July 27, 2006 – The Reichhold Center for the Arts has an upcoming season designed to accommodate a wide array of tastes and needs, including those of the community's families.
For the first time, Reichhold is offering a two-part family series that includes a circus and a percussive dance group.
"We're building our audience for tomorrow," said Pamela Sanes, co-interim director of the center, at a Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours held Thursday night to showcase the Reichhold's season.
"We wanted to do as much as we can for families," Sanes said, adding that it is important for everyone in the community to become acquainted with the arts – including children.
But with Kool and the Gang, legendary jazz pianist McCoy Tyner and dancer/choreographer Savion Glover also on tap, more than the children will be happy.
The Puerto Rico Symphony will kick off the season Sept. 30, with Cuban pianist Liuba Pupo also performing. The event, as usual, is co-sponsored by the Forum.
On Oct. 14, the family affair begins with the Russian American Kids Circus. The circus showcases acrobatics, synchronized unicycling, tightrope walking and juggling – all performed by youngsters between 6 and 16, all of whom were trained by veteran performers from the Moscow Circus.
Bringing their unique but well-known combination of jazz, R & B, funk and pop, Kool and the Gang follow on Oct. 28.
McCoy Tyner, arguably one of the greatest living jazz composers and pianists, will arrive on the stage Nov. 10. Tyner, who got his start performing with the John Coltrane Quartet, has gone on to lead his own band and to work with such jazz greats as Stanley Clarke, Michael Brecker and Ron Carter.
Angélique Kidjo will bring her version of world music to the Reichhold on Jan. 13. Her music is a blend of funk, salsa, jazz, rumba and makossa. Kidjo shared the stage in 2004 with Santana, Andrea Bocelli and Nora Jones at the We are the Future concert in Rome.
For the second year, Reichhold will present Playing Ring: A Journey Into Quadrille on Jan. 27.
Playing Ring and several of the other performances have an educational component, Sanes said Thursday night.
In fact, she said, finding acts and performers willing to give back a little to the community is how the decisions are often made about who to bring in to perform.
Tony Award winning dancer and choreographer Savion Glover, who will appear on March 10, is one of those performers. He will be giving a lecture and demonstration for school students, Sanes said, showing the connection between hip-hop and tap dancing. Glover, who won the Tony for his dancing in and choreography of the Broadway smash hit, "Bring In Da Noize, Bring In Da Funk," also performed with the late Gregory Hines in the movie "Tap" and has a list of other appearances and achievements in the world of tap dancing.
The Reichhold stage will see more dance when Ailey II, a premier ensemble within the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, comes to town on May 12. The group will provide a master class as well as an educational performance, the day before their show, Sanes said.
As for families, reggae band Morgan Heritage – made up of the progeny of roots reggae icon Denroy Morgan – will hit the stage on Feb. 17. With a unique blend of hip-hop, R & B, new wave and punk, the group manages to bring it all back home to "roots," according to its Web site.
The season will wrap up on May 26 with percussive dance group Step Afrika!, which will also perform on St. Croix at Island Center on May 25.
A preseason treat in the person of Trinidad Road March King Machel Montano will take place on Aug. 19. Dubbed "A Summer Soca Splash," Mantano will be joined by Xtatik Bank and Trinidad Soca Queen Patrice Roberts.
The Reichhold Center was endowed by Henry Reichhold 30 years ago with stock of about $5.5 million. Today the Reichhold Foundation has about $12 million in assets, according to Joseph Boschulte, foundation executive director.
The foundation supports the administration and maintenance of the center using only 5 percent of the assets per year. The University of the Virgin Islands provides seed money for the shows and is reimbursed from the proceeds.
Performances and the center are also sponsored by local companies. This year's season sponsors include FirstBankVI, First Insurance, Marriott Frenchman's Reef and Tropical Shipping.
Boschulte said with a community the size of St. Thomas – only 50,000 people – it is difficult to sustain a facility such as the Reichhold.
He said, "We could bring in more expensive acts and charge $90 to $100. There are people who would pay that." But, he said, that would eliminate a lot of people in the community. "We can't do that."
Ticket information and show times can be found and tickets can be purchased at the Reichhold Web site.
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