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50th Annual BLUE RIBBON CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL Announced

The Blue Ribbon Children's Festival offers students the opportunity to experience a world-class performance by a professional dance company, Dorrance Dance.

50th Annual BLUE RIBBON CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL Announced

The Blue Ribbon Children's Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021 with a 30-minute online program designed to share the love of the arts through dance with young people of all ages. Sponsored by The Blue Ribbon, a support organization of The Music Center, the free festival began in 1970 and is an important part of The Music Center's commitment to engage young people in the arts. This year's Blue Ribbon Children's Festival will premiere on The Music Center Offstage virtual platform on March 2, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. PT, and will expand its traditional invitation to fifth graders to include students in grades 3-12 throughout Los Angeles County and their families to reflect the current distance learning environment; the presentation will be available to watch on demand for a limited time through June 30, 2021. The Blue Ribbon Children's Festival offers students the opportunity to experience a world-class performance by a professional dance company, Dorrance Dance, along with the chance to dance along at home, complemented by a targeted curriculum guide for participating students.

An award-winning tap dance company based in New York City, Dorrance Dance is known for honoring the tradition of tap dance and simultaneously expanding its possibilities. For this virtual program, the company will guide students through an experience for The Music Center, sharing excerpts from five of Dorrance Dance's most dynamic pieces. The repertory includes a powerhouse duet created by Josette Wiggan-Freund and Joseph Wiggan, both of whom are Los Angeles-based artistic associates with Dorrance Dance and former grand prize finalists in The Music Center's Spotlight Program. Prior to the March 2, 2021 premiere date, viewers can log onto musiccenter.org for instructional videos on the basics of tap dancing as well as the curriculum guide that illuminates the repertory, vocabulary and history of tap dance and provides multiple lessons to implement in the classroom. The program includes aural and visual descriptions and the specific steps of an easy-to-learn dance routine created by Music Center teaching artist Tara Cook Davis so participants can dance together at the program's end. Dorrance Dance's program highlights what is most thrilling, brilliant and beautiful about tap dancing-movement as music. The virtual program is directed by Nicole Alexander, in collaboration with Michelle Dorrance as dance director.

"For more than fifty years, the women of The Blue Ribbon have set the bar in Los Angeles for their ongoing commitment to arts education, volunteerism and financial support for The Music Center and its resident companies. The Blue Ribbon Children's Festival is emblematic of our work and has always been a special day of the year for both young people in Los Angeles and our members alike," said Terri Kohl, president, The Blue Ribbon. "We believe the performing arts are a true gift to humanity, and we work very hard to ensure everyone, especially children, can experience the joys and thrills that music, dance and theatre can offer online and in-person-they just need that opportunity. We're very excited to continue this long-standing tradition in a new, accessible format that will reach an even larger audience of students and fans in Los Angeles, until we can dance together in person once again."

"Because of the great work and enthusiasm of The Blue Ribbon, hundreds of thousands of students have come to The Music Center to experience a professional dance performance and the opportunity to dance themselves at this very special place for more than 50 years. The Blue Ribbon's commitment continues the legacy of our founder Dorothy Buffum Chandler who advocated that the performing arts should be an active part of Los Angeles," said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. "We're grateful for the tireless efforts of these great partners, not only for The Blue Ribbon Children's Festival, but for all the work they do and support they offer, which most definitely benefits every visitor who comes to The Music Center campus."

The Blue Ribbon Children's Festival was created in 1970 by Blue Ribbon President Helen Wolford and The Music Center founder Dorothy Buffum Chandler as part of The Music Center's commitment to engage young people in the arts. That first year, children visited The Music Center's Mark Taper Forum for performances of Paul Sills' Story Theatre. By 1973, The Blue Ribbon tailored the annual arts event for fifth grade students within Los Angeles County; the event continues to be underwritten by The Blue Ribbon. Over the years, students attending the Festival have seen performances by the LA Phil, LA Opera, American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, Diavolo Dance Theater and Ailey II, among others. Blue Ribbon member Maxine Dunitz made a $1 million gift to ensure that every student who attends the Festival will receive A Journey Through The Music Center, a book that provides an introduction to the performing arts and The Music Center; the book is continually updated and reprinted each year. In 2015, students participating in The Blue Ribbon Children's Festival set a record for the world's largest ribbon dance as acknowledged by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS.™ From its founding through 2019, the arts education program has hosted more than 890,000 students from all over Los Angeles County at The Music Center, which for many children was the first-time ever attending a live performance. The 2020 celebration was also reimagined as a virtual program to continue this essential experience for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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