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E N T E R TA I N M E N T november 2006

PowWOW Austin FILM Festival The Art of DANCE

WARM-UP to Cool Style Centerfold Wall CALENDAR



E N T E R TA I N M E N T 2 Journey to the Present 5 Abstract Art or Surrealism 6 Hollywood Glitz & Glamour 10 Wall Calendar Centerfold 12 Warm-up to Cool Style 16 Powwow Pageantry 18 The Art of Dance

Renee Judkins Publisher/Editor 512-825-8102 Alice Judkins PR Director/Assistant Editor 512-825-1512 Misty Shaw Photojournalist Ryan Propes Staff Photographer AWO contributor: Catherine Hosman For Centerfold Wall Calendar Listings Contact Alice @ 825-1512

For display advertising call:


photography by Ryan Propes

- ACL Festival

Austin Wide Open ©Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. The information in this publication is believed to be accurate, and Austin Wide Open will not be held liable for the performance of goods and services provided by advertisers and any other portion of this publication. Distributed monthly to areas in and around Austin and parts of the San Antonio area.


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The Collector’s

Collection story and photography by AWO Photojournalist Misty Shaw

They were all there –

the masters, Picasso, Matisse, Chagall – along with contemporaries such as Frederick E. Hart, Ray Donley and Maxine Price. They had gathered, in the form of many of their works, at the behest of Lisa Russell to help her celebrate "Journey to the Present," the grand opening of the Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery downtown. "It’s been a huge success already," Russell said of the Sixth Street location, which has been open since early August. "I’ve been looking to expand downtown for a long time, and I don’t know that there’s any other location downtown I’d have taken. I really wanted to be a part of this West-End art community." Russell, who established herself as an art dealer in her original Arboretum gallery four years ago, was recently able to expand to a second, more central location in what had previously been the F8 Fine Art Gallery. "It wasn’t until the owners of the F8 Gallery, Amy and Richard Griffin, decided they were ready to retire," said Russell. "They asked me if I’d take over the spot and even take care of some of their artists." Russell said she was more than happy to oblige. "I realized that even with all the clientele I have in the Arboretum, I was missing all of the people down here, so now I’m able to have two galleries with two almost totally different clientele," she said.


While the grand opening of the downtown location was held September 9, Russell said she had already become a part of the family of galleries that line the 1100 block of Sixth Street. "There’s a sense of camaraderie here – everyone refers their clients to the other galleries and we all get together and talk about how business is going," Russell said. Even as she embraces that sense of community, Russell said she strives to stock her collection with unique pieces that enrich the West-End art scene. "I have some pretty incredible masterworks up that I brought in especially for this show," said Russell. "I love to highlight our contemporary artists, but the fact that I have Picasso and Matisse – that’s adding something pretty special to the art community here that was, I think, mostly contemporary." It seems the Russell Collection was assembled with a wide range of art collectors in mind, from the weekend enthusiast to the serious connoisseur. "It’s actually working out quite well," Russell said of her mix of classic and contemporary pieces. "The reason I brought in the contemporary works was to broaden the clientele I could reach, in a price range anyone can afford." Along with a pleasing array of masterpieces featured in the grand opening show, the Russell Collection also offered a diverse sampling of contemporary pieces by artists known locally and beyond. >>>

"They’re not all Austin artists – I have one man from Santa Fe, one from Baton Rouge, a few from Wimberley," Russell said. "Ray Donley is probably the most well-known contemporary artist I carry." In addition, Russell is an authorized dealer of works by the late Frederick E. Hart, a contemporary sculptor whose creations adorn the Washington National Cathedral. A number of Hart’s striking clear acrylic resin or bronze pieces figured prominently in the grand opening show. "Their art is really good in regard to their technique, their subject matter, and their talent," Russell said of artists featured in her shows. "I don’t choose just any artist for my gallery." With a strong background in art, and with the support of her "art savvy" family and her husband, Chris, Russell has been able to succeed in the art world and fulfill some of her personal goals. "I’ve always wanted to be a successful business woman," Russell said. "When I opened my first gallery, the reaction I got was ‘come talk to me in two years, we’ll see if you’re still around.’ Here I am, fourand-a-half years later, and I’m doing well enough to have both locations. The reaction I’m getting from my clients, or even from people as they walk in, is that they’re happy I’ve moved in downtown." The Russell Collection has two Austin locations. The Arboretum gallery, 10000 Research Blvd., Suite 130, is open Mon. – Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 12-5 p.m. Sun. The downtown gallery, 1137 W. Sixth St., is open Tue – Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information and upcoming shows, visit www.russell or contact Lisa Russell or Nory Boulton at (512)342-0747.


