A Global Arts Celebration
Dancers, musicians, visual artists, actors - artists of every kind - willSkip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
use their creativity to dazzle and unite communities around the world on
New Year's Eve and throughout Y2K.
Two thousand years. Pretty good, eh?
How about 7,000? That's the cultural anniversary Egypt is marking Dec. 31 in grand style with an outdoor performance of an electronic opera (see "Culture vultures" below).
Musicians on the pyramids are but one example of the outpouring of creative energy from dancers, visual artists, actors, acrobats, and writers - artists from every discipline who are using the year 2000 as an opportunity to produce events or creations of cultural significance.
Two of the most common themes are exploring community and diversity. The locations of celebrations range from the small-town harbor of Eastport, Maine, to the international time line running through the Fiji Islands.
"This is a perfect time for community reflection and assessment," says Pat Shifferd, project director for Continental Harmony, the umbrella organization sponsoring 58 musicians who are creating Y2K musical compositions for communities in each of the 50 states.
"We're giving ourselves a thousand-year report card," says Ms. Shifferd with a laugh, pointing out that in today's rushed lifestyle, people find it hard to sit still.
It takes an event of this gravity to force the kind of self-assessment a society requires to stay creatively healthy, she adds. "An experience like this, where a community throws a party and plays music that is written expressly for them, gives them a chance to assess where they are and where they're going," Shifferd says.
Turning 1,000-year page of culture calendar
In Los Angeles, 2,000 gospel singers will perform at a mall in the predominantly African-American Crenshaw District, 2,000 folk dancers will perform in the mostly Latino Alameda, and 2,000 black mariachi drummers will hold forth in the San Pedro harbor.
"The arts can bring a deeper, more spiritual dimension to the millennium," says Al Nodal, general manager of L.A.'s cultural affairs department. "Along with being important in their own right, the arts are a fabulous tool to get people together."
L.A. is the world center for entertainment, Mr. Nodal adds. The coup de grce, a celebration of the technical and creative expertise for which the city is known around the world, will be a "way cool animation and light show" for the city's international landmark, the Hollywood sign.
The worldwide celebrations of dance, music, theater - all the arts, Nodal says, are a perfect vehicle to allow people to think more deeply about the turning of a 1,000-year page in humankind's history.
Communities around the globe agree. Some events will take place on New Year's Eve. Other efforts, such as the White House Millennium Council and the American Composers Forum's Continental Harmony, are supporting multiyear and multimillion dollar projects.
"People seem busy creating meaning," says dancer Liz Lerman, whose eponymous troupe will welcome the first rays of the new year's sunshine to hit the continental US in the harbor of Eastport. Led by Lerman's dance troupe, residents will come out to the harbor and explore the elevation of everyday life into a "dance of celebration."