FirstWorks Takes Over Kennedy Plaza Sept. 29
Monday, September 10, 2012
FirstWorks is the lead Cultural Partner; collaborating with the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, Mayor Angel Taveras; Providence’s Downtown Parks Conservancy; and over a dozen other cultural organizations in this creative place making project funded in part by a National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" grant.
Headliners Bandaloop + Squonk
The FirstWorks Festival: On the Plaza in 2012 turns gravity sideways with Bandaloop’s spectacular vertical performance held 30-stories in the air, brings art-rock music to audiences as Squonk Opera tours on a roving two-story-tall stage, circles the globe with martial arts dance from Sumatra, and introduces New York style and sophistication to Afro-Caribbean rhythm and passion with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.
More than 200 artists in 1 day
In all, over 200 national and international guest artists will take to the streets of Greater Kennedy Plaza, transformed into a pedestrian plaza for one-night only, to create a gateway to the arts and a world of culture during this free festival of music, dance and performance. The line-up is now at www.first-works.org.
“This Festival will be truly unique,” said Kathleen Pletcher, executive artistic director of FirstWorks. “People will be able to dance the night away, stroll to performances by world-class artists and encounter intriguing public art projects, roving street bands and other surprises along the way.”
Pletcher added, “We will have local food trucks at the Festival Café and thanks to generous sponsorship from Meritage Properties, owners of One Financial Plaza, we will have an amazing performance 30-stories in the air – all right here in Kennedy Plaza – free. It is going to be a kinetic extravaganza that will introduce visitors to amazing artists and performers.”
A new signature tourism event
“The FirstWorks Festival: On the Plaza is debuting as a signature tourism event featuring both local and national guest artists,” said Lynne McCormack, Director, Department of Art, Culture + Tourism. “The National Endowment for the Arts has given us an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen our commitment to the arts as an engine for growth and to recognize the arts in Providence and the city’s growing role as a creative place and a creative community.”
The objective of this initiative is to re-envision Greater Kennedy Plaza, the historic and transit hub of Providence, Rhode Island, as a vibrant town square. “A thriving arts sector brings with it economic and cultural vitality that helps drive community sustainability,” said Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
An extraordinary coalition of public, corporate and non-profit partners have contributed to the project including: WaterFire, Festival Ballet Providence, Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Programs, RI Philharmonic Orchestra, RI School of Design, The Steel Yard, Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth, AS220, RIPTA, Downtown Improvement District, Providence Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Planning and Development, Cornish Associates and the Providence Foundation.
Andy Nathan, CEO of Meritage Properties and owners of One Financial Plaza said, “We are thrilled to participate in the FirstWorks Festival: On the Plaza in 2012 and proud to be part of the Providence community.”
National headline artists
Bandaloop Boundless (excerpts)
One Financial Plaza, Fulton and Exchange Sts., 7:30 & 9:30pm
* brief sneak peek, 6pm
Bandaloop turns gravity sideways 30-stories above Kennedy Plaza in a jaw-dropping nighttime spectacle! Under the artistic direction of Amelia Rudolph, these vertical dance pioneers perform dynamic, unforgettable, elegant choreography as they fly and spin through the air, mesmerizing audiences below. Their exhilarating site-reactive performances have been staged from the cliffs of Yosemite National Park to the Seattle Space Needle. Bandaloop joins FirstWorks for 5 days to share its mix of dance and climbing that celebrates community and the environment. With original music composed by Dana Leong, excerpts from "Bound(less)" explore the paradox of how, when bound to each other, we are free to soar as individuals.
Plaza Stage, 4:45 & 10:00pm
The island of Sumatra is home to Nan Jombang, artists whose work is a compelling mix of martial arts, folk theater, and body percussion traditions from their culture. With fiery grace and striking clarity, these dancers from Indonesia’s leading contemporary dance company practice the 14th century old martial arts – called Silat – every day to develop extraordinary physical control. On tour as part of Center Stage SM a program of the U.S. Department of State.
Papermoon Puppet Theatre
Strolling, 4:00-5:00pm & 6:00-7:00pm
September 30, 4pm RISD Auditorium: Mwathirika (ticketed performance)
The young, expert artists of Papermoon use mixed-media productions to create works that imaginatively explore identity, society and Indonesia’s recent past. Using Japanese wagon puppetry, Papermoon will mingle with FirstWorks Festival-goers for spontaneous encounters with puppeteers who draw on Indonesia’s hip, youthful vibe. On tour as part of Center Stage SM a program of the U.S. Department of State.
