The Arts

Fresh productions and new spaces for a New Year

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At the start of each year, it’s exciting to look down the road, see what each local theatre has in store, and mark your calendars accordingly. And it looks like 2017 has plenty of comedies, dramas, dances and concerts in store. Beyond the usual line-up, more importantly, we have a new venue to keep an eye on, too.

The exciting new space that promises to present newfangled productions this year, as well as give budding artists and professionals alike a venue for expression, is the Van Dyke Performance Space, a recent development in the Greensboro Cultural Center downtown.

The 7,500-square foot performance space, created in memory of the late renowned choreographer and Dance Project artistic director Jan Van Dyke, has moveable seating and staging, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment.

“Young artists and producers often leave Greensboro after graduation because they lack opportunities to present their work,” the late Van Dyke previously explained. “This facility will enable dancers and other artists to showcase their work cost-effectively in a professionally outfitted space. With an appropriately-sized stage, outstanding technical capabilities, and a ‘sweet spot’ of 400 to 500 income-generating seats, this facility will answer that need.”

The Van Dyke Performance Space is a joint project between the City of Greensboro and ArtsGreensboro. The new venue’s creation began in October 2014 when ArtsGreensboro announced that renowned choreographer and Dance Project artistic director Jan Van Dyke had pledged up to $1 million to create a new downtown performance and rehearsal space by expanding existing facilities at Greensboro’s Cultural Center on Davie Street. Van Dyke said she had been looking for potential property downtown for nearly two years.

When a recent Cultural Center Visioning Study sparked interest in the idea of expanding space there, Van Dyke and ArtsGreensboro President and CEO Tom Philion worked together and proposed the creation of a flexible downtown venue in which to produce dance, theatre, music, and a variety of other events with professional technical capabilities and seating for 400 to 500 patrons. Unfortunately, Jan Van Dyke passed away on July 3, 2015 after a two-and-half-year battle with primary peritoneal cancer.

“Jan’s remarkable commitment will help us create something unique and special downtown,” Philion said. “This new space will complement the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, filling a gap for smaller arts groups as well as entrepreneurs, event producers, and the community. Just as importantly, it will achieve all this at a modest cost.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity that could be a win-win for the arts community and our city,” Philion added. “It’s the domino effect. Jan Van Dyke has a long-held dream of creating a unique performance space; the Cultural Center needs to be reimagined and reconfigured so it can thrive and serve our community in an evolving downtown landscape; and the City envisions the creation of a cohesive Cultural District. Jan’s incredibly generous gift has set all this in motion.”

The space exists in her memory. Visit artsgreensboro.org for more information and upcoming events.

Other must-sees for 2017 include Twin City Stage’s The Miracle Worker, opening in February. The drama, written by William Gibson, recounts the inspiring tale of Helen Keller and her dedicated teacher, Annie Sullivan.

Coming this spring in Greensboro, don’t miss Triad Stage’s production of And So We Walked, an artist’s journey along the Trail of Tears. The surprisingly frank and sometimes funny production tells the misguided story of a contemporary Cherokee woman who decides to retrace the Trail of Tears, taking on the six-week, 900-mile journey with her father. The play is a personal odyssey as the woman is tested along the way and finds her inner heroic self.

Written by DeLanna Studi, this fascinating production digs into the issues that Studi, a member of the Cherokee tribe, and her peers wrestle with each day.

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