“Phantasmic” a Triumph!
“Phantasmic,” the all-VPA showcase of extraordinary talent, delighted audiences both in the theatre and at home with its eerie holiday themed performances and exhibits. A showcase of all six VPA disciplines, “Phantasmic” marked the end of an era in the current VPA theatre, which is slated to begin renovation in early December.
“Phantasmic” was also the first live broadcast of a VPA performance in the history of the VPA, ushering in a new era of the way we deliver our acclaimed performances.
In-person audience members included schoolboard dignitaries including Caroline Zucker, Shirley Brown, and Tom Edwards. Zucker, who is responsible for achieving the approval of the theatre’s $22 million rebuild, was acknowledged for her unflagging championing of the VPA. She is set to retire from the schoolboard later in November.
If you missed it live, don’t fret! It will be available Nov. 3 at our event archive, which you can access on our website, bookervpa.com.
Art Students “Paint the Town Red”
And orange, and teal, and fuchsia, and black, and purple, and white, and…
VPA Level 1 Art students received an invitation they could not refuse: paint the steps of the iconic Art Ovation Hotel in downtown Sarasota to reflect the hotel’s aesthetically inspired theme. Under the direction of Steve Strenk, six students traveled downtown to paint these steps’ façade at the entry into the building. Now passersby downtown will be able to enjoy the next generation of artists as they take in the sights of our cultural gem of a city.
Art Focus of the Week: VPA Dance + University of Florida
VPA Dancers joined dancers around the state in a very special master class led by acclaimed University of Florida professor Xan Burley, whose class was a challenging and unique opportunity available to all VPA dancers as the first “virtual field trip” of the year. Burley’s accomplishments include a longtime professional collaboration with Doug Varone and Dancers, performing on stages nationally and internationally on stages including BAM/Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Metropolitan Opera.
This class offered our students the chance to approach college-level dance repertoire and to be a part of a statewide celebration of dance.
This is the first of many events Dance Chair Courtney Smith has planned to expose her students to dance at the college level so that they can explore their post-secondary options, in line with the BHS mission that “100 percent of our students will graduate college or career ready…” Smith was gratified by the enthusiastic response of her students and finds this type of opportunity to be the “lemonade” of COVID.
“We are able to give this experience to as many students as we have, without concern over cost,” Smith said.
Next up: a virtual master class with University of South Florida in mid-November.
Theatre Experiences Annual Festival Virtually
For decades, the VPA Theatre Department has participated in the annual Florida Theatre Conference, a celebration of the artform that also provides an opportunity for aspiring performers to audition for dozens of college programs and perform in an adjudicated showcase with the top prize involving traveling to the annual Southeastern Theatre Conference, a bigger and more prestigious version of the state event.
With the restrictions of Covid, this year’s festival looks very different, offered virtually, as so many other art showcases are in this age. The transfer of performance venue hasn’t diminished the astounding work of the Level 4 Theatre class, who, under the direction of Scott Keys, developed a devised theatre piece, “The Bone Orchard,” which explores the ephemera of life, including dreams never fulfilled, hatchets never buried, and love never requited, among other ideas.
On Oct. 30, the Level 4 class got to enjoy the fruits of their labor, watching together the final video of their FTC submission. Students were mesmerized by the outcome, cheering one another on as they witnessed the performance in its entirety.
BHS Benefits from Lowe’s Generosity
Booker High School received an incredible gift from Lowe’s Home Improvement, Southwest Sarasota branch: 24 high-quality air filtration systems to be given to requesting teachers. Master of community partnerships Dr. Shelley created a relationship with Lowe’s prior to the opening of schools, when they helped us with supplies used for distancing infrastructural elements such as the lane dividers installed in each building.
“When they delivered the purifiers, I tried to give them a check, and Dan refused it,” said an astonished Dr. Shelley.
The gift offers great peace of mind to all receiving teachers, including those in VPA who requested them. Systems went into the classrooms of Lori Burton, John Timpe, Cathie Janssen, Amanda Nix, and Sung Choe.
On behalf of Booker High School, the VPA offers enormous thanks to all our community partners who help our students and staff, and this time Lowe’s has delivered in ways we could never imagine. THANK YOU!