Chris & Lisa Russell

Local Artist Maxine Price with one of her works, “Wild Thang, I Think I Love You.”

Abstract or



Mickie Bellah Art There are abstract paintings, then there are Surrealistic Abstract paintings. Austin artist Mickie Bellah defines her paintings as the latter. Surrealism, according to Webster, is a 20th century literary and artistic movement that attempts to express the workings of the subconscious by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter. Webster’s definition of abstract, in art, concerned with designs or shapes that do not represent any recognizable person or thing. Bellah’s paintings, unquestionably, are "Surrealistic Abstracts." Using pure color, Bellah applies the thinned paint to the canvas and moves it as she is ‘directed.’ She explained, "The music of the earth mother sings to us through color. When you see form, you see color. And


when you see color, you see music and tones in their solid form. Each person who looks at one of my paintings will see different images, she continued, "which has special meaning to them. Turn the canvas in any direction and new images appear, deepening their experience." Each painting is done with pure color to gain attention, then the viewer begins to see forms and continuing to explore the canvas, images begin to appear, images Bellah says she does not develop these images. "They just appear of their own accord," she said. Samples of Bellah’s work can be seen at www.mic or at her studio by appointment.

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Holly wood Glitz & Glamour Shines in Austin



story by Misty Shaw photos courtesy of Austin Film Festival

Oscar-winning producer/director/actor Sydney Pollack (pictured) was this year’s recipient of the AFF EXTRAORDINARY CONTRIBUTION TO FILMMAKING AWARD

vid film and television fans have probably heard of Erin Brokovich or The Bernie Mac Show. But unless they faithfully peruse the credits, most people may not be as familiar with the screenwriters who created those works -Susannah Grant and Larry Wilmore. With all the Hollywood glitz and glamour that shines in the finished product, it’s easy to forget the behind-the-scenes blood, sweat and tears that are poured into the making of a major motion picture or television show. That’s what brings hundreds of big-name film and television producers, directors, screenwriters, and actors to downtown Austin every October for the annual Austin Film Festival and Conference, now in its 13th year. It’s an opportunity for those overworked and possibly under-appreciated screenwriters to stand in the spotlight and be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the industry. The festival has become an integral part of Austin’s entertainment culture, which has so much more to offer Austinites and visitors than just live music. "The film scene here grows every year and gets better and bigger," said Maya Perez, AFF conference director. "The Austin Film Festival has been helping and supporting filmmakers and writers for 13 years now, creating an environment that allows Austin filmmakers to connect with the Hollywood industry." During the annual four-day event, more than 100 films make their big-screen debut, including works by local filmmakers. "AFF provides a forum for Austin filmmakers to screen their work through the Austin Showcase section during the festival," such as this year’s premiere of Chalk by local filmmaker Mike Akel, Perez said. "AFF is non-profit, so proceeds from ticket sales all go back into allowing us to screen films around town and help independent filmmakers."

The 44th Annual Production of

The Nutcracker 7.30pm, Dec 9, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23 2pm, Dec 10, 16, 17, 23

Bass Concert Hall | Musical Accompaniment by Sugar Plum Fairies. Waltzing Snowflakes. The Rat King. . . For years, these whimsical characters have conjured holiday magic for audiences all over the world. The music, movement and memories will bring a smile to all ages. Choreography by Stephen Mills


Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

For Show Tickets: Call 1.866.I.GETTIX or log on to


5 0




pictured left - Celebs from past AFF

Harold Ramis & Ernie Hudson

Schwartzman & Danes

Jeff Daniels

In addition to the film screenings and awards, the conference brings local and national filmmakers together for discussion panels, workshops and other activities that allow participants to share trade secrets and hone their craft. But Perez said the festival offers something for everyone, from the aspiring screenwriter to the weekend movie-goer. "The AFF targets film lovers and industry professionals alike," said Perez. "We’ve truly got something for everyone, from intensive workshop panels and roundtables on the craft and business of screenwriting and filmmaking to movie premieres with the cast in attendance." At this year’s event, held October 19 – 26, screenwriters such as John August (Corpse Bride, Go, Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, and other films), Steve Faber and Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers), Dan French (Dennis Miller, The Late, Late Show, etc.) and Bill Wittliff (Legends of the Fall, Lonesome Dove, the Black Stallion, and more) were in attendance to lend their expertise to the conference panels. Oscar-winning producer/director/actor Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Major League, Searching for Bobby Fisher, Sense and Sensibility, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and other films) was this year’s recipient of the AFF Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award, and renowned screenwriter Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boyscout, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, and other films) received the 2006 Distinguished Screenwriter Award. Other famous personalities who have attended the AFF in previous years have sung the praises of the conference and of Austin. Richard La Gravenese, winner of the AFF 2002 Distinguished Screenwriter Award and known for his work on The Fisher King, The Bridges of Madison County, and The Horse Whisperer, said "the Austin Film Festival is a downright, forthright celebration of the creative spirit…Genuine and demonstrative in its efforts to support screen and television writing, [the festival] is kind of a blessing." "Austin’s so cool it makes Houston look like Dallas," Harold Ramis (Animal House, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, etc.) was quoted as saying. "I don’t even know what that means but I had an amazingly good time at the Austin Film Festival." With all the exciting premieres, famous faces and other entertainment it has to offer, the Austin Film Festival and Conference has become an Austin institution that will keep filmmakers and fans coming back year, after year, after year. For more information about the Austin Film Festival, visit or call 1-800-310-3378.

AUSTIN LYRIC OPERA celebrates its 20th Anniversary Season with the 2006/2007 season. Puccini’s tragic masterpiece Madame Butterfly opens the season Nov 17-20, 2006; the American premiere of Philip Glass’




Barbarians will be presented January 19, 21, 27, 29, 2007; and Rossini’s delightful comic romp, The Barber of Seville closes the season April 14, 17, 20, 22, 2007. The productions of Madame Butterfly and Waiting for the Barbarians will be presented at Bass Concert Hall located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. The Barber of Seville will be presented at Riverbend Centre. Each production will be sung in its original language with English Supertitle translations. For additional information on Austin Lyric Opera’s exciting 20th Anniversary Season go to:

JOSHUA SLACK - developed at Greenwood Photography now making his national debut. Catch Joshua in the 2007 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog and the new Chevrolet commercial.

Sixth Street is the vein that runs through the heart of Austin’s entertainment scene, breathing life into this historical district.

photography by Ryan Propes









6pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305


Incantation • Hell-Born • Year of Desolation 401 Sabine • 275-6575


6pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305


LAST DAY for Rocky Horror Picture Show Live


Fireball Ministry • Artemis Pyledriver • Vains of Jenna 401 Sabine • 275-6575


6pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305


MOMO’S Will Evans






618 W. Sixth • 479-8848

MOMO’S Will Evans

6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305




618 W. Sixth • 479-8848

MOMO’S The Hudsons THE SAXON PUB Happy Hour with Pauline Reese @ 6pm 1320 S Lamar • 448-2552

30 Along the San Marcos River 393-5900


618 W. Sixth • 479-8848

MOMO’S The Hudsons

happy thanksgiving!


618 W. Sixth • 479-8848

MOMO’S Gordy Quist • The Hudsons

208 Nueces & 3rd

AUSTIN MUSIC HALL The Pretenders @ 8pm

Free the West Memphis Three Benefit 401 Sabine • 275-6575


Rocky Horror Picture Show Live




Round Rock Ave. • 671-7925


LA ZONA ROSA Imogen Heap w/ Magnet 612 W 4th & Rio Grande

Downtown -



LA ZONA ROSA Johnny Walker @ 9pm 612 W 4th & Rio Grande

Black Label Society w/ Blackstone Cherry • 208 Nueces & 3rd St


Mixfest 2006 Los Lonely Boys, Smashmouth, Bo Bice 13101 Hwy 71 & 620



Round Rock Ave. • 671-7925


618 W. Sixth • 479-8848

MOMO’S The Heathens

801 Red River • 480-8341

STUBBS BBQ Blue October 24th & 25th

Handsome Joel Benefit 401 Sabine • 275-6575


Madame Butterfly • Nov 17-20 901 Barton Springs • 472-5927


515 E. Sixth Street • 789-3486

FLAMINGO CANTINA The Slackers Stingers

Fri & Sat - 8pm Sunday 2pm Tapestry Dance Company Helms Fine Arts Center 512-474-tixs •