Plaza Stage, 5:15 & 10:30pm
From Brooklyn by way of India, this 9-piece ensemble melds the infectious North Indian rhythm bhangra with a host of sounds including: funk, go-go, Latin, and jazz. These days you are as likely to find Red Baraat throwing down at an overheated warehouse party in their Brooklyn neighborhood as you are at Lincoln Center or the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Plaza Stage, 6:15 & 8:30pm
New York style and sophistication meet Afro-Caribbean rhythm and passion with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra – the musical embodiment of the steamy, culturally rich neighborhood of Spanish Harlem. Directed by world-renowned pianist, arranger and producer Oscar Hernández, this explosive 13-member, Grammy award-winning ensemble has reintroduced the classic sounds of New York City salsa to music lovers worldwide.
City Hall Plaza, 5:00, 8:00 & 10:00pm
This musical street spectacle on wheels – GO Roadshow is a six-piece art-rock band/performance troupe that has retrofitted a 13-ton, 38-foot-long flatbed truck as a rolling two-story-tall stage. Complete with lights, sound system and far-out mechanical props, this carnival-esque, 45-minute cavalcade of spinning instruments and melodic bombast also includes a blimp with a face and working jaw. Squonk’s fast, funny, “Debussy meets Godzilla” performances have played on three continents and in over 25 states.
Plaza Stage, 4:00 & 8:00pm
One of Boston’s hottest bands, the joyful, boisterous Zili Misik is an all-female band that performs blues, jazz, neo-soul, Afro-Cuban son, reggae, roots, Afro-Brazilian samba and Haitian mizik rasin. The band offers a feast for the senses and there is no other American band performing the type of music that Zili creates.
Rhode Island Headline Artists
Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Programs
City Hall Plaza, Fulton St. side, 4:30 & 7:00pm, As You Like It; 5:45 & 9:00pm, Winter’s Tale
Shakespeare’s most whimsical plays, As You Like It and Winter’s Tale will be performed in thirty minute selections by MFA students on a mobile stage wagon, custom designed for the FirstWorks Festival by Tony Award-winning set designer Eugene Lee and director Brian Mertes, Head of the Brown/Trinity M.F.A. Directing Program.
Festival Ballet Providence
Washington St., 6:00pm
Festival Ballet Providence and other local art organizations are teaming up to make their flash mob debut at the FirstWorks Festival. A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly, perform an unusual and unexpected act for a brief time and then disperse – all for entertainment and artistic expression. Performed to the popular hit, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, and all festival goers are invited to participate.
Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra
Providence City Hall, 7:00 & 9:00pm
Members of The Rhode Island Philharmonic will fill Providence City Hall with Stravinsky’s ground breaking L’Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale). Incorporating jazz, marches and tango rhythms, the story recounts a Russian fable of a deserting soldier and his deal with the Devil. This captivating and rarely heard piece features seven of the Philharmonic’s masterful musicians, conducted by Francisco Noya, along with Gamm Theatre artistic director Tony Estrella.
Over eighty sparkling bonfires installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence will be accompanied by walkway music and marching bands threading through the WaterFire events. For first time, fires will welcome visitors to Greater Kennedy Plaza with celebratory bonfire installations at each end of the Plaza and a 100 Torch Salute will surround Waterplace Park Basin to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting.
Site Specific Performances & Art Installations
Angkor Dance Troupe
Burnside Park, 5:15 & 8:00pm
Nationally recognized as one of the most accomplished and experienced of the U.S.-based Cambodian traditional arts ensembles, their repertoire consists of Classical or court dance, considered by many to be a universal symbol of Cambodian culture representing the beauty and spirituality, and Folk dances which are a way for displaced Cambodians to remember their homeland and to teach their children about the forces that shape the lives of Cambodia's rural population.
Extraordinary Rendition Band (ERB)
City Hall Plaza, 6:30 & 9:45pm
Part of a rich and diverse history of styles, influences, cultures, and purposes, ERB will celebrate the history and present state of brass, drum, marching, and roving bands while having a great time playing together and with the FirstWorks Festival audience.
Julian Hildago & JJ Latin Dancers
Near Plaza Stage, 6:15 & 8:30pm
JJ Latin Dancers are the pioneer and premier Salsa dance-company in Rhode Island. The company will hold open salsa lessons where FirstWorks Festival audiences can participate in the creative dance form of the streets, mixed with technique and passion for the music.
Providence Roller Derby
Washington St., 5:30 & 9:00pm
Get close and personal with skaters from RI’s only roller derby league. The Providence Roller Derby! Watch as Providence’s own fierce women on 8 wheels demonstrate basic skills and roller derby moves inches away from the crowd.
Yellow Project, Taniya Vaidya
Burnside Park Fountain, 6:00pm
This interactive performance piece pays tribute to the legacy of Roger Williams and Providence’s unique place in history. The "Yellow Flower Project" is a performance piece inspired by the water wheel and spinning wheel commemorative of the textile industry of Providence. Costumes will be symbolically dyed with native dye and a dying demonstration will accompany the music and performance. Its welcome of people of all races and religions is shown by the use of performers’ costumes dyed with Natural dyes from various regions.
