s strengths, and level of trust - like a great baseball team.
When not onstage at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, resident ensemble members are often seen on other local stages including Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, among others. Producing Artistic Director Brian Phillips coordinates with these theatres to share everything from scene shop equipment to lighting designers. “The collaborative spirit of the Cincinnati theatre community allows audiences to see a wide variety of plays, playwrights, musicals, and experimental performances,” says Brian, “By working together and sharing resources, we produce more theatre more efficiently, so that more people can enjoy it.”
“Ensemble Theatre is proud that Brian Phillips came to Cincinnati to be an intern with our company and he has stayed to help sustain and grow the Shakespeare Company,” says D. Lynn Meyers, Producing Artistic Director of Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. “ETC was founded on the principle of giving local professionals a wonderful place to live and work and Brian has embraced that with his hiring of a resident company.”
The growing pool of professional actors in the community benefits other arts organizations as well. Over the past ten years, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company actors have performed with Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company actors also serve as teaching artists in schools throughout the region, record commercials and voice-overs for local businesses, and create podcasts, blogs, and viral videos enjoyed by people all over the country. By providing a home base for these artists, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company provides a critical fuel for the region’s creative engine – skilled artists with a passion for their community.
CSC Artistic Associate Jeremy Dubin has been performing with the company for over twelve years, but he still gets the same question: Why are you here? Why don’t you live in New York or L.A.?
Jeremy responds, “New York and L.A. both have actors in abundance. The result is that actors there (with the exception of a very small percentage) become anonymous cogs in a vast machine that views them as expendable. Here in Cincinnati, I have a voice and a role to play within the arts community and the community at large. I have been able to develop personal relationships and an ongoing artistic conversation with our patrons. I am able to feel that what I do is a benefit to the community, and the community, in turn, has provided me with an opportunity to keep doing what I love.”
The LAST Macy's Arts Sampler day of 2012 is almost upon us!
The first two Arts Sampler days have been great -thousands of people from around the region met up to experience free art right in their backyard. Saturday, March 10 promises to be loads of fun. Snag a schedule or download the Sampler Mobile App for free on your smart phone.
Downtown Cincinnati - Hands-On Arts and Performances for Families
Families can easily spend the entire day Downtown exploring the arts. Get inspired at the Taft Museum of Art with a day celebrating great African American artists in our community. The line-up includes a one-man show about Martin Luther King, jr., “Martin’s Dream” by Deondra Means; gospel and soul music by the incredible Fo Mo Brothers; see the current exhibit of prints by Romare Bearden and try your hand at making a collage; then end the day with music by Tracy Walker, one of the Taft Robert S. Duncanson Artists in Residence for 2012.
On the top floor of the Contemporary Arts Center, The UnMuseum will have family art and craft activities starting at 1 p.m. The Main Library on Vine Street will host silhouette artist Pattie Purnell and the Blue Chip Jazz Band at Noon.
Families with younger children will appreciate the combination of crafts and interactive theatre at Learning Through Art’s Books Alive! program starting at 11 a.m, and the Ballet Theatre Midwest and My Nose Turns Red Youth Circus performances at Emanuel Community Center at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Museums, Murals, and Music for Adults
Head over to the Contemporary Arts Center and check out their new exhibit, Spectacle: The Music Video, an incredible exploration of the art and history of music videos. At 3:00 p.m., take a guided tour that shows you how to look at things in a whole new way with the UnProfessional Development workshop.
ArtWorks is offering two one-hour guided bus tours to visit some of its incredible Downtown murals, at 11 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. Appropriate for all ages. You can also take a Highlights of the Taft guided tour at the Taft Museum at 1:30 p.m.
Catch some great singer/songwriters including acoustic folk/roots/blues musician John Ford and guitarist Dave Hawkins and fiddler Peg Buchanan at the CAC starting at 12:30; and Tracy Walker at the Taft Museum at 3:30 p.m.
For Families on the Move
Do your kids need to get their wiggles out? Try a taste of West African drumming and dancing at the Carl Lindner YMCA with the African-American Drum and Dance Ensemble at 12:30 p.m.—a great opportunity to get the whole family up on their feet and moving to the beat.