Pier Branch (Rock • Blues • Country) Round Rock Ave. • 671-7925

GUMBO’S LOUISIANA STYLE CAFE GUMBO’S LOUISIANA STYLE CAFE Whitestone (Oldies • Blues • Country) Round Rock Ave. • 671-7925

515 E. Sixth Street • 789-3486

FLAMINGO CANTINA Grimy Styles - Keep the Fuel

Barenaked Ladies with Mike Doughty’s Band @ 7;30pm 13101 Hwy 71 & 620

515 E. Sixth Street • 789-3486




A New Revolution • Brendale • Park • Goodbye Beautiful • One Way Letter 401 Sabine • 275-6575

Exile To Naples • D.I.D.L.Y. • Neverset • Diesel • 8 Systems 401 Sabine • 275-6575




the world - Fiesta Gardens

AUSTIN CELTIC FESTIVAL Nov 4 & 5 - Music from around

Forever Mourne • The Maelstrom • Carbide • Bangladesh • The Destro • Vatic Ash 401 Sabine • 275-6575


Burger Center 3200 Jones Rd.

AUSTIN MUSIC HALL Maceo Parker @ 9pm 208 Nueces & 3rd St.


AUSTIN POWWOW American Indian Heritage Festival - 10am-10pm

Paramount Theatre Ticket info 866-443-8849




515 E. Sixth Street • 789-3486

FLAMINGO CANTINA Misprint ‘Zine Party

A celebration of the Cultural Art cross-pollination between the US & Japan - Arthouse Center - 700 Congress - 7pm



515 E. Sixth Street • 789-3486

FLAMINGO CANTINA Congolese Artist: Yondo Sister & Soukous Stars

Design Center of Austin • Bldg C 3601 South Congress • 5 -7pm 288-0574



6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305



CEDAR STREET COURTYARD The Spazmatics • Trent & Dave @ 6pm 208 W 4th • 495-9669




Mastery 401 Sabine • 275-6575


6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305


612 W. 4th & Rio Grande • 9pm



Palmer Events Center 900 Barton Springs Rd. 467-8982 •


6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305

6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305


Marriage Italian Style! Bridal Show 504 East 5th St. (5-8pm)


Joan Jett & the Blackhearts w/Eagles of Death Metal - 6pm 801 Red River - 480-8341


6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305


The Damnuells • The Fray 801 Red River - 480-8341


6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305

LA ZONA ROSA Kasabian • Men, Women & Children

618 W. Sixth • 479-8848



7 FRANK ERWIN CENTER Juan Gabriel @ 8pm 1701 Red River 471-7744

Rocky Horror Picture Show Live





Primus @ 8:30pm 208 Nueces & 3rd St.


The Chelsea Smiles • Blackpool Lights • Social Distortion 801 Red River - 480-8341


6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305







6:30pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305


6pm Lakeway - Lake Travis Lakeway Commons - 263-3305






I respond to the context of time and place... -

Architect Travis Young of Studio Momentum

WARMUP to COOL Style Architect Travis Young of Studio Momentum is known for his sleek, modern home designs that coexist in neighborhoods where single story bungalows dominate. His latest design is the Alegria Duplex at 1903 Alegria. Built on a single lot, the duplex provides two separate and private homes each 1,400 square feet. Features include securable carports that double as extensions of the living room and a luminescent stair tower, sheathed in Polygal, that provides natural daylight into the homes and also acts as a privacy separation. Each unit has a south-facing backyard and the second floor living areas are open and flexible. "Our goal was to create spaces that would allow the owner to inhabit them as they see fit," said Young, explaining that the second floor of the homes have moveable walls that owners can manipulate to suit their living needs. "And we really wanted daylight filled, flowing spaces." Young’s designs go beyond their crystallike exteriors. With each home he designs he incorporates green methods of building that culminate in a home that reflects today’s environment. His Alegria Duplex earned him three stars from the Austin Energy’s Green Building Program. "The duplex has an energy efficient HVAC system that carries a high rating on cooling versus wattage use," he said. "The homes are created with energy efficient lighting using low-wattage fluorescent bulbs. There is less glass on the eastern and western sides of the homes where you would receive more solar heat gain." Green design is good design, Young said, and consideration is also given to a home’s location and climate. "In construction we consider where the home will be built and materials that are easily maintained," he said. "It’s also being energy efficient, creating high performance structures, reducing sprawl and dependence on the automobile. These are all values that were instilled in me through my architectural education and it just so happens that these are also ‘green’ values." >>>