Rising Stars of FirstWorks
Damhsa Irish Dance
Burnside Park, 6:15pm
Damhsa Irish Dance will perform a variety of dances including hard, soft and group in both modern and traditional choreography. Dancers range in age from 3 years old to adult and wear traditional shoes, costumes and the girls curl their hair in the traditional style of tight banana curls.
Burnside Park, 6:30pm
Winner of the Best of RI Monthly 2012 for dancing on the streets, RI's premiere youth dance company has created a FirstWorks Festival site specific dance performance highlighting the urban environment. Dancers attached to their ipods and phones, will prove that today's young artist is a multi-tasker. To the music of Blondie “Jump!” dancers will fill the space with energy and a hyperkinetic exuberance.
The Laotian Dance Troupe, Laotian Community Center
Burnside Park, 4:15pm
The Laotian Dance Troupe will present a rich and colorful performance that focuses on one of the loveliest of mythological beings, dwelling in the Himmapan Forest. The Kinnaly, also known as daughters of the Sky God, often escape their father's celestial playground to come down on earth and enjoy simple pleasures such as bathing in the river. The song of the same name "Kinnaly" depicts this particular bathing scene before they fly back to the heavens.
Burnside Park, 4:30pm
Music One, an innovative program designed to support and educate youth by cultivating their talents in original music and multi-media projects while providing mentoring, leadership development and empowerment for making positive change, will present a music performance showcase featuring students original compositions and arrangements.
Burnside Park, 6:45pm
A collective of Hip Hop artists based in Rhode Island use Hip Hop culture to engage with communities and relay positive social messages to youth. Project 401 will hold dance sessions at the FirstWorks Festival and bring the positive art of Hip Hop to Greater Kennedy Plaza.
The Rhode Island Kung Fu Club
Burnside Park, 4:00pm
A non-profit martial and cultural arts organization, The Rhode Island Kung Fu Club will perform the Chinese lion dance, a traditional cultural practice that combines kung fu-inspired movement by two practitioners as the “lion” with accompanying percussion music. The art symbolically represents the fostering of positive energy and good luck while warding away negative energy.
AS220 Photo Mem: Kennedy Plaza Portrait Project
September 25 – November 15, 2012
Artists’ Reception: September 29, 2012, 4-9 pm
Gallery at City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street, 2nd Floor
Mobile RIPTA Bus Gallery – on Washington St., September 29, 4-9pm
For the past three summers, the AS220 Youth photography program called Photo Mem has spent six weeks each summer producing the Kennedy Plaza Portrait Project. The goal is to capture a cross section of Rhode Island citizens by photographing Black & White portraits and recording interviews of a small cross section of the tens of thousands of people who use Kennedy Plaza every day. The campaign was developed in collaboration with Nail Communications, an award-winning design firm based in Providence.
Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth, Our Town Mosaic Mural
Bank of America City Center tunnel, continuous
Conceived, designed and created over six months by 35 youth ages 8 - 18, the ceramic tile mural features an ocean wave and children holding a kite asking viewers to “rise above hate.”
Rhode Island School of Design Public Art
The Boat, Cody Henrichs
Burnside Park, continuous
The bow of ship (The HANNAH) springs forth from Rhode Island history. A symbol of rebellion and unification, an effigy to the constant alteration and development of the city center that is Burnside Park.
Light in the Tree, Stuart Penman
Burnside Park, continuous
In an effort to reengage the public and pull Burnside Park out of the backdrop of the Kennedy Plaza transit hub, a system of lights and motion sensors will hang from the trees illuminating the park as FirstWorks Festival goers pass by and then turn off again shortly after they go by.
Story-telling Fence, Qian Huang
Burnside Park, continuous
The Burnside Park fence will be transformed into a story-telling fence with a chronological series of historical images depicting the mass transit history of Providence and Kennedy Plaza and displayed to appear coherent when the viewer looks at them from an angle. Accompanying stories will be told with people walking along the fence during the FirstWorks Festival.
Streetcar Spiderweb, 1908, Roy Small
Union Station pedestrian tunnel, continuous
A steel reconstruction of the Providence’s streetcar system map from 1908 will be suspended from the ceiling of the transportation-turned-pedestrian tunnel located beneath the old Union Station. It is complemented with overhead wires and miniature counterweights that reference those that were actually used in the old system, as well as a selection of HP Lovecraft quotes about streetcars.
Providence Under Pressure, Yarrow Thorne
East Approach, continuous
Urban Street Art Exposed presented by the Avenue Concept. Urban street artists will create live, bold paintings on wood panels throughout the day on east approach between the skating rink and Burnside Park.
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