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City of San Francisco Awards Major Grant to CounterPulse for Tenderloin Renovations

May 6, 2016—CounterPulse administrators have announced receipt of $100,000 grant from the City of San Francisco. The grant will be used at their new location at 80 Turk Street to remodel the front of the building and to provide equipment and furnishings. The grant was awarded by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, San Francisco Arts Commission, and Grants for the Arts/Hotel Tax Fund.

"In its short time on Turk Street, CounterPulse has already proven to be an invaluable resource for the community," said Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny, "making good on its mission to be an inclusive space where all are welcome to participate in their unique programming. We believe that a fully restored façade will solidify CounterPulse as a beacon for the arts and a place of pride for the neighborhood."

Julie Phelps

The project is a pilot partnership between CounterPulse and the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) to create stable physical spaces for arts and cultural organizations to facilitate equitable urban transformation. The rebirth of a former strip club as the new CounterPulse theater is part of a growing revitalization in the neighborhood. Tomás Riley, CounterPulse Executive Director, pointed out that nearby a hotel and condominium are going up, while a restaurant, bar, and other neighborhood businesses are in the works. "The sense of community is really strong in the Tenderloin," said CounterPulse Artistic Director Julie Phelps, much more than at their previous location in the SOMA neighborhood. Renovating the facade "is key to our strategy of entering the neighborhood," she said.

“The Office of Economic and Workforce Development is a proud supporter of CounterPulse to ensure San Francisco will always have a vibrant arts culture in the Tenderloin community," said Todd Rufo, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, "This investment is part of Mayor Lee’s Central Market and Tenderloin Strategy to ensure private and public partnerships are leveraged to create an inclusive neighborhood for everyone."

The new location boasts a three-floor, state-of-the-arts facility designed by Jensen Architects. The soup-to-nuts theater amenities include everything from modern lobby to coat check room, fully-furnished dressing rooms, unisex restrooms, and a large multipurpose room, in addition to the 115 seat theater. The lobby also serves as an art gallery, currently exhibiting paintings by Feldsott.

The urban transformation has drawn attention from outside the Bay Area. "The profile of CounterPulse has exploded because of this project," said Julie Phelps. In the last year she has received inquiries from artists eager to perform at the new venue, and has been flown to conferences to speak on revitalizing neighborhoods with art at their center. "We consider ourselves to be a tremendous resource," said Tomás Riley, "in a neighborhood that needs resources."

SF Performances Announces New President

May 10, 2016—San Francisco Performances has named Melanie Smith as president of the 37-year old arts organization. She succeeds founder Ruth A. Felt, who retires in the fall. Previously, Smith was Executive Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus since 2006. After positions with Carnegie Hall, the Midori Foundation, and Young Concert Artists, she served as San Francisco Performances' Director of Education/Artistic Administration for nine years. Ruth A. Felt said, “I am thrilled that Melanie will return to San Francisco Performances to lead the organization into the future. Few people know the organization and the national performing arts scene as well as she does. She is widely respected and beloved by artists, arts organizations and the arts community.” Smith will begin her new position in August.

National Choreographers Initiative Selects Smuin Ballet Dancers

May 06, 2016—Smuin Ballet dancers Nicole Haskins and Ben Needham-Wood have been selected by the 2016 National Choreographers Initiative for two of four choreographer roles. This is the first time that two choreographers from the same company have been chosen for this honor, a remarkable accomplishment given that the selection was made from a national pool of candidates.

Ben Needham-Wood

The National Choreographers Initiative (NCI) was established in 2012 by Molly Lynch to give dancers the opportunity to develop and promote professional dance in the United States. Haskins and Needham-Wood will spend the summer creating original contemporary ballets to be showcased at the 12th annual National Choreographers Initiative event.

Smuin Ballet Artistic Director Celia Fushille said, “Part of our mission at Smuin Ballet is to develop the choreographic voice of our dancers. We are thrilled that two of our company members have been honored by the NCI. We know our audiences will be looking forward to seeing their work, as will future audiences across the country.”

In addition to her three years with Smuin, Haskins has danced professionally with the Sacramento Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Washington Ballet, and Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, while her choreography has been commissioned by companies in California. She has presented original works at competitions and contributed to Smuin productions.

Needham-Wood presented his world premiere work Maslow in 2015 for Smuin Ballet’s Dance Series One. In addition to numerous dance credits, he has choreographed for film, including Baseballet, featured in the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame as part of “The Dancing Athlete."

The annual National Choreographers Initiative event will be held at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, California.

San Francisco Ballet News

Corps de Ballet Member Esteban Hernandez has been honored with the Latino Spirit Award by the California Latino Legislative Caucus in recognition of talent within the California Latino community.

Principal Dancers Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan will perform a pas de deux in Taipei, Taiwan for the 9th International Ballet Star Gala on May 21 and 22. The all-star program features principal dancers from The Royal Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, and others.

Boys ages 8-11 and their parents are invited to San Francisco Ballet School’s Boys’ Open House on Saturday, May 14. The complimentary event includes a facility tour, an observation of studio rehearsals, and a Q&A session. To RSVP, see school.sfballet.org/boys or call 415-865-6700.

BayDance © 1998 Michael W. Phelan. All photographs in BayDance.com retain the copyright of the respective dance company and photographer.BayArea.com Site of the Week
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Last modified: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 8:53 PM