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Canadian director and choreographer of Temptations musical nominated for Tonys

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NEW YORK — Several Canadian theatre-makers have been nominated at the Tony Awards for their work on a musical based on the story of the Temptations.

According to Toronto-raised choreographer Sergio Trujillo, it’s all part of a Canadian plot to reign over the Great White Way.

“We (Canadians) do try to stick together,” said Trujillo, who was nominated alongside American-Canadian director Des McAnuff, for “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations.”

“I keep on telling Des that we’re spies and we’re slowly trying to take over Broadway.”

As the Tony nominations were announced Tuesday morning, Trujillo said he was engrossed in drama of a different sort — trying to convince his one-year-old to eat his breakfast.

But then Trujillo heard his husband, who was watching the awards broadcast, screaming for him in the other room of their New York home. 

He said the news he had received a nod for best choreography, his second Tony nomination, sent him “levitating” with joy. But it wasn’t long before his son’s nutritional needs brought him back down to earth.

“My son required feeding, and that was the most important thing,” said Trujillo. “He continues to ground me all day.”

Trujillo said he called up McAnuff, former artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, to congratulate him on his nomination for best direction of a musical in “Ain’t Too Proud.”

The two staged a brief run of the Motown-inspired musical at Mirvish’s Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto last fall, and previously worked together on the Tony-winning musical “Jersey Boys.” 

“We’re such great collaborators … and I think this show is just a true reflection of our collaboration,” said Trujillo

“Ain’t Too Proud” racked up a total of 12 Tony nods, including best musical and best book, which Trujillo sees as validation that the show is more than just a “jukebox musical.”

“I think this particular story speaks volumes to North American history. For us Canadians, we’re very connected to it, especially in Toronto. Detroit is right next door, so we’re very connected to this music,” said Trujillo.

“I’m just very proud of this moment, and proud to celebrate being part of the Canadian culture and the musical theatre community.”

Toronto-born theatre projection designer Peter Nigrini is also being recognized for best scenic design of a musical in “Ain’t Too Proud,” a nomination he shares with set designer Robert Brill, and best lighting design of a musical for “Beetlejuice” alongside Kenneth Posner.

Toronto’s Bob Martin and collaborator Chad Beguelin are also vying for best book of a musical for “The Prom.”

“Hadestown” earned a leading 14 Tony nominations Tuesday. The show, which intertwines the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone, enjoyed a brief run at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre in late 2017 before making its Broadway debut earlier this year.

The Tony Awards will be handed out in New York City on Sunday, June 9 during a three-hour broadcast hosted by James Corden.

— By Adina Bresge in Toronto

The Canadian Press


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Alberta

Alberta’s Distinguished Artist Award Recipients Announced

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June 16, 2021

Alberta’s Distinguished Artist Award Recipients Announced

(Calgary, AB) The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation is pleased to announce that artist Faye HeavyShield (Blood Reserve, Kainaiwa Nation, AB), writer and filmmaker Cheryl Foggo (Calgary, AB), and dance choreographer Vicki Adams Willis (Calgary, AB), have been selected to receive the 2021 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award.

Arlene Strom, chair of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation said, “Albertans can be proud of these three whose contributions have pushed the boundaries of art to reflect Indigenous identity and expression; present a more inclusive and diverse view of Alberta’s history; and define the province as a beacon for jazz dance artists. Each has contributed immeasurably to the development of the province’s artists, arts communities and expanding art disciplines.”

Faye HeavyShield, Visual Arts

Faye Heavyshield

Over the past 30 years, Faye HeavyShield has been one of Canada’s pre- eminent artists within Alberta and the Blackfoot Confederacy. Currently living on the Blood Reserve in southwestern Alberta, Faye studied at Alberta University for the Arts in Calgary.

Honouring her Kainaiwa (Blood) Nation, the striking landscape they dwell within and the Blackfoot language which she speaks, Faye HeavyShield’s legacy of three-dimensional art and sculpture including recent installations incorporating photography and delicately constructed paper figures make her a senior figure in the artistic and cultural renaissance of Indigenous nations in the country.

“…My art is a reflection of my environment and personal history as lived in the physical geography of southern Alberta with its prairie grass, river coulees, and wind and an upbringing in the Kainaiwa community. I would say the environment is an extension of myself because it’s always been there, from the time I was a child. It was one of the first things that I saw and smelled. I consider it a part of me. The landscape is an extension of the body because we’re dependent on it, and to flip that, the landscape is dependent on us…” Faye Heavyshield

Beyond her personal practice, Faye is actively involved with her community by working with youth through art programming and creating cultural connections for children in care.

Cheryl Foggo, Playwright, screenwriter, film maker, author

Cheryl Foggo

Creating a more inclusive and diverse view of Alberta’s history through her plays, films, books, articles and multi-media presentations has been Cheryl Foggo’s life work. Profiled in Who’s Who in Black Canada and the recipient of the 2008 national Harry Jerome Award for The Arts, Foggo has applied her talent as a researcher and writer to uncovering the compelling but overlooked stories of Alberta’s Black settlers and

cowboys. Most recently, the award winning National Film Board feature- length documentary, John Ware Reclaimed (2020), highlighted an earlier thriving Black community in the province often left out of the history books.

Her seminal, autobiographical book, Pourin’ Down Rain: A Black Woman Claims Her Place In The Canadian West, is a powerful narrative of Foggo’s ancestors’ journey from enslavement in the United States to Western Canada. The book, first published in 1990, received the distinction of a special 30th anniversary reprint in 2020. Her books for young people: Dear Baobab, I Have Been in Danger and One Thing That’s True have garnered many commendations between them, including One Thing That’s True being short-listed for the Governor General’s Award. In addition to her books, Cheryl Foggo has published prose in more than 40 journals and anthologies.

