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Monday, February 6, 2023


Sept. 26, 2001 – The weekend before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, St. John was the center of attention at a one-night event just outside the nation's capital that could have a positive impact in attracting visitors to the island for years to come.
While the dancers and musicians were the stars, the V.I. National Park served as the backdrop for the Sept. 8 "Face of America" performance at Wolf Trap, the only performing arts national park in the nation. Located in Vienna, Va., the facility is operated by the National Park Service and the Wolf Trap Foundation.
"It was pretty darn exciting," said V.I. National Park Supt. John King said.
Scenes shot on St. John in the spring were splashed across two large screens during live performances premiering new works by the dance troupes Donald Byrd/The Group and Ronald K. Browne/Evidence and jazz musician Steve Turre and his band Sanctified Shells. The program also featured a storyteller, Alice McGill, with tales based on Virgin Islands culture and a video presentation shot on St. John of a choreographed performance by members of the U.S. Olympic Synchronized Swim Team.
Those in attendance at the performance, King said, also included other park top brass, park staff, Friends of the Park staff, Friends members who live in the Washington area, former V.I. National Park Supt. Russ Berry and Delegate Donna Christian Christensen. They were in the company of some 3,300 other ticket holders, many of them likely candidates for a vacation in the Virgin Islands, King suggested.
"I can't help but believe this will influence their planning," he said.
A documentary on the making of the production may be in the works, Wolf Trap spokeswoman Danette Willis said. If it materializes, millions of people could be exposed to St. John's enticements. "We're trying to get a television series," Willis said.
Wolf Trap also plans to create a video using the footage shot on St. John. It will be shown at the National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay.
And while a picture of St. John scenery may be worth a thousand words, members of the national press corps and listeners to National Public Radio did hear about the performance, too, when Wolf Trap's director, Terrence D. Jones, spoke.
The St. John project was only the second for the "Face of America" series. The first, last year, focused on Yosemite National Park in California. Willis said Wolf Trap picked St. John's national park this time because, unlike Yosemite, it was one that few people had heard about.
Wolf Trap plans to continue its "Faces of America" series. "Just as our national parks showcase and preserve for future generations some of America's finest natural resources and places of cultural heritage, it is our unique role as America's national park for the performing arts to expand upon the artistic heritage with contemporary voices interpreting the world for future generations," Jones said in a press release.
He said the "Face of America" series supports the Wolf Trap park's commitment to the preservation of natural and cultural resources. It uses the performing arts to celebrate the diverse people, histories and landscapes that exist within America's national parks.
Sites announced to date for coming years are Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park in 2002, a three-site "Celebration of Flight" in 2003, three Hawaiian sites in 2004, the Southwest's Grand Canyon National Park in 2005 and Virginia's Shenandoah National Park in 2006.
One of the adjunct activities in connection with the development of this year's program was a contest to create a poster to promote the event. The winning entry, by Elizabeth Miles, a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, is pictured here. Miles incorporated themes of the performances into her work, evoking the feel of the V.I. National Park and Coral Reefs National Monument on the island, the "Face of America" web site states.
Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards did not return a telephone call requesting comment a about the program.
For more information about the Sept. 8 presentation and the series, see Wolf Trap's "Face of America" web site.

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