Inspired by graceful herons, crawling insects, and even alligators, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is focusing on south Florida's national parks in its latest edition of Face of America.
The Foundation, which showcases its performances at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia, sent artists from Parson's Dance to Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas national parks, as well as Big Cypress National Preserve, to transform nature's movements into dance. The result is Face of America: Spirit of Florida, which will premier September 8 at the Filene Center in the park.
Created to celebrate the country’s natural treasures through the performing arts, the production explores the unique natural and cultural aspects of the south Florida units of the National Park System. The one-night-only performance will feature a combination of live dance and music with Parson’s original dance filmed on-location in the parks. The film will be seen on an enormous HD screen at the 7,000-seat Filene Center.
If you have an opportunity to see this production, don't miss it, as it presents a journey through one of the world’s largest ecosystems featuring innovative dance from internationally acclaimed Parsons Dance.
Supporting the live dance segment will be a performance filmed in high-definition on location in the parks. And then there will be a soundtrack highlighted by a live performance from GRAMMY-nominated, Cuban-American timba band Tiempo Libre and recorded music from multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird.
The production will also offer insights into recreational opportunities in the wilderness and on the water.
“We are thrilled to partner with the national parks in south Florida to shine a light on the many different faces of these special lands—from the diverse people of the region to the varied wildlife to the critical preservation elements. There is so much rich culture here and we think the arts can bring that out in a very unique and meaningful way,” said Terrence Jones, Wolf Trap’s president and CEO, and creator of Face of America.
Site Specific Works Reflect Each Park’s Unique Aspects
Original dance works will shed light on the unique characteristics of each park.
At Big Cypress National Preserve, birds are abundant and therefore a theme of the performances on site. While David Parsons said he and his troupe did a good deal of background research in advance that was helpful, he added that most of the preparation related to choreography was perhaps…for the birds.
“Once we were on location we became aware of so many elements in the environment that were important, the arc of the sunlight, the water drops…” he said in between takes at Big Cypress. "Working in nature like this takes a lot for the dancers to pull it off.”
“We are so pleased to be one of the parks selected to participate in Wolf Trap’s Face of America initiative,” said Big Cypress Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “Big Cypress is very mysterious and can be intimidating for some. What a great way to bring out the magic of this special preserve using the arts.”
At Biscayne National Park, dance sequences celebrate the fish that inhabit the largest tropical marine park in the National Park System. On Porgy Key, a solo dancer demonstrates the strength with which residents of this area combat and overcome hurricanes.
“Biscayne National Park is an extraordinary place. It is where the tropics meet the northern climate, where currents collide, and an area where people can visit and learn about the marine environment. This project is really a unique and different way to introduce new audiences to the park, and all of these aspects of it,” said Biscayne Superintendent Mark Lewis.
At Everglades National Park, performances showcase alligators, an animal synonymous with south Florida, and the variety of activities visitors can enjoy on the wilderness waterway.
“We have an artists in the park program, but I don’t think we’ve ever had dancers, One of our major goals here is to educate people about Everglades National Park, and for them to come and bring their families, and this is one other dimension of the Everglades that is new, and we think it’s unbelievably exciting,” said Superintendent Dan Kimball.
On the final leg of the journey, dancers and crew traveled 70 miles off the coast of Key West to the remote islands of Dry Tortugas National Park. The performances at this location celebrate freedom and highlight historic Fort Jefferson, which has served as an important safe haven for more than 130 years.
In keeping with Wolf Trap’s mission to keep the arts accessible to the broadest possible audience, prices for this world premiere performance range from $15-$40. For tickets, visit the foundation's website.
Face of America is Wolf Trap’s original signature performance series, which uses the rich language of the performing arts to celebrate the diverse people, histories, and landscapes that exist in and around its fellow national parks across the country. Launched in 2000, the Face of America series commissions and films original dance performances in national parks to portray the spirit and essence of America’s national treasures. The footage is then integrated with the live performances of dance, music, and storytelling, and presented at the 7,000-seat Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
Previous Face of America performances include:
Face of America: Yosemite National Park
Face of America: Virgin Islands National Park
Face of America: Mammoth Cave National Park
Face of America: A Celebration of Flight
Face of America: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Face of America: Glacier National Park