While spotlighting Austin visual arts, performing arts and other cultural offerings, this newspaper has spent the past two months roaming the digital realms of the city’s artists and arts groups.
We plan to keep that up. Tips are welcome at email@example.com.
Here are some baubles that caught our eyes this week:
• Ballet Austin has always been a champion of video artistry, community outreach and a broad range of movement classes fashioned for all levels of ability. So it is no wonder that the company’s website, balletaustin.org, swarms with options to connect you with its artists and teachers virtually.
In its most recent digital newsletter, for instance, Vicki Parson, director of the Butler Center for Dance and Fitness, offers "practical tips and tricks to get through these challenging times." Parson speaks to us from home: "I’ve made a determination to learn something new during this time of sheltering in place."
Instructional opportunities at the Ballet Austin website include online dance, fitness and Pilates classes, which can be divided into livestreams on its MindBody platform; on-demand virtual classes using prerecorded videos ($7 or less per class); and livestreamed classes through the instructors’ individual Instagram or Facebook pages. The website posts schedules of those classes.
Ballet Austin also offers ways to explore the world of dance intellectually. For instance, dancers Ian J. Bethany and Grace Morton, along with community education director Pei-San Brown, give a video tutorial on the common French terminology that company members use. Even though I took ballet classes — almost 50 years ago, if you must know — I learned a lot from this trio.
• At least through July 5, KMFA FM 89.5 will continue to broadcast select Austin Symphony performances from past seasons weekly at 7 p.m. Sunday. Don’t expect exact duplications of past concerts. Rather, Austin’s classical radio station has put together, in collaboration with conductor Peter Bay, programs that consist of two, three or four symphonic pieces from different performance dates.
For instance, the initial program that ran May 17 consisted of one piece each from composers Richard Strauss, Ludwig van Beethoven and Richard Wagner. Next up on May 31, we will be regaled with an all-Beethoven program, including Symphonies Nos. 3 and 5 along with Piano Concerto No. 4.
Check the schedule at kmfa.org.
• One of the most remarkable contributions to the University of Texas campus by the Landmarks public art program is James Turrell’s transcendent skyspace "The Color Inside." Not surprisingly, the small, domed, oval room that opens up to the sky atop the William C. Powers Jr. Student Activity Center has been closed during campus lockdown.
Fear not: Landmarks has found a virtual way for audiences to "visit" the work and maybe pick up some relaxation via a Vimeo video found at vimeo.com/418937607.
"With all the stresses during this time, many have turned to meditation as a source of comfort," says Kathleen Brady Stimpert, deputy director of the program. "We are pleased to offer a meditation inside ‘The Color Inside.’ Turrell's soothing light sequence has served as a refuge for campus and the greater community since 2013 and is one of the best-loved works in our collection. We are happy to share this virtual version that can be experienced from home."
For this mediation, the interior light sequence — along with the oval glimpse of the changing sky — goes with a classical guitar composition by Matthew Lyons that was commissioned by Austin Classical Guitar specifically for the skyspace last fall.
Important: Watch the 20-minute video on "full screen" in an alert but comfortable position.
Stimpert: "We hope it will delight our audiences’ eyes and soothe their souls."
• Speaking of full screen, that’s the perfect way to brighten your day with "You Can’t Stop the Beat: Hairspray Finale Spectacular," another triumph of at-home theater performance to go along with the masterly "Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Tribute."
Both expertly devised videos benefit the Actors Fund COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program, which is helping performers of various disciplines get through the current economic crisis.
On YouTube at bit.ly/2WLdGnf, this unstoppable number from the hit "Hairspray" cleverly combines scores of performers from multiple stagings of the show. Astonishingly, partly through deft editing, the choreography comes through. You’ll want to get up and dance, then ugly cry. In a good way.