Two new productions of Foggo‘s plays are scheduled in 2021 with the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and the Urgency Collective in Calgary, and her short play The Sender is currently available through Toronto’s Obsidian Company’s 21 Black Futures Project. As a cultural activist, mentor and volunteer she advocates for writers and Black artists.

Vicki Adams Willis Performing Arts: Dance

Vicki Adams Willis

Vicki Adams Willis has changed the face of jazz dance in Alberta and Canada. A co-founder nearly 40 years ago of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD), she is foremost a teacher and choreographer of more than 35 original productions. She is recognized as a true leader in the world of jazz; an acclaimed ground-breaking choreographer who created one of the most unique jazz dance companies in the world, and the key person to ensure Calgary, Alberta as a viable dance centre for serious jazz artists. She has helped to change the very course of the jazz dance art form by influencing students, dancers, musicians and audiences with her strongly researched and brilliantly creative work.

Jazz dance is a misunderstood art form. Born of African parents and of the Black American experience, Vicki Adams Willis acknowledges herself as a guest in this form and has demonstrated her deep understanding of, and utter respect for, the authentic roots and history of jazz through her research, teaching and choreography. The company she co-created in 1984 – Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) has gained international recognition. It has been referenced in articles, dissertations, anthologies and, most recently, in an award-winning international film: Uprooted–The Journey of Jazz Dance, which had its Canadian premiere at the 2021 Toronto Black Film Festival.

“..These three ground-breaking women have offered important contributions to the arts in Canada. Their creativity has brought new light to their respective disciplines and created countless opportunities for us all to learn, grow and explore fresh ideas. Artists like this are essential to the vibrancy of our communities and we are truly fortunate to have them as cultural leaders in our province and country as a whole…”

Her Honour, the Honourable Salma Lakhani, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta

The laureates will each receive a handcrafted medal, a $30,000 award and a two-week residency at the Banff Centre’s Leighton Artist Studios. The awards patron, the Honourable Salma Lakhani Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, will present the awards at a celebration hosted by the Community of Lac La Biche and Portage College, Lac La Biche campus, at an awards event June 10 and 11, 2022.

The awards are funded through an endowment established with private donations and gifts from the Province of Alberta and Government of Canada. The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta serves as honorary patron of the awards. Since its inception, 23 Distinguished Artists and 63 Emerging Artists have been recognized across Alberta with this significant honour. See details at artsawards.ca

The 2021 Distinguished Artists were chosen from nominations received and reviewed by a jury of experts overseen by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Jurors for the 2021 Distinguished Artist Awards were Mary-Beth Laviolette, visual arts curator and author; John Estacio, 2017 Distinguished Artist and JUNO nominated composer; Seika Boye, scholar, writer, artist and Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies; Jordan Abel, Nisga’a writer from Vancouver and Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta teaching Indigenous Literatures and Creative Writing.

Click to learn more about the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation.

Read more on Todayville.com.

 

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Alberta

Book of poetry about healing journey. Proceeds shared with sexual assault centre

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Submitted by the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre 

She Was – Book of poetry speaks to healing journey

Local author releases book in support of CASASC

Local artist and mental health advocate Sabrina Samuel has released a book of poetry with a portion of proceeds supporting the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC).

The book She Was is inspired by Samuel’s healing journey, with each poem telling the story of incredible women along the path.

“The work illustrates our dynamic power, but also our humanity,” said Samuel. “Women are multi-dimensional. My hope for the book is that it will be an agent for positive change, celebration, collaboration and discussion. I’m deeply grateful for the help I received from CASASC, so I wanted to partner with them.”

The launch of She Was coincides with Sexual Violence Awareness Month (SVAM) in the month of May and leads up to Mother’s Day.

Samuel said all art is a response to something.

“When you use metaphor to address pain, you can reach people differently,” she said. “I understand fully that racialized women are the most vulnerable to abuse, harassment and assault. I don’t want to be a statistic. This work has shown me I’m owning more of my story each day by drawing strength from my feminine influences.”

She Was is available for purchase in-person at Cheeky Couture’s Boutique on Gasoline Alley, Housewarmings in downtown Red Deer, at the CASASC main office or by emailing [email protected]

Copies are $20 each with 50 per cent of the proceeds supporting CASASC. A $5 delivery fee will be charged to orders outside of Red Deer.

She Was has been selected by Lloydminster and Vermillion for Equity’s Monthly Book Club for May 2 at 2 p.m. Samuel will also be a guest on Coffee Chat with CASASC on May 6 at 10:30 a.m. on CASASC’s Instagram page (@CASASC3).

Samuel is hosting the She Was Author’s Launch on Friday, April 30 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The launch will feature a reading, input from other readers, a Q & A segment, door prizes and giveaways.

For more information about She Was visit facebook.com/surrenderliving or www.surrenderliving.com

Readers are encouraged to participate in the She Was challenge by selecting a poem from the book and recording themselves reading it on Facebook or Instagram. Dedicate the post to a great woman and tag them to do the same. Tag @surrenderliving and use the hashtag #shewas to be entered into the challenge. The winner will be selected at the end of SVAM.

Join the conversation for the month by using the hashtag #SVAM for Sexual Violence Awareness Month. Help us eliminate sexual violence in our community by creating a culture of respect.

CASASC is a voluntary, non-profit organization serving the Central Alberta region under the direction of a community-based Board of Directors. CASASC educates, supports and empowers individuals, families and communities regarding all aspects of sexual violence.

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