Green Design is Good Design story by Catherine Hosman photos by Thomas McConnell


Young draws inspiration from early 20th century modern architects Louis Kahn, Alvar Aalto, John Lautner and contemporary architect Samuel Mockbee. Their designs evoke the sleek, open living style of what Young believes a 21st century home might look like. "I respond to the context of time and place," he said. "After all, we are in the year 2006 and there are new materials and new approaches to the way people want to live." Young’s designs dot the Austin neighborhood landscape. His goal is to create a more dense urban development to reduce sprawl, using existing infrastructure. He sees a co-existence between his new modern designs and the post World War II homes that are synonymous with Austin. "Those homes were built quickly and efficiently to serve the population of the era," he said. "In the bungalows, living spaces are created by walls. Our designs are more open, reflecting modern living expectations. Creating work that duplicates the past is dishonest and nostalgic to me. Creating work that references the scale and proportions of the past, while resolving the modern condition is more appropriate." Young has several new projects pending, including a home currently under construction that will be a five-star rated home from the Austin Energy’s Green Building Program. "I’m really excited about that," he said. "I believe that a mix of uses, and creative modern designs are appropriate for today’s Austin; and that these developments do not have to replicate the past to be good neighbors."

"Our goal was to create spaces that would allow the owner to inhabit them as they see fit," said Young, explaining that the second floor of the homes have moveable walls that owners can manipulate to suit their living needs. "And we really wanted daylight filled, flowing spaces."

RELEASE & RENEW速 Weekend Intensive November 10-12

... a Soul Journey Awaken the Truth Within!

The Center For Well Being


KATE BARES-JOHNSON Founding Director/Consultant

Evolution of Pageantry story by Catherine Hosman / photos courtesy of Lee Walters



n Saturday, Nov. 4, the city of Sunset Valley hosts the 15th annual Austin Powwow and American Indian Festival at the Toney Burger Center, 3200 Jones Road. Sponsored in part by the Austin Independent School District Native American Parents Association, private donations and the cities of Austin and Sunset Valley, this one-day event attracts more than 30,000 spectators and 400 native dancers from all over the United States and Canada. "We are the true premiere event (created) of partnerships and friendships," said co-chair Lee Walters, who has a dual heritage of Blackfeet and Japanese. Through the tireless efforts of Walters and powwow co-chair Pascal Regimbeau, an executive committee, several departmental cochairs covering everything from lighting to trash, and a cast of hundreds of volunteers, visitors are the recipients of this free cultural event which begins with the children’s program at 10 a.m., followed by the afternoon and evening festivities. "It takes up a lot of time, it’s all volunteer," said Walters, head of environmental health and safety at the University of Texas department of housing and food service. "It takes time away from family, but in the long run, the passion remains." Those who come will be in sensory overload as they witness the pageantry of the Grand Entry when dancers in colorful tribal regalia are led into the arena by a Native American color guard. "People have to be here for the Grand Entry to see all the dancers coming out," said Regimbeau, a French native and co-owner of Chez Nous restaurant. "It takes about 20 minutes." During the Grand Entry and throughout the day singers chant as the sacred drum reverberates through the arena, accompanied by the soft jingle of a woman’s jingle dress, the bells that frame a male dancer’s footwear and the melodic tone of a bone whistle. "The dancers come out with the American and Native American Flags and our emcee, Tim Tall Chief, comments on the styles of the dancers," he said. Outside the arena, many visual, audio and taste temptations lure guests out to the parking lot. As they get closer to the sounds of Native America, they are distracted by the numerous rows of booths with Native American artisans selling their creations at the arts and crafts market. The aroma of authentic American Indian cuisine wafts through the air diverting the visitors from the gymnasium towards the food court that sells Indian fry bread and tacos, hominy and beef stew, wild rice soup, buffalo chili and other Native foods that not only please the palate but the mind, soul and spirit as well. Somewhere between the arts and crafts market and food court is the performing artists’ tent where the audience stands 10 or deeper to listen to the stories and songs of a culture past trying to stay alive in the present. "People don’t realize, when they look at themselves as Americans, they don’t know that America is today because of what Native Americans did for the land and what the beauty of the land has to do with them," said Regimbeau. Regimbeau and Walters have been on the committee since the early 1990s. Regimbeau began as the hospitality chair who coordinated the afternoon and evening feast for the dancers. His love affair with Native America began in the late 1970s when he came to the United States to tour the American Southwest. "One of the reasons I came to the United States was to travel the land and visit Native American ceremonials and powwows," Regimbeau said. "I had no idea what would happen to me.

