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'pARTy' Hearty

On Saturday, a daylong festival celebrates the arts and 20 years of educational outreach.

May 18, 2000|VALERIE J. NELSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An arts festival with a name that seems like a typographical error--"pARTy"--will punctuate Saturday's daylong celebration at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County with a theatrical procession. Hundreds of grade-school children will spell out the reason for the festivities.

The 12:30 p.m. ceremony and parade--employing masks, puppets and a fair amount of improvisation and painted cardboard--will rely on a sowing-the-seeds metaphor to tell the story of the 20 years of arts education provided to Southern California schools by the center's education division.

An orchestra with 16 musicians from around the world will play, and a year-by-year roll call will be conducted to honor the about 125 artists who've been involved in the program since on-site school visits began in 1981.

"This anniversary is celebrating the breadth of the work we do," says Barbara Leonard, artistic director of the education division that brings arts programs to nearly 1.3 million children and teachers a year. "The festival not only celebrates the arts, but the way this is crafted it's about the creative process."

Bracketing the parade will be a dozen morning and afternoon workshops to help all ages discover their inner artist.

"You know how many people say, 'I can't carry a tune or draw a straight line'?" asks Joan Boyett, the center's vice president of education, who launched the program in 1979. "Workshops like these are to help them get over that."

At morning workshops, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., participants can make masks or a horn, learn flamenco dancing, craft an ocean panorama accordion book, paint frames, make puppets, do Navajo sand painting or Mexican paper-cutting, and paint and plant a pot. They'll also create percussive instruments from everyday objects, create bamboo panpipes and (from 10 to 11 a.m. only) learn taiko drumming. Street painting, using chalk, will take place all day.

Afternoon workshops, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., include singing, stick-puppet making, folk and tap dancing, 3-D paper scapes, stamp making, tribal mask making and origami.

"We hope people will get into the flow of the day," says Leonard. "The dance workshops are very ambitious. I really believe that in a festival setting, we should try to show our riches."

Three outdoor stages will be set up to showcase dance, music and theater performances in 15-minute increments. Because the spoken word often gets lost in the noise of a festival crowd, a storytelling tent will be set up on the side of the Mark Taper Forum. Folk tales from many cultures and time periods will be presented from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The four resident companies of the Performing Arts Center also are participating. The L.A. Master Chorale and L.A. Opera will present 15-minute programs. A school-touring group from the Mark Taper Forum will perform a slice of "Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Pinata Woman and Other Superhero Girls Like Me," which tells the story of five young Latinas in East Los Angeles.

Inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the L.A. Philharmonic will present a Symphony for Youth concert from 11 a.m. to noon, and 800 free tickets will be distributed to festival goers.

Not all of the performers will be professionals. Students who have been taught by an artist associated with the education division will be featured in five- to 20-minute performances on one of the stages.

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Near the end of the day, the first composition commissioned by the education division will receive its world premiere. An orchestra of 22 of the musicians who travel to the schools to teach the arts will present John Zeretzke's four-movement "Inceptum," Latin for "a beginning."

"I always feel our artists work in isolation," Leonard says. "They pack their car and drive to Palmdale or Oxnard or wherever it may be. They have this really rich experience in a school, but this is a chance for us to have a creative collaboration among our musical artists."

As for that funny name with the three capital letters in the middle, festival organizers said they thought they'd celebrate by giving a "pARTy" where the art clearly stands out.

BE THERE

Arts festival "pARTy" at the Performing Arts Center Plaza, on Hope Street between Temple and 1st streets, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. Parking free. (213) 250-2787.

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