Thursday Jun 22nd, 2017
“America, don’t be afraid. The most beautiful part of your body is your heart, and it’s still beating… Listen.”
When tasked with directing an original show for A Salute to the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars, Tony Yazbeck (1997 YoungArts Winner in Theater) asked the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts what they felt was their responsibility as artists in the world today. The 20 artists faced the topic unflinchingly, and their collaboration resulted in LISTEN, an empowering multidisciplinary show that explored their joys, their fears, the importance of coming together, and the need to address the discomforts in this country that is, after all, our home. As Tony Yazbeck said in his director’s note: “Can we challenge ourselves further? Can we listen?”
Yazbeck, the 20 artists, and a spectacular creative team worked on this performance in Washington, D.C. for only one week before the big show. The performance was presented by YoungArts, the Commission on Presidential Scholars and the U.S. Department of Education, taking place June 19 at 8pm in The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as a celebration of the 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars this year; more than 1,000 attended the show, and almost 8,000 tuned in to the livestream online. Outside in the Hall of Nations, an exhibition curated by YoungArts’ Exhibitions Manager Luisa Múnera, she/rose, displays work by the seven visual artists, writers and designers who were chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, all incredible women.
The exhibition is on view through June 30 and the performance is now available for viewing online on YoungArts Facebook page.
2017 Winners in Dance Nicholas Cummings and Juliana Missano perform a quartet. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
Benjamin Wenzelberg (2017 Winner in Voice) performing "Parto, Parto, Ma tu Ben Mio." Photo by Christopher Duggen.
Juliana Missano leaps across stage. Photo by Christopher Duggen.
Amir Siraj (2017 Winner in Classical Music) plays "Etude Op. 40 No. 1, Prelude." Photo by Colin Hovde.
U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts gather together to perform "Nigel's Lament." Photo by Colin Hovde.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts pose after the Medallion Ceremony. Photo by Christopher Duggan.