"I became very fond of the Hopi culture and found it to be the sharpest and most vivid Native American theologies about living with your land. I was lucky enough to watch Zuni and Hopi ceremonials. The first time I attended a ceremonial, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and walked up First Mesa on the Hopi Reservation to watch a plaza dance. Kachina dancers came up out of the Kivas with the most beautiful sunrise for a backdrop. I fell in love with the land as well as the people because the people who inhabited the land did so in such a harmonious way." Walters came onboard a couple of years later as one of the parents in the AISD Native American Parents Committee. "I first started as a regular member and volunteered for security," said Walters. "Eventually I was asked to be co-chair of the committee with Vince Bland, our founding co-chair who passed away five years ago. After Vince’s passing, I joined with Pascal." Today, Regimbeau and Walters and their roster of long-time professional committee chairs and volunteers are bringing the powwow into the 21st Century. What began as a small event in 1991 at McCallum High School with 2,000 people is now being handled like a business because of its growth. "Without Pascal’s business and Indian sense we would not be able to put on a powwow of this caliber," said Walters. "Also, we bring in volunteers that are good in the area they are working." "I’m logistic, but Lee is representative," adds Regimbeau "He is a good diplomat which makes us complimentary." Through their efforts under the umbrella of Great Promise, a nonprofit organization, and the AISD Native American Parents Committee, and all of the volunteers, the powwow remains a free gift to Central Texas.

< Lee Walters and Pascal Regimbeau >

For more information visit or call 512-371-0628. No drugs, alcohol or pets allowed.


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• One, Two & Three Bedroom Su i t e s w i t h H u g e Balconies

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The Art of

For many Austinites, dancing is a leisurely, Saturday night stress-reliever. For Acia Gray, dancing is a way of life, and she lives it knowing "rhythm is a terrible thing to waste." Since 1989, Gray has been high-stepping her way across the Austin performing arts dance floor as the co-founder and executive director of the Tapestry Dance Company, and her infectious enthusiasm has led her fellow performers and students to follow suit.


"Tapestry was born in the middle of the Colorado Dance Festival," Gray said. "The company was founded by myself and Dierdre Strand – we were both professional dancers in Austin On Tap, the busiest touring tap company in the country. We had a brainchild while we were at the festival – we wanted to see something different."

With a desire for diversity in mind, Gray, Strand, and another dancer, Fred Moritiel, began rehearsing and teaching tap-dancing classes in a one-room studio in north Austin. As the phenomenon of Tapestry began to take hold, the founders decided to start a school dedicated to "sharing the power of dance through education and performance." "The name itself says it all – not only does it have the word ‘tap’ in it, but we are an actual tapestry," Gray said. "It’s about that amalgamation of not only dance styles but music and cultures as well. The magic of Tapestry is really the bane of our existence – we’re so diverse we never know what we’re doing to do next!" After moving into the present studio off of Fifth Street ten years ago, Gray said Tapestry has quadrupled in size to become Austin’s second largest city-funded, non-profit dance company, with seven professional dancers and a wide array of youth and adult classes ranging from tap, ballet and ballroom dancing to African, hip-hop and even Folklorico. "We strive to use dance as a tool, not only of creativity but of health and self-expression – it’s a wonderful thing," Gray said. "And there’s no way to get a better body than through dancing – you’re working out and you don’t even feel like you’re working out. When you walk in the door, you can feel that it’s a healthy, creative environment."

story by Misty Shaw photos courtesy of Tapestry Dance

Despite its enormous success over the years, Gray said Tapestry is facing its share of hardships. "The frustration we’ve had lately is that we’re going to have to move again, because in January they’re tearing this building down – we’ve been looking for a new home," Gray said. "We are very blessed that we have been funded by the City of Austin since 1990, as well as by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. But we’re trying to find stability in the community. It’s been pins and needles." Tapestry board member Laura Lund said she looks forward to the continued community support, from which the company has benefited greatly over the years.