Then, head for the Cincinnati Ballet for a whole afternoon of moving and grooving from ballet to belly-dancing and Chinese martial to Bollywood-style Indian dance. Starting at Noon, the line-up includes Cincinnati Ballet, the CCM Preparatory Dance Department, Anaya Gypsy Dance, Blue Ash Shaolin Do, and Experience India.
If your family includes grandparents, take everyone to The Grove at Springfield Township. They’ve got a full afternoon of great American music ranging from barbershop with the Southern Gateway Chorus to roots band Wild Carrot to country-western swing with Laura Hazelbaker & the BuckeyeRoos, plus a chance to learn the lindy-hop with the Living History Dance School.
Clifton Cultural Arts Center has American and Celtic music starting at Noon with Raison d’Etre, Clark and Jones, and the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums.
Middletown Arts Center hosts the Madcap Puppets’ production of “Jack and the Gentle Giant” at 12:30 p.m. Children are invited to stay afterwards for a puppet-making workshop with the performers.
This Saturday’s Macy's Arts Sampler offers everyone the chance to discover international cultures through art, and enjoy some hands-on experiences in highlighted neighborhoods.
Take a Trip Around the World- No Passports Required
Stop in at the new NrityArpana School of Indian Dance in Mason and learn the steps to a classic Indian folk dance, a few yoga poses, and see Mehendi henna painting. Then, discover Haitian music and mask-making at the Kennedy Heights Cultural Arts Center. You can also spend the afternoon at the Sharonville Fine Arts Center and experience African drumming with Bi-Okoto, Chinese dance with Bing Yang Chinese Performing Arts Center, and the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company.
Galleries and Hands-On Activities in Northside
Northside continues to grow as an arts district and could be the place you spend the whole afternoon. On Saturday, you can take in the exhibits at Prairie Gallery, Thundersky, and Visionaries and Voices. Families of all shapes and sizes can join artists from Visionaries and Voices to create their own ceramic tile representing their family starting at 11:00 am. For those with active kids, Dramakinetics offers four fun workshops where kids can move, dance, play and sing.
Spotlight on Northern Kentucky
Activities ranging from historic dance and ragtime bands to origami game shows and circus acts will be happening all over Northern Kentucky. Peraza Suzuki Group and Jonathan Heart’s Origami Game Show will be at Baker-Hunt Art and Cultural Center. Forget-Me-Not Historic Dance company and Melodic connections perform at the Campbell County Public Library in Cold Spring. At the Newport library branch, see Jonathan Heart, storyteller Omope Daboiku, and the NKU Youth Chorale. The KSO’s Newport Ragtime Band performs at 2 p.m. at the Erlanger public library. And Circus Mojo presents two show-stopping demonstrations of circus acts at 11:30 am and 1:00 pm.
Great Performances and Activities for Kids of All Ages
UC-Clermont hosts two great theatre performances on Saturday. First, for younger children, ArtReach: a division of The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati, presents their delightful production of The Ugly Duckling at 10:00 am. Stick around afterwards for face-painting, beading, an art treasure hunt, and more. Then, at 1:00 p.m., older kids and adults can enjoy highlights from Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s hilarious A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On the east side of town, the Women’s Cultural Club in Mariemont hosts an open house at The Barn, featuring an exhibit of children’s artwork.
Best Bets for Young Children: The Ugly Duckling at UC-Clermont, 10 AM. Dramakinetics in Northside.
Best Bets for Grade-Schoolers: Anything this weekend! Pick a neighborhood spot near you: Northside, Northern Kentucky, Sharonville, Batavia (UC-Clermont), and spend the whole afternoon.
Best Bets for Teens and Adults: Gallery hopping in Northside, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at UC-Clermont, KSO’s Newport Ragtime Band.
We are unbelievably excited that the first of three Macy's Arts Sampler days are almost here! Starting THIS Saturday, the Cincinnati region will come alive with free arts events all over the city for everyone to come enjoy. We've been hosting Sampler Weekends for 26 years now, and have been working hard to make new improvements to help you get the most out of these unique experiences.
