Commissioned and premiered in 2016 by Ballroom Marfa and co-commissioned by Fusebox Festival, the opera is the third installment of The Marfa Triptych, a trilogy of musical performances by composer Graham Reynolds that was inspired by his interest in the intermingled populations of the Texas-Mexico border regions. The opera explores facts from Villa’s biography, examines the mythology surrounding him, and asks what Pancho Villa means to Mexican and American culture and where these meanings intersect and conflict.
“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance represents the kind of aesthetic and cultural hybridity that makes Texas such a unique place, which is why we present work like this for our students and the city,” said Clyde Valentín, director of Ignite/Arts Dallas.
The opera is sung partly in Spanish, partly in English, with accompanying projected translations along with film clips and historic photos. The ensemble features LOLA’s (Local Opera Local Artists) Liz Cass and Austin Lyric Opera’s Paul Sanchez as mezzo-soprano and tenor vocalists, as well as six instrumentalists accompanying Grammy Award-winning producer Adrian Quesada on guitar. The work is directed by Shawn Sides of the Rude Mechs.
Tickets are $10 per person, available online at igniteartsdallas.info or at the door on the night of the show.
SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts has launched a new initiative to focus on the intersections of arts and community engagement among Meadows School students, the University campus, the city of Dallas and the arts at large.
Under the leadership of Clyde Valentín, director of the Meadows School’s arts and urbanism initiative, Ignite Arts Dallas will integrate artistic practices with community engagement in Dallas and other communities across the country.
“Over the past several years the Meadows School has increasingly focused on the intersection of the arts and social engagement,” said Sam Holland, Algur H. Meadows Dean of the Meadows School. “Ignite Arts Dallas will bring together under one umbrella our existing programs in these areas, like the annual Meadows Prize, and spark new ideas for programs that will position the Meadows School and Dallas as a national model for art as civic practice.”
The Meadows Prize invites internationally recognized artists and scholars to interact with Meadows students and create a lasting work in Dallas, and students and faculty from throughout the school’s 11 disciplines are involved with projects that support diverse communities in the city. The 2015 winners of the Meadows Prize residency are the Detroit-based artist collective Complex Movements and Lear deBessonet, director of The Public Theater’s Public Works program in New York City.
A second major project of Ignite Arts Dallas, titled P3, will present non-traditional, multidisciplinary performance art work exploring the themes of racial and cultural equity, religion, immigration and the environment. An inaugural gift of $225,000 from the Embrey Family Foundation will enable P3 to showcase four works in Dallas between fall 2015 and fall 2017. The works will feature international, national and local artists working in collaboration with SMU students and community members. P3 also plans to commission a work from a local artist to be developed and produced in Dallas in spring 2017.
“The P3 series is designed to ‘seed’ a pipeline where creators of mid-size performance art projects begin to make Dallas a regular location for the development and presentation of work,” said Valentín, who served as executive director of the New York City-based Hip-Hop Theater Festival before coming to SMU in October 2013. “It is also a vital way to reach into the community and collaborate with organizations such as the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the South Dallas Cultural Center, Dallas Video Fest and others, while offering our students experiences beyond the classroom and the campus.”
The third major program of Ignite Arts Dallas will be the Dallas Arts Project, which will help bring work created in Dallas to completion and will advocate for exporting it to other communities. Through myriad cultural collaborations and interactions, Valentín and Meadows School faculty members and students will work to enhance Dallas’s existing arts and culture ecosystem and encourage people to think of Dallas’s culture in new ways while connecting that cultural energy to other creative communities around the country.
“Our vision for Ignite Arts Dallas is to engage in deep relationships with the broader Dallas community and to introduce students to the arts’ critical role in social engagement,” said Valentín. “Our tagline is ‘people, place, purpose,’ the main ingredients that create meaningful change, with the arts serving as a connector between various sectors that build community. The arts have the ability to shape the narrative of progress for Dallas and other urban centers across the country. Through our work with exemplary artists, cultural organizers and artistic scholars, we will contribute to a vision of our cities where the arts are integrated into our communities and where the modern urban fabric is built on a foundation of equity and sustainability.”
SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts has appointed Clyde Valentín to develop and lead new programs that will integrate artistic practices with community engagement in Dallas and other urban centers across the country.
Valentín most recently served as executive director of the New York City-based Hip-Hop Theater Festival (HHTF), where he oversaw its transition to become Hi-ARTS, an arts organization fostering creative, multidisciplinary work, outreach and education through the hip-hop art and culture movement. He will begin his new role at the Meadows School immediately.
“The Meadows School of the Arts is thrilled to welcome Clyde Valentín to our staff,” said Meadows Dean José Bowen. “Clyde is an innovator in socially engaged art, and for more than a decade, he has created programs that integrate the arts with their communities. His appointment represents a significant step in Meadows’ ongoing mission to engage in deep relationships with the broader Dallas community and to introduce students to the arts’ critical role in social engagement.”
In his new role, Valentín will build on programs that allow students to immerse themselves in Dallas and to engage with community members and arts institutions to create art collaboratively. Through these cultural collaborations and interactions, Valentín and Meadows faculty members and students will work to enhance Dallas’ existing urban infrastructure, encourage people to think of Dallas culture in new ways, and create a cultural energy that supports Dallas – home to the nation’s largest urban arts district – and its growth as a nationally recognized arts center.
“The arts don’t belong only in the classroom or studio – artists need to engage with their communities to remain vital, and SMU Meadows is a pioneer in instilling these values in its students,” said Valentín. “I look forward to working with Meadows faculty and students to explore best practices in myriad multidisciplinary approaches to making art and engaging the community.”
Under Valentín’s leadership, HHTF presentations and productions appeared in major U.S. urban centers including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The festival has presented hundreds of artists and introduced diverse national audiences to the stories, people, music, dance and word of hip-hop. The HHTF also has curated visual arts programs since 2007, including a solo show of the work of pioneering sculptor Carlos Mare139 Rodriguez and classes for teens with noted guest artists.