"Austin is a town that supports the arts, and with this move, we’ll be looking for angels willing to make donations," she said. "We’d love to have someone donate a better space [for the company]." Tapestry makes an effort to give back to the community with outreach programs, including a large-scale dance program within the Austin Independent School District. "We want to share the power of dance and teach kids that it’s a language they can use to express themselves," Gray said. "We also try to make the kids who go through our academy into well-rounded dancers." Lund said Gray’s talent and passion for the art of dance is the backbone of the Tapestry sensation.


"Acia is the star – she has such a presence on the stage, a sparkle, a mastery of the rhythm tap style," Lund said. "She’s what drives Tapestry, and it’s not just about tap – it’s a tapestry of all different styles, a full range of dance."

Gray, who has a background in acting (as well as tap) and came to Austin for what was supposed to be a "two-week vacation" from New York City, said that was the goal of Tapestry, to "make the specialty being diverse." "It mirrors the eclectic nuttiness of Austin in some funky way," she said with a laugh. "If we were doing this in Dallas or Houston, it just wouldn’t be the same. It takes a certain kind of open-minded community to support this weirdness, and that’s what we have in Austin." For the 2006-2007 performing season, which opens this fall and is booked nationally, Tapestry Dance has an all-tap lineup ready to wow audiences. "Our first performance, in November, is going to be a celebration of American tap," Gray said. "We’re going to restage some really famous dances" from classic performances by the likes of Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, "plus our original stuff. We’re also going to have a live jazz trio for some improv, and if you’ve never seen live jazz improv, you’re in for something amazing – it’s really neat." As the Tapestry Dance troupe gears up for the new season, Gray can’t help but see a bright future for the company. "It would be great to own our own building, and I’d love to have 10 full-time dancers, more touring and more national recognition," Gray said. "One of my dreams is to be so well supported that every show we do at the Paramount Theatre is free."

Acia Gray

As she works toward those lofty goals, Gray invited the community to sit in on a Tapestry rehearsal or sign up for a class to "hone your skills." "If you can’t afford a class, we’ll work with you so you can still participate – we don’t turn anyone away," said Gray. "We love for people to come and share in what we’re doing." The 2006-2007 Tapestry Dance Company schedule: The Souls of Our Feet (premiere) - Helm Fine Arts Center November 17-19 / Friday & Saturday 8:00pm and Saturday & Sunday at 2:00pm • Tapestry Dance Company presents a celebration of American tap dance from Hollywood classics to the best of vaudeville and the concert stage - featuring The Eddy Hobizal Jazz Trio and international tap dancer Dianne Walker $30 / matinee discounts for students 512474-TIXS / Footprints (premiere) - UT's McCullough Theatre Rhythm Tap & World Music! March 9-11 / Friday & Saturday 8:00pm and Saturday & Sunday at 2:00pm • Tapestry Dance Company with special guests including Anu Naimpally and Olivia Chacon $25 & $35 / matinee discounts for students 512.477.6060 / BASS Concert Hall Box office The Seventh Annual Soul to Sole Festival - Helm Fine Arts Center & SSS Campus May 28-June 3 • The best of rhythm tap dance by international tap dance and percussive artists including Dianne Walker, Keith Terry, Sarah Petronio, Acia Gray, Ayodele Casel, Katherine Kramer, Jason Janas, Nicole Hockenberry, Barbara Phillips and more!

For more information about the Tapestry Dance Company, visit To purchase tickets and register for classes, call (512)474-9846.

TAPESTRY ON THE MOVE! Tapestry Dance Company will be relocating to a new South Austin facility right behind Central Market at 2302 Western Trails. The company is currently searching for individuals interested in getting involved! Volunteer and work/study opportunities as well as community development and outreach. The organization is also looking for community leaders to join in this exciting planning stage! For more information contact: Judy Witkin @ 512-474-9846 or


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