Our newest addition to Sampler this year is our Macy's Arts Sampler App! In addition to a complete listing of Macy’s Arts Sampler events, the Sampler app includes show descriptions, a mapping function that provides directions to venues, and connections to Facebook and Twitter. Users can bookmark events to create a personalized schedule, and even make a donation to the ArtsWave community campaign directly from the app.
"Macy’s Arts Sampler is our signature event each year with over 100 free performances and activities all over the region" said Rebecca Bromels, ArtsWave’s Director of Communications. "We wanted to offer everyone the very latest technology to help them find favorite arts groups, events in their neighborhood, and the best activities to enjoy with family or friends.” Content will be updated in real time to keep audiences up-to-date on performances and any last-minute changes.
Most of all, we see the Macy’s Arts Sampler app as an opportunity to gauge the community’s interest in a year-round arts event calendar and app. “We know that there’s some desire for a collaborative arts calendar,” says Mary McCullough-Hudson, President and CEO of ArtsWave. “Public response to the Sampler app will provide us with important feedback on this idea and guide our next moves in this evolving medium.”
Now, on to THIS Saturday!
Know Theatre at the Cincinnati Symphony, Macy's Arts Sampler 2011
Downtown Itinerary for Families:
- Start the day at 10 am at Music Hall with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s family concert, The Big Bad Brass Bash! Highlighting the brass family of instruments, the concert includes the delightful story of Tubby the Tuba featuring Carson McTeer and narrated by Stacey Woolley. Check out the Highland Dancers in the lobby after the show.
- Head up the hill to Mt. Adams for events at Playhouse in the Park and Cincinnati Art Museum. Kids can enjoy two great shows: the Z Puppets Rosenschnaz presenting “In a Fool’s Kitchen” at Playhouse (10:30 and 1:00 pm) and Madcap Puppets’ “Jack and the Gentle Giant” at CAM (Noon and 2 pm). Playhouse also has backstage tours and creative dramatics class for kids.
- At the Art Museum, there’ll be international music from Kique Infante, Sakura Ladies Chorus and the Bacchanal Steel Drums. And, the BombShells of Cincinnati will be bombing the Great Hall at CAM with their latest creation: Operation Truly Newly (fiber) Chihuly. BombShells will be on hand to help guests create their own yarn creations to add to the huge fuzzy chandelier.
Places to Play All Day:
- Carnival of Arts at the West Chester Library starts at Noon featuring local musicians, theatre groups, and more.
- Wyoming Fine Arts Center features programming all day starting at 9 am—music, dance, make and take crafts, etc.
- Fitton Center for the Creative Arts also has a full day of programming starting at 10 am including make and take crafts.
Three back-to-back choral concerts by Cincinnati BoyChoir, Cincinnati Children’s Choir, and MUSE at St. John’s Unitarian Church in Clifton starting at 1:00 pm.
- Stroll around the Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood and visit Ballet Theatre Midwest, New Edgecliff Theatre, and the Irish Heritage Center starting at 11:00 am.
- If your wee one is not quite ready to sit still for the Symphony concert, you need to check out Linton Music’s Peanut Butter and Jam concerts at the Clovernook Center for the Blind at 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM. “Bim Bam Boom!” will feature percussion instruments which is sure to delight little drummer boys and girls.
- Also, Wyoming Fine Arts Center has Musik Kids activities for Babies from 9 to 9:30 am, and for toddlers from 9:30 to 10.
Great Picks for Adults and Teens:
- The Whipping Man, at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati at 2 p.m. Please note this production contains strong adult language and themes and may not be suitable for all ages. Limited seating available. Call 421-3555 to reserve tickets.
- Porgy & Bess: Opera Redux at Kennedy Heights Presbyterian Church at 7:00 pm. One hour version of the Gershwin classic staged by Cincinnati Opera. You can also catch this show at Noon at the Fairfield Arts Center.
- Mini-classes and performances at Contemporary Dance Theatre in College Hill starting at 11:30 AM.
- Playhouse’s Scene Shop tour leaves on the hour from 12:30 to 3:30 at 1430 Gilbert Avenue—a fascinating chance to see how sets are painted and constructed.
