The Kennedy Center to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Premiere of 'VIVA CESAR' and More

By: Sep. 08, 2016
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The Kennedy Center announced today a series of programs honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, a national celebration that is observed annually from September 15 to October 15.

The events will kick off on Saturday, October 1, 2016 with a free Family Day, Con Las Puertas Abiertas (With Open Doors), and the unveiling of a Kennedy Center co-commissioned installation by Mexican graffiti artist, SANER.

The celebration's highlight will take place on Thursday, October 13, 2016 with ¡Viva César, Viva Kennedy!, a multi-disciplinary program that explores the connections in the fight for justice and civil rights by Mexican-American labor leader and social activist, César Chávez, and the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. The ticketed event features theater, music, historic visuals, and an enlightening conversation with those who knew and worked with Chávez.

Con Las Puertas Abiertas opens the Center's doors for families and children from Washington and beyond to learn more about Latin-American culture and revel in its contributions to our society. The Family Day activities will be held throughout the Terrace Level, with hands-on activities and crafts such as coloring, face painting, instrument building, interactive art, poetry, and games. Over the course of the day, the Terrace Gallery will house a myriad of local artists and groups who will offer performances and dance lessons to visitors of all ages. In a symbolic act, as part of the JFKC Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy, the Center invites Family Day attendees and all members of the D.C. community to participate in THE BIG HUG "Un Fuerte Abrazo" of the building. Batalá Washington will lead the crowd in a musical parade surrounding the outside of the Terrace level and joining hands in a gesture of friendship and unity, and a celebration of the diversity in our communities.

The upcoming Family Day will also launch a special art installation in the Hall of States, Con Los Brazos Abiertos-Embracing Mexico, by Mexican graffiti artist SANER. The exhibit celebrates approximately 20 important figures in Mexican culture through SANER's style, showcasing some of his signature visual elements which include vibrant colors and masks. SANER's artwork for this celebration is a Kennedy Center co-commission with support from the Mexican Cultural Institute of the Embassy of Mexico.

As the core event of this Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, ¡Viva César, Viva Kennedy! will convene celebrated artists and iconic special guests for a one-of-a-kind evening of performance and spirited conversation. The program is centered on the topics of civil rights and social justice, and how these intersect between the work and ideals of two pivotal figures in history of the United States: César Chávez and John F. Kennedy. To explore these connections, a group of guests will engage in personal and revealing conversations about their roles and interactions with these influencers- Chávez, the front-man of a workers' movement who became an inspiration for an entire community; Kennedy, the beloved leader of a powerful nation. Dan Guerrero, who worked with Chávez to produce events for the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), will serve as moderator of this distinguished gathering of guests who are coming together for the first time. Speakers include illustrator, painter, and sculptor Andy Zermeño; artist and muralist Barbara Carrasco; community organizer, social justice activist and co-founder of The Farm Workers Association with Chávez, Dolores Huerta; international health care luminary and daughter of the United States' first Hispanic ambassador Dr. Cynthia Telles; El Teatro Campesino founder and artistic director Luis Valdez; and Paul F. Chávez, son of César Chávez and President of the César Chávez Foundation.

The program also will feature performances by: actors/musicians from El Teatro Campesino, who will recreate scenes from Las Dos Caras del Patroncito (an adaptation by Valdez)- first performed in the fields to introduce farm workers to the fledging UFW; international superstar singer and Mexican cultural ambassador, Eugenia León; and the Grammy-winning Mexican-American band, La Marisoul y La Santa Cecilia, which creatively fuses diverse musical genres including cumbia, bossa nova, and boleros.

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