- New Edgecliff Theatre offers an open rehearsal of the upcoming one-man show, St. Nicholas, at the Columbia Performance Center at 1:00 pm. Audience members can make “suggestions” for the scene to the actor and director.
- The Betts House offers free admission to their exhibit “The Big Shake” at 1 pm.
Art brings people together to share experiences and ideas. Collaborations between different kinds of artists can create truly memorable moments of connection for audiences and artists alike. One such opportunity has been traveling the country and is making a stop in Cincinnati at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Soundsuit performers and crowd at Cincinnati Art Museum
Described by Fast Company as "one part Abominable Snowman and one part Mardi-Gras Indian", Chicago-born artist Nick Cave fuses fashion, sculpture, and body art in his amazing Soundsuits. These monumental mixed-media semi-human forms are named for the sounds they make when worn. Committed to sustainability, Cave constructs many of the suits from cast-off materials including hot pads, buttons, and scavenged old toys. Other suits are built using human hair and dyed in fantastic neon colors.
Nick Cave sees each Soundsuit as two separate works of art—a static sculpture when displayed in a gallery, and a kinetic one when worn on the human body. For the exhibit at Cincinnati Art Museum, Nick Cave: Meet Me At the Center of the Earth, over 40 Soundsuits are on display. 13 of the Soundsuits are available for performers to utilize to choreograph unique dances.
Emily Holtrop, Cincinnati Art Museum’s Director of Learning and Interpretation, knew immediately who she wanted to choreograph a dance for Cincinnati. She called Heather Britt, Regional Director for Rhythm & Motion at Cincinnati Ballet and lecturer in Theatre and Dance at NKU. An independent choreographer, Heather has created dances for a variety of local and national groups including Cincinnati Ballet, Uptown Arts, NKU, and the ArtsWave Splash Dance from 2010.
Heather says she took one look at the suits and thought “Wow. Those suits are amazing. I’m in.” She set about recruiting dancers from among her NKU students and fellow Rhythm & Motion teachers. It was a quick process—the Soundsuits arrived about a week before the first performance. Heather had a very short time to choreograph a dance with the Soundsuits.
In watching YouTube videos of other works that had been created for the Soundsuits, she noticed that most dances treated each person as an individual in the choreography. “The dancers didn’t touch or see each other. I wondered what would happen if these unidentifiable people met each other on the dance floor, and so I tried to create opportunities for the dancers to interact.”
They started with one whole day of “playtime”, allowing the dancers and Heather to discover what each person could do in their Soundsuit by moving at different speeds, jumping in the air, even rolling across the floor. That night Heather went home and created the dance. After a weekend of rehearsals, it was time for the Soundsuit Invasion at Cincinnati Art Museum. “I felt like no one could help having a blast whil exploring,the suits are so joyful in nature” says Heather. “We felt like kids!”
Cincinnati Art Museum Director of Marketing and Communications Regina Russo remarked that the late-January event brought together people of all ages and backgrounds, including many who had never attended an opening event at the museum before. Heather says her NKU students benefited from the experience. It made a strong impression on the Rhythm & Motion staff, and encouraged them to take time to return and explore the rest of the Art Museum on their own.
Heather Britt and Soundsuit performers
Emily Holtrop comments that one of the most fascinating things about the suits is the way they erase identity. “We had dancers of all ages and body types, some with classical ballet training to those with more hip hop-- But once you put a suit on, you change shape. Unless you knew which suit someone was wearing, you couldn’t recognize them.”
Heather notes that the Rhythm & Motion dance class is a great equalizer in the same way—“The class includes people of all ages. When you’re in your workout clothes, you don’t know if the person next to you is a doctor or a waitress. And no one cares. It becomes irrelevant.”
Nick Cave created his Soundsuits to bring people together, to encourage community and therefore understanding and change. By connecting his art, local dance students, and the broader community, Cincinnati Art Museum is inspiring people to see each other in a new way.
You can see the Soundsuits Invasion dance live at the Cincinnati Art Museum at Art After Dark on March 30th at 7 PM; on April 17th at Family First Saturday at 2:30 PM; and on Fountain Square in Downtown Cincinnati on April 20th at Noon.